Chelsea vs Blackburn

Chelsea vs Blackburn

Chelsea host Championship side Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.

The Blues had a run of promising results punctured by a demoralising home defeat to Brentford on Saturday that left Mauricio Pochettino once again cursing Chelsea‘s bad luck in front of goal.

Blackburn know the feeling. Despite racking up 20 shots against Swansea City, Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side failed to find the net in a 1-0 loss. Only goal difference kept Blackburn out of last season’s Championship play-offs.

Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday’s cup tie.

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Enzo Fernandez missed his first Premier League game since joining Chelsea last weekend / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The misfortune looming over Chelsea extends beyond finishing to fitness. Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk were the latest arrivals in a crowded treatment room last weekend.

Pochettino downplayed the severity of the “small muscle strain” that sidelined the duo against Brentford and Fernandez appears to have shaken off any niggle. Mudryk is also in contention ahead of Monday’s Premier League trip to high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.

Long-term absentees Wesley Fofana (ACL), Romeo Lavia (ankle) and Ben Chilwell (hamstring) are not expected back in the near future. Christopher Nkunku is nearing his long-awaited return but is targeting the end of November.

The youthful duo of Trevoh Chalobah and Carney Chukwuemeka would have been primed to earn crucial minutes in this competition but both have significant fitness doubts. Armando Broja is also nursing a knee injury.

Pochettino confirmed that club captain Reece James would start and promised “to try and play with our best team”.

Chelsea predicted lineup vs Blackburn (4-2-3-1): Sanchez; James, Disasi, Colwill, Cucurella; Gallagher, Fernandez; Madueke, Palmer, Sterling; Jackson.

Sam Gallagher has been limited to just two Championship starts this season / Cameron Smith/GettyImages

Tomasson lost last season’s top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz on a free transfer to Villarreal over the summer and has been without the club’s next most prolific striker since mid-September.

Much to the surprise of player and manager, the niggle that forced Sam Gallagher off against Middlesbrough was a tendon issue that has sidelined him for six weeks already. Gallagher is on the cusp of returning but there is the distinct danger of a relapse if players are rushed back from these types of injuries.

Goalkeeper Aynsley Pears is also nearing full recovery from a foot problem but Lewis Travis (calf) and Ryan Hedges (hamstring) are set for more time on the sidelines.

Blackburn predicted lineup vs Chelsea (3-5-2): Flekken; Ajer, Collins, Pinnock; Roerslev, Jensen, Norgaard, Janelt, Hickey; Mbeumo, Wissa.

Despite their wasteful trip to Wales last weekend, Blackburn are the leading scorers in this season’s EFL Cup, boasting 17 goals in three games. However, Rovers have benefitted from a kind draw which pitted them against two fourth-tier clubs before a home clash with Championship rivals Cardiff City.

For all their struggles, particularly at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea should pose a much trickier challenge.

Blackburn boss Tomasson lost all three of his meetings with Chelsea during his playing days for Newcastle United and Feyenoord in the late 1990s. If the Blues even reach half of their potential, Tomasson’s losing streak should continue this midweek.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn


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