There’s a rather large question looming as Chelsea travel to Stadium mk to face MK Dons in the fourth round of the FA Cup. That question is whether or not the Blues look at the FA Cup as a priority.
Given Chelsea’s position in the league and the general uncertainty that comes with the Champions League, it’s hard to look at the FA Cup and not think that this might be a competition where there’s a real chance of winning silverware.
To get through to the next round of the FA Cup draw, the Blues have to go through an MK Dons side that’s had a rather up-and-down season this year.
Last year, the Dons earned automatic promotion from League One into the Championship and were heralded for their attacking prowess, playing good possession football en route to scoring 101 goals in last season’s league campaign.
However, this season, Karl Robinson’s men have found the step up a bit difficult, to say the least. While the Dons still try to employ a passing style of play, it hasn’t worked as well in the Championship, although they do tend to have a decent amount of possession.
Their real problem is an inability to score goals. The Dons have managed just 23 goals this season in the Championship, and their leading scorer Josh Murphy has 4 goals and tends to play in a wider position. Their two main striker Nicky Maynard and Simon Church have scored just 6 goals between them, and it’s one of the big reasons that they struggle.
It also doesn’t help that they’ve found it hard to not concede goals, either. The Dons are 18th in the Championship in goals conceded, shipping 41 in 28 matches this season, and have a -18 goal differential.
Suffice it to say, while an upset could be on the cards due to the inconsistency shown by the Blues this season, MK Dons would have to break the mould and put in a performance on both ends of the pitch in order to make that happen.
Guus Hiddink’s men will be looking to prevent that from happening. The Blues are still unbeaten under the Dutchman’s leadership and are coming off a 1-0 win away to Arsenal just last week. Most likely, in order to bring a bit of confidence and form back to the squad, a strong team will be fielded on Sunday, most likely with the familiar face of Eden Hazard back in the running to be back in the starting 11 after making a late substitute appearance against the Gunners.
But it’s not as if Chelsea don’t have history with upsets. Just three years ago, Brentford earned a surprise replay against the Blues after a 2-2 draw at Griffin Park, and just last year, the Blues lost to Bradford at Stamford Bridge, having gone 2-0 up inside 40 minutes only to throw it away through complacency in the second half.
This season, Chelsea will look to avoid seeing history repeat itself, and it would be better if it didn’t, given the fragile confidence that this year’s squad has displayed this season.