When the draw was made and Chelsea were paired against Leeds United at Elland Road in the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup it captured the imagination of the fans who have the opportunity to a rivalry that has its roots in the 1960s and spilled over during the infamous FA Cup final of 1970.
And today the controversy remains as the clubs respective managers Rafa Benitez and Neil Warnock are the subject of yet another trivial handshake row, but I digress, so it’s back to the football and after losing against Corinthians in the World Club Cup final the Blues will want to bounce back and this is a competition they will believe they can win, if they manage to beat ‘dirty Leeds’.
Chelsea are of course favourites but this is a cup tie that will be played in a hostile atmosphere and after watching Bradford City knock out the not-so mighty Arsenal last week, the home side may feel they are capable of some giant killing of their own and will have enjoyed watching our fragile midfield crumbling against an average Corinthians side at the weekend.
Benitez could have a selection headache on his hands as Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Gary Cahill are suspended, whilst has not yet recovered from injury and despite recovering from a hamstring problem, Daniel Sturringe may not be risked against Leeds tomorrow night.
Warnock’s side is also suffering a few omissions as Jerome Thomas and Lee Peltier are struggling for fitness, Alan Tate is cup-tied and goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown has a minor injury, but should feature.
The team I’d pick tomorrow:
C. Azpilicueta – B. Ivanovic – D. Luiz – R. Bertrand
Oscar – F. Lampard
M. Marin – J. Mata – E. Hazard
With our suspensions and injuries, the defence more of less picks itself but I believe Bertrand should play in the place of Ashley Cole, who has played a lot of football as well as doing a lot of travelling and was looking leggy anyway.
Not only does Lampard would have to resist the temptation to burst into the final third at every opportunity and provide the likes of Hazard, Mata and Marin/Oscar a springboard to attack, but they must also pull their weight defensively and the only one pressing the ball and tracking back in the last few games was the Belgian.
Fernando Torres is the default choice of forward. I’d be annoyed if the likes of Islam Feruz and Lucas Piazon don’t get any minutes on the pitch tomorrow.