We have zero injuries hampering Jose’s selection options. Mourinho said he would field a strong team, which is totally ambiguous since any team we put out is going to be strong. However, with Tuesday’s League Cup Semi-Final coming, changes are highly likely. Terry is going to be rested and Zouma will take his place. Schurrle is set to start, probably in place of Willian. Those two changes are probably facts, but other changes are possible – Drogba, Ramires, Remy and Salah could well see significant minutes. The big question mark is whether Mourinho will be prepared to go into this game without Hazard, Matic and Fabregas. Somehow I doubt all three will start.
Considering this, Jose could play a very unfamiliar team. On the other hand, Mourinho has shown nothing but respect to every opponent this season, so a team not too dissimilar from the one that drew in Liverpool wouldn’t be too much of a surprise either.
Our opponents have some injury concerns ahead of the match. Attacker Billy Clarke has a knee injury, and central defender Andrew Davies suffered a tweak in their last match against Yeovil. Bradford also have two ex-Chelsea players in Billy Knott and Filipe Morais. According to Phil Parkinson, the Bradford manager,
“Filipe is understandably chomping at the bit for the weekend. We had to drag him off the training pitch today (Thursday) otherwise he’d still be practicing his crosses and set-pieces now – he is so eager to play well in the game.”
And concerning Billy Knott:
“Billy is an exceptional talent for us and he has the ability to play higher than our league given his footballing brain.”
It’s nice to see that, even though the Chelsea Academy hasn’t produced much for the First Team, it has at least created professional football players. Ultimately, this is the entire point of any Academy.
Last Chelsea game: Chelsea 6 – 0 Arsenal
Last Bradford game: Bradford 2 – 1 Milton Keynes Dons
Most interesting game: 2013 FA Cup Final Man City 0 – 1 Wigan Athletic
Bradford have two giant centre-forwards in Jon Stead and James Hanson. The latter is 6’4” and the clubs top goal-scorer with 7. Their approach will most likely be a 4-4-2 formation with a number of balls being launched into the box the preferred method of attack. Our probable centre-backs, Cahill and Zouma, will certainly be tested in this game if Matic and the full-backs are nowhere to be seen.
However, it’s likely that we will have the majority of the possession as a natural consequence of our quality and style; and because Bradford must come into this with a cautious approach. The 4-4-2-Bus is a perfectly sound defensive formation – will we be able to make the breakthrough with a changed team?
Phil Parkinson spoke about the approach his team will take:
“We are certainly not going to go there and sit back for the whole game. If we do that, then we are asking for trouble. It is getting that balance right. We want to have a solid platform for the game but also the ability to get forward and attack. We have players in our squad who I hope can cause Chelsea problems. Players like James Hanson, for example, hopefully might give them something to think about come Saturday. When we have played teams from higher divisions in the past we have managed to cause them problems.
This club has recent with knockout competitions. During the 2012/13 League Cup they reached the Final having defeated three Premiership teams: Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa. They eventually succumbed 5 – 0 to Swansea in the Final.
In the FA Cup however, their record is less impressive. In the last ten seasons, their best effort was a Third Round loss to Watford in 2011/12.
Winners in 1911.
Beaten in the Fifth Round by Man City last year, we nonetheless have an excellent record in the Cup. In the last ten years we have won it four times, and reached two Semi-Finals. The last team outside of the Premiership to beat us in the FA Cup was Barnsley in 2008. If we win the FA Cup this year, it would draw us level with Tottenham – 8 Cups each.
Winners in 1970, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012
Chelsea 2 – 0 Bradford.
Schurrle and Cahill to score.