FA Cup Third Round
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 3 January
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
So, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first taste of the FA Cup comes at home against Southend today, but even with them being over 50 places below us, we shouldn’t be taking anything for granted. We might have a strong record in the FA Cup, but it only took Barnsley to put us out last year and we’ve already gone out of the Carling Cup to Burnley this season. Add to that only two wins from our last five games in the league, and Scolari had better be taking this one seriously.
Southend aren’t exactly in top form themselves, with no away win from their last eight. As for the FA Cup, the Shrimpers have only managed to get through the third round once in 15 seasons, failing to score in the last four away.
Mind you, Southend manager Steve Tilson is looking forward to the game, stating “We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it brings a bit of money into the football club. I think for a club of our size is important to have a decent cup run, whether it’s the FA Cup, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy or League Cup. From that point of view we’ve had a good run in it and I couldn’t have asked for a better tie.”
On the team front, Luiz Felipe Scolari has made a fair few changes. Michael Essien (knee) remains out injured and is joined by our latest casualties – Florent Malouda and Alex who both have hamstring injuries and Jose Bosingwa. Both John Terry and Michael Ballack are suspended and Wayne Bridge is on his way to Citeh, so Scolari’s options were always going to be limited anyway. Fair play to the Chelsea boss though, he’s used the opportunity to add a few of our younger players to the squad, with 17 year old defender Jeffrey Bruma, 19 year old midfielder Lee Sawyer and loan returner Michael Mancienne all drafted in. 19 year old Miroslav Stoch makes a return to the squad, as does Franco Di Santo following his hamstring injury.
For Southend striker Francis Laurent should be available again after illness as is Jean Francois-Christophe following his permanent transfer from Portsmouth. Lee Barnard could start, with Alex Revell demoted to the bench and Johnny Herd is also expected to start following Dan Harding’s return to Ipswich.
Didier Drogba – the Ivorian should get a place in the starting eleven with Scolari confirming he needs the games following his return from injury. He’s not exactly flavour of the month right now, so from him, we’ll either get a storming performance or another attempt to take over Anelka’s Le Sulk tag.
Dougie Freedman – the Scot is finding the back of the net for Southend and will certainly be looking to have a go at the Chelsea defence in the absence of a couple of our regulars.
Chelsea are unbeaten in six games in all competitions. We haven’t made our exit earlier than the fifth round of the FA Cup for ten seasons and last season’s quarter-final defeat to Barnsley was the first time we’d been beaten by lower league opposition since 1995.
28 Dec v Fulham (A) Premier League DREW 2-2
26 Dec v West Bromwich Albion (H) Premier League WON 2-0
22 Dec v Everton (A) Premier League DREW 0-0
14 Dec v West Ham United (H) Premier League DREW 1-1
9 Dec v CFR Cluj (H) Champions League WON 2-1
Southend have lost four of their last five games and have failed to win away from home in their last eight attempts. Made the fourth round of the FA Cup in the 2006-2007 season although that was the only time they’ve managed it in 15 seasons.
Current FormTHEND UNITED
28 Dec v Milton Keynes Dons (A) League One LOST 2-0
26 Dec v Northampton Town (H) League One WON 1-0
19 Dec v Hartlepool United (A) League One LOST 3-0
13 Dec v Huddersfield Town (H) League One LOST 1-0
6 Dec v Leicester City (A) League One LOST 3-0
HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea and Southend have met on two previous occasions, with Chelsea winning them both. The last time we met in the FA Cup was some 96 years ago where we came out with a 5-2 win in the first round.
We’ll definitely be favourites going into this game but as we well know, with Southend having absolutely nothing to lose, a walkover is unlikely. Scolari has made some pretty big changes to the squad and we’ve no idea what effect that’ll have, so Southend or not, it could be a nervy game. Personally, I think a lot will depend on which Didier Drogba turns up for us.
CHELSEA (from): Cudicini, Hilario, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Mancienne, A Cole, J Cole, Mikel, Mineiro, Belletti, Lampard, Kalou, Deco, Sawyer, Bruma, Stoch, Anelka, Drogba, Di Santo
SOUTHEND (from): Mildenhall, Barrett, Clarke, Francis, Herd, Joyce, Milsom, Sankofa, Wilson, Betsy, Christophe, Grant, Laurent, Lokando, McCormack, Moussa, O’Keefe, Orenuja, Stanislas, Barnard, Freedman, Furlong, Hazell, Revell, Walker
Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)