Chelsea take on Championship side Portsmouth at home in the FA Cup this Sunday, hoping to build on Monday’s 2-1 win at Wolves, their first victory in five games. How many of the team that started that game will start this one is debatable, with it being fairly likely that Andre will shuffle the pack somewhat and try to bring in some youngsters. This is of course his first FA Cup game in charge of the Blues, so will show us how high in his priorities the competition lies. It is likely he will use the competition in a similar vain to how he used the Carling Cup, picking a mixture of first team stalwarts alongside younger stars such as Bertrand and Lukaku, whilst giving some regulars the chance for a rest.
The fact that there is no midweek game, our next game after this one being Sunderland at home on Saturday and the fact that a big win could significantly boost morale, may prey on his mind however and may lead him to play a stronger side than expected. Ross Turnbull, Ryan Bertrand, Sam Hutchinson after miraculously recovering and taking his place on the bench in recent games having at one time be told he would never play football at a high standard again, Nat Chalobah, Josh McEacran and Romelu Lukaku, will all be hoping otherwise. Fellow youngster and loan returnee Kakuta is unlikely to play as he looks to finalise a loan move to French side Dijon, however recent fringe players Mikel, Kalou and Malouda, all of whom have been linked with a move away, will also hope to be given some game time. Torres will hope to continue his impressive showing at Wolves and start this game, with Drogba’s trip to the African Cup of Nations looming.
We of course have recent FA Cup history with Portsmouth, having beaten them 1-0 in the final in 2010, a hard-fought victory in a game in which both teams missed a penalty. The memories of that game, the day in which we sealed the double and our third FA Cup triumph in four years at the new Wembley will live long in the memory. We also beat them 1-0 this summer in a friendly at Fratton Park, Chelsea old boy Tal Ben Haim with the only goal on that occasion. Our last Premier League encounters with them in the season of their relegation, our double winning season, ended with a 2-1 home and a 5-0 away win for the Londoners. Pompey’s last draw against us came in February 2008 and their last victory way back in 1960, in the league cup. We beat them 4-1 at Fratton Park in our last FA Cup clash against them in 1997 on route to winning the trophy.
Portsmouth currently sit 17th in the Championship and are now managed by Michael Appleton, having recently lost previous manger Steve Cotterrill to Nottingham Forest, a few weeks ago. Their last three results have been a 2-0 win at home to Watford, a 1-1 draw at Leicester and a 1-0 defeat at Millwall. There danger men are Norris and Varney, who are joint top scorers with five goals.
The officials are referee Anthony Taylor, assisted by Sian Massey and Jake Hillier, with fourth official Mark Clattenburg. The game has now sold out, with Portsmouth’s away fans occupying the whole of the shed end.
Other notable third round clashes to keep an eye on include the Manchester derby at the Etihad stadium, Arsenal taking on Leeds in a repeat of last season’s third round clash and a midlands derby between Birmingham and Wolves.