After our winning streak was ended at thirteen on Wednesday night, we now set our sights on the beginning of another one, this time in the FA cup, where six wins on the trot, less than half of what we just achieved, would see us lift the trophy at Wembley in May!
Peterborough are our third round visitors on Sunday. We have only met on two previous occasions in our history, both of which were FA cup matches, and each time we scored five! The first meeting of the sides marked the furthest that Peterborough have ever got in the competition. The year was 1965, and Chelsea hosted Peterborough at Stamford Bridge at the quarterfinal stage. Five years after being elected to the football league, the posh were a third division side, and Chelsea were entering what was to be a great era with an exciting young side. 1-0 wins over West Ham and Tottenham with goals from Tambling and Bridges respectively in the previous two rounds had taken us to this stage for the first time since 1952, where we made the semis only to lose to Arsenal after a replay. We would repeat the feat of making the semis – and losing – in this season and the next, before finally making the final in 1967. But the less said about that the better. Bobby Tambling would find the net twice against Peterborough, and ended as our top scorer in the competition in 1965 with five strikes. Bridges, the vanquisher of Tottenham in the previous round, and second in our FA cup goal scorers list that season, also scored, as did Hollins and Murray. Vic Crowe has the record of being the only man (so far) to have scored for Peterborough United against Chelsea. The second of our meetings came at the third round stage fifteen years ago in the 2000/01 season. There was a brace of goals for a Chelsea player again here, and like Tambling, it was another Chelsea legend converting twice, Gianfranco Zola. Poyet, Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen were the other blues to find the back of the net. We would make it as far as the fifth round in our defence of the competition this time, succumbing 1-3 to Arsenal at Highbury.
While the last meeting saw Claudio Ranieri field a full strength Chelsea side, as he always did, in the third round tie, it remains to be seen whether Antonio Conte will do the same. Our three match run in this season’s league cup saw Chelsea fielding vastly changed elevens to that of our league fixtures. Personally, I’m not one for resting players in cup fixtures. Chelsea have a rich and proud history in this competition, and I would like to see that maintained, and resting players against lower league opposition only raises the percentage chance of a cup upset occurring. You don’t need to have a long memory to recall this happening at Stamford Bridge. With our next match not being until the following Saturday evening, there is sufficient recovery time after this fixture. However I do appreciate that we are at the back end of a heavy fixture list over the festive period, and changes are inevitable here. Clever money is on Begovic coming in between the sticks, Batshuayi upfront, and possibly Chalobah and Aina also getting outings. One appearance from the bench I’m sure we would all be pleased to see, would be that of Kurt Zouma. After a long injury lay-off, He has been an unused sub in our last five fixtures.
Peterborough lay eight in league 1, with a match in hand, which if they win would move them up to sixth. Unbeaten in seven, including their 2-2 draw, and subsequent replay win against Notts County, they have drawn their last three matches 1-1, the last of which was against third placed Scunthorpe. So the long odds shots for the punters among you are either a 1-1 draw, or Chelsea scoring five!
It would be good to bounce straight back with a win after the disappointment of Wednesday, and hopefully start a new winning streak beginning in the FA cup.