Jose Mourinho is expected to ring the changes after our draw with Manchester City at the weekend, ahead of our League Cup third round tie with Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers.
Given our lofty league standing, the League Cup may be given lesser focus – as is seemingly customary nowadays from the ‘bigger’ sides – and as a result it may not be surprising to see an entirely different starting 11 to the one that kicked off at the Etihad.
Petr Cech may get his first start this season in goal ahead of Thibaut Courtois, though third-choice Mark Schwarzer may even get the nod – and given Mourinho previously stating that Cech and Courtois are co-number ones rather than a clear one-two in the pecking order, the 41-year-old Australian may be chosen to protect both of our preferred goalkeepers.
It has already been confirmed Diego Costa will not start, and so it is expected either Didier Drogba or Loic Remy will lead line for the Blues. Given Drogba started against Schalke last Tuesday, Mourinho may see fit to give Remy his first start since joining from West London rivals QPR on deadline day.
Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic – all of whom played 90 minutes on Sunday – may be replaced by the likes of Oscar, John Obi Mikel and Mohamed Salah.
It is not just squad players who will be expecting a run out against Bolton, several youngsters will be hoping Wednesday night’s game will represent a chance to show their credentials to the boss. The highly rated midfield playmaker Lewis Baker will be hoping to be in Mourinho’s thoughts for the game, while should any changes be made to the back four, Kurt Zouma and 19-year-old Nathan Ake will hope to be contention. 18-year-old Andreas Christensen has travelled with the first team squad on numerous occasions already and may be hoping to finally make his first-team debut, having consistently impressed at U21 level playing at centre-back.
Given we have only 3 first team strikers, there may even be a place on the bench for striker Dom Solanke, who despite only just turning 17 a week ago, found himself in scintillating form for the under-18’s last season, scoring 20 times in 28 games for Adi Viveash’s men. He linked up with the first-team squad this summer during our pre-season schedule and featured several times.
Our visitors may also make several changes, in light of their troublesome league position. The Trotters sit 21st in the Championship, only outside the drop zone on goal difference and so Dougie Freedman may too rotate to avoid injury to one of his star men in their early bid to steer away from the relegation zone.
Joe Mason is currently top scorer with 4 goals and may feature, while Jermaine Beckford has 2 goals in 2 games in this season’s competiton and may be preferred ahead of the Cardiff loanee. Neil Danns also boasts the same scoring record from midfield and too may feature. Paddy Kenny may receive his first start in goal since signing on a free, replacing Hungary international Adam Bogdan. Kevin McNaughton is also tipped to play, while youngsters Oscar Threlkeld, Chris Lester and Conor Wilkinson have already featured for Bolton in this season’s Cup campaign and will be hoping to do so again.
The head-to-head record confirms what the bookies have been saying, pointing strongly to a Chelsea win. Having met 110 times over the years, Chelsea lead 48-27, with 35 draws. Bolton’s last win against Chelsea was actually at Stamford Bridge, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Bruno N’Gotty and a last minute own goal from John Terry. Their last win at The Bridge before that however came way back in 1975, so it is fair to suggest we have not been a happy hunting ground for the Lancashire side, and Jose Mourinho will be hoping that record shall continue and no major upsets will be occurring Wednesday night.