FA Cup fourth round
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 24 January
Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Today sees us take on Ipswich Town at Stamford Bridge. The Tractor Boys might well be 28 places below us in the league but that doesn’t mean there’s any room for complacency bearing in mind it took a replay to get past Southend in the last round. Not forgetting our exit to Barnsley in last year’s quarter finals either. So, let’s hope the lads turn up to play rather than stroll about or even worse, give away set-pieces we can’t defend.
Ahead of the game, Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins says “Ipswich have the fourth-best away record in their division. They had a fantastic win at Crystal Palace last week and have players who have played at Premiership level. But we’re at home and the onus is on us to get after them and make it as uncomfortable for them as we can. We got beaten by a better side on the night with Burnley. Then against Southend we couldn’t put away the second goal. We’re back on track, we’re in good form and the lads are training especially well.”
Whilst Ipswich assistant manager John Gorman says “We know we will have fantastic support at Chelsea on Saturday and we are going there to give it a real go, we will have 6000 fans there and don’t want to let them down. We want to put on a good show and come away from the game – whatever the result – with our heads held high. Burnley have showed what can be achieved by a Championship club this season with their performances in the Carling Cup and Derby did the same and gave Manchester United a real game the other night so it would be nice to follow that. We have to be realistic though. Chelsea are a fantastic team and have some wonderful players. I’m a big fan of Frank Lampard’s in particular. He’s an outstanding player and they have quality right through the side. Their spirit looks good as well. I know they left it late against Stoke last week but the fact they kept going right until the 94th minute to get the winner shows you that. Stoke did well in that game but if you looked at the match, Chelsea must have had 30 shots at goal. It’s an exciting occasion for the supporters and the players are looking forward to the challenge. We have no real pressure on us. It’s a big task for us and if I’m honest, the Barnsley game on Tuesday night is the one that really counts. That doesn’t mean we are not worried about the outcome of the cup tie, of course we are. We are going there to win or at least get a draw but obviously the Championship is our number one goal.”
On squad news, long term absentee Michael Essien remains out and he’s now joined by Joe Cole who misses the rest of the season following surgery on his cruciate ligament. John Terry is also added to the missing list having failed to recover from the back spasm that saw him miss our last game. Michael Ballack picked up a knock in training but should make it, although John Obi Mikel is suspended having notched up too many yellows. As for Didier Drogba, who’s missed our last couple of games because he’s been a dick, I guess we’ll wait and see whether he’s involved.
For Ipswich, Ivan Campo and Moritz Volz miss out through injury whilst David Wright and Ben Thatcher return from time out.
Chelsea are undefeated in 5 games at home and have lost just one game from their last ten home and away.
As far as the FA Cup goes, we haven’t gone out before the fifth round in eleven seasons and we’ll be looking to stretch our unbeaten home record in the FA Cup to 15 games.
The Tractor Boys are unbeaten in four games and go into this game off the back of a 4-1 win away at Palace. However, they’ve lost their last nine games against Premier League opposition.
In the FA Cup, Ipswich have only managed the last 16 once in 12 years and the last four seasons has seen their exit at the hands (or feet) of Premier League opposition.
HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea are unbeaten in eight against Ipswich (league and cup), winning four and drawing four, whilst Ipswich haven’t won at Stamford Bridge for 30 years. In the FA Cup itself, we’ve already met twice at the Bridge and we’ve won on both occasions.
I haven’t got a bloody clue to be honest, can you really predict cup games as easily as league games? Especially Chelsea cup games! Again this one’s going to depend on the Chelsea that turns up. Ipswich have nothing to lose, so they’ll be coming to give us a game – and no doubt exploit any weaknesses in the same way Southend did. So, if we go out there showing any complacency at all, we could get punished for it. Having said that, if we show anywhere near the attitude we showed against Stoke in our last game, then it should be comfortable enough.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Ferreira, Bosingwa, Alex, Ivanovic, Mancienne, Carvalho, A Cole, Belletti, Kalou, Lampard, Deco, Ballack, Drogba, Anelka, Stoch, Di Santo, Malouda, Mineiro, Bruma, Sawyer.
Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)