Well it all comes down to Saturday doesn’t it?
Realistically, it’s Chelsea’s last competition to play for this season. Having exited the Champions League yesterday, and the league looking all but decided as far as Chelsea are concerned, the FA Cup is vital to any sort of success this campaign.
Given that they are in the Quarterfinal, it’s imperative that they advance for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s the Blues only chance for silverware. They must pursue it with everything they have.
Secondly, it’s a route into Europe. Chelsea should be lucky to play in the Europa League next season. I categorically disagree with the notion that it’s not worth it. More fixtures means more revenue, more opportunities to play youth talent, more silverware on the table, and an added avenue for Champions League qualification.
For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. So with all of this said, the FA Cup draw with Everton on Saturday is a must-win match for Chelsea, with all of their hopes on the line.
The Blues will enter the match in good FA Cup form, beating their last two opponents 5-1, even if it was against MK Dons and Manchester City’ s youth squad. Domestically the Blues have been pretty good too, though drawing more games than they should. Obviously they were also dumped out of the Champions League midweek at the hands of PSG.
Everton enter the match severely inconsistent. Certain performances this season have been sublime from the Toffees, including their 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park earlier in the season. However, other matches have been disheartening to say the least. Everton lost their last match in the league to West Ham 3-2.
Romelu Lukaku is their major threat, with Ross Barkley also dangerous when he’s at his best. Furthermore, Everton’s wingers could look to give Chelsea’s fullbacks problems, depending on who starts where for Chelsea.
It’ll be interesting to see if John Terry will be fit for the match and if he his, if he gets the nod in such a large match. Guus Hiddink had pointed to his return for the weekend as a possibility, but after watching him in the stands on Wednesday, anything is possible.
Overall, Chelsea need to hope and pray that Diego Costa is fit for the match. If he isn’t, Chelsea are going to struggle to create chances going forward. They’ve been dependent on the Spaniard during their resurgence the last few months and it’ll be hard to imagine them attacking well without Costa.
Traore looks capable, but perhaps not a match winner yet. Hazard can’t be counted on and we saw the first half of the season when Chelsea leaned too heavily on Willian.
Costa’s presence on Saturday is the key to the entire season for the Blues. If he doesn’t play, it’s hard to see Chelsea going through to the next round.
Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Kenedy, Mikel, Fabregas, Pedro, Willian, Hazard, Diego Costa.
Predicted Score: Chelsea 2, Everton 1
Predicted Goalscorers: Diego Costa (2), Romelu Lukaku