Sheffield Wednesday travel to Premier League giants Chelsea for their mouthwatering FA Cup fourth round clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Star spoke to David Chidgey at the Chelsea Football FanCast to get the lowdown on the Owls' next opponents.
What Chelsea line-up can Sheffield Wednesday expect to face?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Maurizio Sarri rest a number of players, much as he did against Nottingham Forest, especially considering the tough Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday. Looking at that side, he may well play Ethan Ampadu instead of Jorginho now that Cesc Fabregas as left and there might be a question mark about Andreas Christensen given his toilet break last weekend!
Hopefully Callum Hudson-Odoi will get another game and new signing Gonzalo Higuain can get off the mark in his debut, if selected. Not sure if Rueben Loftus-Cheek has recovered from injury yet so one of Eden Hazard, Willian or Pedro will make up the front three.
The heavy hitters will be on the bench in case of emergency such as Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante. But having said that Sarri is just as likely to play a strong side. Much will depend on the result of the match against Spurs.
What have been Chelsea's weaknesses this season?
CAN’T PUT THE BALL IN THE BACK OF THE NET!!!! Clearly the biggest weakness for Chelsea has been the poor performances by the strikers, Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud, and their inability to score goals. But that’s not been the only problem of late. Jorginho is supposed to set the tempo and dictate Chelsea’s play, but when the opposition man mark him he seems unable to cope rendering him unable to get the ball forward or even retain possession.
Chelsea are still vulnerable at the back and are susceptible to pace and Marcos Alonso often leaves big spaces when he makes forward runs, making us vulnerable to counter-attacks. They haven’t managed to adapt to Sarri’s desired quick passing movements forward which means they often get bogged down outside the penalty box and there is no real width or good crosses coming in.
What do Chelsea expect from Wednesday?
Many Chelsea supporters of a certain age remember the rivalry with Wednesday from the 1980’s so it’s disappointing to see them in the wrong half of the Championship. As a big club it would be good to see them return to the Premier League. Luton gave Wednesday a good game in the last round and on paper this should be a Chelsea win no matter what side they put out.
However, football is played on grass not paper and it’s the Cup so anything can happen. Wednesday will be well up for it I would imagine and will be passionately roared on by 6,000 supporters, a top effort considering the massively inconvenient kick off time (thanks BBC!).
I suspect that Steve Agnew will set up to play on the counter-attack and hope to keep Chelsea out for as long as possible, let the crowd get fidgety and the players frustrated. It might be a good idea to put a man on Jorginho (if he plays) and swamp the midfield and make Chelsea play through them or go wide which will stifle them.
I would also be unsurprised if they try and intimidate Chelsea physically with a few judicious late tackles and some general rough housing on the basis that they might not like it up ‘em!
Mind you, if Ampadu plays he’s more than capable of giving it back, he’s the only one mind. If Chelsea lose to Spurs on Thursday then they will be vulnerable which may also play in to Wednesday’s hands.
One up and coming Chelsea player to keep an eye on for the future
As tempting as it is to say Hudson-Odoi, there’s a very good chance that he might not even be a Chelsea player in the future, with the rumours of his transfer to Bayern Munich, so it therefore has to be Ethan Ampadu. He is only 18 years old but has a maturity way beyond his years.
He doesn’t look all that physically (and let’s face it he’s not fully developed yet) but he has absolutely no fear and launches in to crunching tackles as if it were the 1970’s. But, he can play too. He has a great range of passing and can play in central defence or in central midfield.
There are many Chelsea supporters already calling for him to be given the midfield role held by Jorginho at the moment. I love the way that when he plays he spends half his time shouting at and directing all of the senior Chelsea players on the pitch like he’s been playing for 10 years. The last Chelsea player of a similar age that I saw do that and get away with it was John Terry. I have a feeling and sincerely hope that Ampadu is a chip off that old block.
Never easy predicting a cup tie score, but if Chelsea turn up and don’t get intimidated physically or bogged down passing sideways then they should be good enough to beat Wednesday comfortably so I’ll say 3-1, but I remember what happened against Bradford City a few years back so anything can happen.
Follow Chelsea Football FanCast on @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast