CHELSEA PAY HOST TO… AND LEICESTER
Wednesday night brings the Carling Cup Fourth Round to Stamford Bridge, and a visit from underachieving Leicester City. The Foxes have won four out of their last ten games and sit 15th in the Championship-currently without a manager. Not the ideal time for them to play a side who enter the game on the back of a 6-0 win at the weekend then! Unlike other Premier League teams who send their under-12’s out to play in the Carling Cup, Chelsea typically take this competition seriously and Avram Grant is likely to select a strong side. No wonder Gary Megson got out so quick, it just gets worse and worse for Leicester!
Chelsea’s strong side however will still be without Ashley Cole, John Terry and the forever stricken Michael Ballack, with all three on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see if the rejuvenated Paulo Ferreira is shifted from his recent left-back spot, either to his natural right-back berth or out of the starting XI altogether. In the third round win against Hull City we saw a goal from youngster Scott Sinclair who may be given another chance to impress against lower league opposition, while fringe players including Carlo Cudicini and Steve Sidwell could also make rare starts.
Leicester are already looking for their third manager of the season after Martin Allen left the club through mutual consent following a few spats with the club’s owner Milan Mandaric (the situation sounds a bit familiar), and Gary Megson-his replacement-jumped ship for Bolton Wanderers a mere 41 days after taking the helm at the Walkers Stadium. Frank Burrows is the caretaker manager at the time of writing and he will be looking to impress Mandaric enough to sit in the hot seat permanently. He started well on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Barnsley and his squad contains Premier League experience through players including Bruno N’Gotty, Carl Cort and Collins John-on loan from Fulham and one of Saturday’s goalscorers.
The last time we met Leicester was in the year they were relegated from the Premier League, with a 4-0 win at the Walkers Stadium in January 2004. A Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opener and a Nikos Dabizas own-goal were accompanied by two late goals, one from Adrian Mutu and a rare strike from Celestine Babayaro to give Chelsea an emphatic win in John Terry’s 100th league appearance for the Blues. Only Cudicini, Terry, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele and Joe Cole remain from the starting line-up on that day.
Leicester made it into the Fourth Round with an upset away to Aston Villa, with Matty Fryatt’s goal the difference between the two sides. They will be hoping and praying for a similar result at Stamford Bridge but with us on the up and them, well, with problems, I can’t see it myself. We should give some peripheral figures a run-out and enjoy the game, and pile more misery on the Foxes.
Prediction: Another clean sheet and a win with hopefully another good performance and a goal from Scott Sinclair!