Chelsea have a real chance to target the FA Cup as they have been drawn to face Championship opposition for a second successive round. They will travel to face Hull City on Saturday, in what will be a potentially tricky tie. The home side have a number of talented players, but they are unlikely to finish in the top six this season. This is their opportunity to prove themselves against a Premier League side and some will see it as a chance to put themselves in the shop window. Frank Lampard’s side are under pressure after a disappointing week that saw them drop points twice in the final minutes of matches.
Hull City are entrenched in mid table in the Championship, with Grant McCann making a solid start to life in the dugout. This is his first opportunity in the Championship and he has steadied the ship, despite the continued protests against the Allam family. They are currently seven points off the play-offs. It isn’t completely out of their reach, but they will need to be much more consistent to break into the top six. They can approach this cup tie under no pressure and with home advantage, they could cause a real shock if they play to their potential.
This has become a huge fixture for Frank Lampard all of a sudden. The lack of consistency shown by any of their rivals means that they remain comfortable in the top four, despite two more poor results in the last seven days. However, supporters will be rightly concerned at the lack of consistency, as the team have already lost as many league games as they did in the entirety of last season. This needs to improve over the rest of the season, with progress needed to justify the faith in youth. A cup defeat for Chelsea would increase the pressure on both the coaching staff and the players. They need to avoid complacency and deliver a quality performance to improve the mood.
Hull City haven’t beaten Chelsea in a competitive match since 1988. They have played 16 times since then, with their last meeting being in this competition in 2018. Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners on that occasion.
Cesar Azpilicueta has scored four times during this season for Chelsea. This is his best return in front of goal since joining the club.
This is one of the biggest opportunities of Jarrod Bowen’s career to date. The attacker has lit up the Championship since Hull City’s relegation and there is a case to be made that he is the best player in the second tier. It is a surprise that he hasn’t been bought by a Premier League club yet, but his contract situation and Hull’s huge asking price have put off potential suitors. However, if he can shine against Chelsea, there could be renewed interest from top flight clubs before the window closes. The main doubt is whether he can replicate his form in the top tier and a performance against one of the league’s current top four will go a long way to ending those. The Tigers star is currently the third top scorer in the Championship, with 16 goals. Further to this, he has six assists to his name. Bowen averages 2.4 shots and 1.4 key passes per game, underlining his consistency and influence in the final third. The 23-year-old has scored an incredible 52 league goals during the last two-and-a-half seasons, with progression seen in each of them. In his previous two seasons, he managed only five assists. He has already surpassed this during the current campaign, showing how he is starting to create chances too.
Michy Batshuayi has forged a reputation as a super sub at Chelsea. His winning goal against Ajax earlier this season showed him at his best in the role. Unfortunately, he has often frustrated after coming on and he is a long way from the player that starred at Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. It is without doubt that his time at Stamford Bridge has been a failure up to this point. Several managers haven’t trusted him, but he seems determined to become a success. At the age of 26, time is quickly running out for him to establish himself as a starter. Despite his struggles, it is easy to have sympathy with the Belgian international, as he has played only 225 minutes across the Premier League and Champions League without a single start. Taking that into consideration, his return of two goals with one every 112.5 minutes is very respectable. In the domestic cup competitions, he has been given three starts and scored three times. There is still a player in there and Tammy Abraham’s injury could open up an opportunity for him. If not, this is a chance to remind the rest of the world of his talent. A January transfer could still be on the cards.
Kevin Steward and Jon Toral will be missing for the home side. In more positive news, Kamil Grosicki could be back to start for Hull City. Stephen Kingsley and Jordy de Wijs are also in contention to feature following injuries.
Rotation will be expected for the visitors. Pedro, Willy Caballero and Fikayo Tomori are all expected to start. Tammy Abraham will be missing through injury, which will give an opportunity to Batshuayi. Reece James and Christian Pulisic will miss out for Chelsea.
This is a tricky tie for the visitors and they will want to deliver a confident display to get their form back on track. There is an opportunity for the hosts to cause a cupset, given Chelsea’s issues when it comes to managing a game. They often give up chances and Hull have a player in Bowen that can punish them. That said, Lampard will be targeting his first trophy in charge of the Blues and the squad players will want to take their chance to impress. They should have enough attacking quality to reach the next round.
Hull City 1-2 Chelsea