Chelsea’s defence of the Carling Cup kicks off this evening with a trip up to Hull for Avram’s first game in the competition.

Even with players such as Drogba and Lampard still on the missing list, those who will take to the field should still have enough quality to dispatch a team not performing overly well in the Championship so far this season.

The tigers have some names that many will recognise playing for them, former Bolton star Jay Jay Okacha as well as Nicky Barmby, Henrik Pedersen, Michael Bridges and Dean ‘large ass’ Windass all having dropped down a level from their previous Premiership clubs to play at The KC Stadium.

Despite many seeing this as a chance to build some confidence and score some goals, it won’t be as easy a match as some may think. Chelsea are lacking cohesion and a genuine target man with the absence of Drogba and Pizarro, although the latter did appear in the late stages of the United match.

Mikel will be suspended thanks to a Mike Dean’s cock up at Old Trafford and so may be replaced by Sidwell in the middle of the park alongside Makelele and Essien. The defence will probably remain unchanged although after Ben Haim’s showing on Sunday, Alex may well get the nod ahead of him.

With so much of the focus on Chelsea being off the pitch lately, I’m sure it’ll be nice for the players to have the games coming thick and fast, to enable them to do what they do best and not worry themselves too much about everything else surrounding the club.

This match could turn out to be a timely injection of belief in the players and also coaching staff, however anything other than a victory here may see the management and club further castigated by all and sundry, with what surely would be a detrimental effect for the following weeks.

There aren’t many ‘must win’ games this early in the season, but for the next few weeks at Chelsea FC, that tag will probably apply to every one of them.

Prediction: A tight game, not pretty as Hull will look to frustrate us in a similar way that Rosenborg did. Chelsea should be able to do enough on the night and take away at least a 2-1 win.

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