The FA Cup Third Round weekend is one of the best of the footballing season. Although the competition isn’t as revered as it once was, there remains a sprinkling of magic and intriguing match-ups. There is also opportunity for fringe players to make their claim following a busy Christmas period. Chelsea welcome Nottingham Forest to Stamford Bridge, as two former European Cup winners come head-to-head. There is extra needle to this fixture, due to Frank Lampard’s brief spell in charge of Derby County, fierce rivals of the visiting team.
This is still talked about as a year of transition for Chelsea and recent inconsistency shows the work that remains for Frank Lampard. However, they have put themselves into a promising position to finish in the top four and challenge in the cups. The first trophy is key for any manager and the rookie Blues’ boss will know that he will need to win competitions to remain at Stamford Bridge for the long-term. This draw isn’t easy, but they should have more than enough to progress. This is a competition that Lampard should take seriously.
Meanwhile, the opposite could be true for Nottingham Forest. They are currently in the top-six in the Championship, with a great chance to secure a play-off position. It has been a long time since the famous club were in the top-flight and that has to remain the primary goal for Sabri Lamouchi. In past years, they have picked up a couple of notable results in this competition, including knocking Arsenal out at this stage in 2018.
Chelsea have only been knocked out twice in their last 50 FA Cup ties against teams outside of the top flight. The last time came in 2015 against Bradford City.
Nottingham Forest have never beaten Chelsea in this competition. This weekend will be their fifth meeting in the FA Cup.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was supposed to be the poster boy of the new Chelsea generation. He was on the fringes of the team last season, while the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham were out on loan. However, all four have made more of an impact in the Blues’ first-team since the arrival of Frank Lampard. Last season, supporters bemoaned a lack of opportunity for the flying winger with the regime not set-up to bring through young players. However, the same complaint can’t be made under Lampard. Everything is set up for the England international to thrive, but he has struggled to make an impact. This may be partly due to him being managed carefully following a serious injury. He should start this weekend and he needs to take this opportunity. Christian Pulisic and Willian are both ahead of him in the pecking order, while there are rumours that the club are looking to add another forward to the squad. Despite his lack of starts, he has provided three assists in 410 Premier League minutes. At 19, his talent is clear, but consistency is required for the teenager to break into the first team. He has a point to prove this weekend.
The Nottingham Forest attacker can provide excitement and dynamism on his day. He will have ambitions of playing in the Premier League in the next couple of seasons after featuring just a handful of times for Huddersfield Town. This weekend provides him with an opportunity to showcase his talent against one of the best teams in the country. Last season, he managed to contribute 11 goals and 11 assists in the Championship, underlining that he is carries a huge threat at that level. This season’s return of four goals and four assists is likely to be improved over the course of the next few months. Chelsea are vulnerable at home and Forest can be confident of causing problems for them. Lolley could be the player to make things happen on Sunday.
Marcos Alonso won’t be available, which should mean Emerson Palmieri is given another opportunity to impress. Olivier Giroud and Tomori could both miss out. There may be an opportunity for Michy Batshuayi amid rumours linking him with a move away.
There are no major injury concerns for the visitors. Chema is likely to miss out, but Yuri Ribeiro could return. Sammy Ameobi, Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley are all likely starters.
The home advantage should be enough to see Chelsea through to the next round. They have struggled at Stamford Bridge recently, but this is a great opportunity to get back to winning ways and inject positivity back into the stadium. Forest have been better in recent weeks, but they will want to prioritise their league campaign. The squad players for the Premier League side will want to shine and it could be a good outing for them.
Chelsea 3-1 Nottingham Forest