Chelsea’s defeat to PSG midweek leaves the West London club on the brink of elimination from the Champions League.
An away goal gives Guus Hiddink’s side hope, but with PSG in sumptuous form and defensive injuries hampering the reigning Premier League champions, you would put your money on the French side progressing to the quarter finals.
With the Premier League out of the grasp and the League Cup final being contested Liverpool and Man City next week, it leaves the FA Cup as Chelsea’s only realistic shot at silverware.
A visit from title chasing Man City, probably wasn’t the draw Hiddink was hoping for but they catch the Manchester club at the right time and Football Fanzone’s Jason Cundy is quietly confident that Chelsea can progress past Manuel Pellegrini’s side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon:
The 2-1 defeat against PSG midweek isn’t the be all and end all of the tie, but leaves the FA Cup as our most realistic shot at silverware this season. I expect Hiddink to name a strong team and really give the game and competition a go with League also being out of the picture for us.
The team on Tuesday was hampered by injuries and suspensions so we could see Nemanja Matic recalled to slot in beside Mikel but personally I would advise against that, instead I would keep Cesc beside Mikel as on Tuesday night but further forward swap Hazard for Oscar.
The last time Hiddink came in at The Bridge he won the FA Cup, beating Everton in the 2009 final, and it will be a competition he will want to win again not only personally but for the club to rubber stamp the job he has done.
These two sides met at the start of the season and this will be in the consciousness of many fans, given the outcome as City ran riot in a 3-0 win. But it is blatantly obvious that the two sides are completely different from the two sides that squared off at The Etihad in August, as Chelsea were on their knees and City were really at the top of their game. Now it is Chelsea who are better form whilst City are struggling with their last 2 games ending in defeat, both at home to Leicester and Tottenham respectively.
The game itself will be interesting, Pellegrini faces some tough decisions team selection wise with a trip to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv preceding the League Cup final against Liverpool next Sunday. Will he be tempted to rest players? Pellegrini bemoaned the FA’s scheduling of the game and whilst I do have sympathy, Chelsea faced a similar issue with a Saturday evening game against Newcastle followed by a Tuesday evening game with PSG.
If Pellegrini does opt to rest players we could see a back four of Bacary Sagna partnering Nicolas Otamendi, with Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy on the wings as he did against Aston Villa in the last round, a mouthwatering prospect for Chelsea. They will feel they can do a job on that back line, especially in the wide areas with Baba Rahman and Cesar Azpilicueta overlapping Pedro and Willian.
Costa has found form of late, and I fancy him to have a go at City’s potential makeshift central defensive pairing, especially with the likes of Pedro, Willian, Azpilicueta and Rahman feeding him.
Speaking of Rahman, he has shown a marked improvement since being given a chance. There were question marks over him early in the season, especially after that game with Aston Villa, but he has shown himself to be a good full back both in the attacking and defensive sense.
He was impressive against PSG refusing to allow himself to be sucked in and pulled out of position. He was composed and retained the ball well and could have had an assist had Costa dealt with his cross better. That’s one of his strong points, he likes to put the ball in first time, something defenders hate and attackers love. He could have a say in Sunday’s game.
The game will be tight, but it seems like things are working in Chelsea’s favour with home advantage and a potentially weakened team from City, due to the Champions League and a trip to Wembley. We are on the up, whilst they have been struggling especially since the announcement of Pep Guardiola. It feels like we are catching them at the right time, so don’t be shocked at a Chelsea win even if the league table suggests otherwise.