If there was a perfect movie title for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup fixture, ‘Frank Lampard: Homecoming’ would pretty much sum up all you need to know.
The former England Midfielder and rightly ‘Chelsea Legend’ will be looking forward to the game for many a reason, not just the obvious draw pairing which raised a few eyebrows. FA Youth Cup winning coach and former Chelsea man Jody Morris will be returning in the dugout alongside Frank.
The plot thickened after Chelsea allowed their two youngsters, who are out on loan to Derby, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount to play against their parent club in the game at Stamford Bridge.
Mount, who has had a very positive impact for Lampard’s team this season, limped off in their 1-1 draw against Middlesborough on Saturday. News has been that he is overcoming the problem and is likely to start the game on Wednesday.
Tomori has also impressed the Derby fans on the weekend with one of his best performances of the season. The youngster made five clearances and won five ariel duels throughout the game against the Teesiders.
Derby’s form has seen them draw 3 of their last 5 games, however beating Sheffield United and West Brom along the way.
Chelsea enter Wednesday night in good spirits after they put Burnley to the sword with their 0-4 scoreline on Sunday. Eden Hazard missed the trip up north and is very likely to sit out once more as he looks to regain full fitness for the game against Crystal Palace next Sunday
Pedro and Giroud are both doubts with illness and injury, meaning there is likely to be room for a non-regular starter to take a place within the first eleven.
Emerson is likely to slot into the left-back role with Christensen a more probable choice at centre-back, alongside Gary Cahill. Zappacosta is also very likely to complete the back four.
Don’t be surprised to see Caballero make an appearance instead of the much recently used Kepa.
In midfield, Kovacic could start alongside Loftus-Cheek and Fabregas.The Carabao Cup fixture represents a good chance to start Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left, with both Pedro and Hazard as doubts. A Musonda Nottingham Forest-esque game from last year would certainly be a good level for Odoi to aim at and better.
Morata could create a much needed goal-scoring streak whilst forgotten man Victor Moses could start from the off.
Frank Lampard’s first season as first-team coach at Derby this year has been one of various sorts. Winning, drawing and losing with his side with the end result sitting in a respective sixth place in the Sky Bet Championship. Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea have yet to be beaten this year aside from the Community Shield.
Gianfranco Zola was full of praise for Lampards return, and it is sure to be an emotional night all round. Over the years this fixture hasn’t excited many people and it has ended on the Blues side on most of the occasions, but this one in particular has different reasons. There will be a sell-out crowd at the Bridge, as many Blues fans will applaud, cheer and maybe sing the ‘Frankie Lampard scored 200..’.
My Chelsea XI in full for this fixture:
Kepa, Emerson, Christensen, Cahill, Zappacosta, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Moses.
Bradley Walton – @Brad29_