Chelsea begin the defence of the FA Cup at home against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Having managed to win our away matches over the Christmas and New Year period, it has
surprisingly been our inconsistent home form letting us down of late. We have won two,
drawn two and lost one of our last five league matches at Stamford Bridge. We’ve also not
found the net in our last two matches at home. Hopefully this can change as we return to one
of our most successful competitions. Our record in this competition since the final returned to
the new Wembley in 2007 is simply astonishing. In those twelve seasons we have won the
trophy five times. In that time frame we have also reached one semi final and been runners
up once. The only team with anything close to such a good recent record are Arsenal who
have three wins in the last five years. Extending this to the premier league era tells a similar
story, Arsenal with eight wins and Chelsea with seven top the list. Given this recent form,
backing Chelsea as the current third favourites at around 6/1 may be money well spent. We
have of course won the FA Cup in back to back seasons in 2009 and 2010, defeating Everton
and Portsmouth respectively.
For any Chelsea statisticians out there, drawing Forest at home in the FA Cup is a sure sign of
good luck. In both 2000 and 2007 we beat them on route to winning the trophy. Both
meetings were in the fourth round, with Frank Leboeuf and Dennis Wise scoring the goals
past former Chelsea keeper Dave Beasant in the 2000 tie, whilst Shevchenko and Drogba
netted early in 2007 followed by Mikel wrapping things up. The only other FA cup-tie
between the two sides was in the 1934 edition, and went to a replay after a 1-1 draw, Chelsea
winning the replay at the City ground 0-3 after two Hughie Gallagher goals, and one for
George Gibson. That was also a fourth round tie, but Chelsea would only reach the fifth
round, losing 3-1 away at Stoke.
The last meeting between the sides was a more recent affair, having taken place last season in
the third round of the league cup. Chelsea ran out 5-1 winners, with a Batshuayi hat trick
helping us on our way.
Nottingham Forest currently lie one place outside the playoff places, four points behind
Derby County. They beat top of the table Leeds in their last league fixture, winning 4-2 with
two goals from Jack Colback. They have been a bit of a mixed bag lately though, with the
win against Leeds being their only one in the last five. This was accompanied by defeats
against fellow London sides QPR and Millwall.
Some clues as far as Chelsea team news go were given by Gianfranco Zola in Friday
afternoons press conference; “ Willian, Giroud and Pedro will all miss the game, but it gives
space for some of the young players to play”, said the Italian legend. He went on, “Hazard
could be rested, but it is a chance for young player like Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi to get
another game”. On summation we can probably expect the line up to look something like
Caballero; Zappacosta, Ampadu, Christensen, Emerson;
Fabregas, Barkley, Kovacic;
Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Loftus-Cheek.
Whilst never a fan of taking liberties in this competition, this is a squad that will need rotating after such a busy schedule, and with a lot more matches ahead this month. Most of these
players have regularly featured in our Europa league matches anyway, where we progressed
top of the group with an unbeaten record.
Hopefully our good record in this competition against Forest can continue, and we can make
this the third Cup winning road to the final that they have featured in for us!