PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: BLACKBURN ROVERS V CHELSEA
Chelsea beat Blackburn 5-0 a little over a month ago at Stamford Bridge, but the visiting Blues are unlikely to be at full-strength in this competition tonight.
Jose Bosingwa, Alex and Daniel Sturridge are definitely unavailable. Others, such as Ashley 'two-assists' Cole, may be rested ahead of our weekend trip to Eastlands to play Manchester City - the fourth of this testing quartet of away matches.
The hosts would be delighted if Nicolas Anelka was one of those absentees:
the in-form Frenchman has netted ten times against them in his career, three times while at Chelsea.
Carlo Ancelotti will also want to blend in some of his promising youngsters with a view to cover when the squad is stretched in January. The emphatic scoreline against Rovers allowed the Italian boss to bring on Sturridge and impressive centre-back Jeffrey Bruma in the second half. Gael Kakuta, Nemanja Matic and Fabio Borini are all available for some action.
Although Sam Allardyce is still not sufficiently recovered from surgery to return to the dugout, his deputy Neil McDonald has continued their good run at Ewood and maintained the same 4-4-1-1 tactical approach.
Rovers saw off Championship side Peterborough in the previous round with a much-changed team. As a result of their good home form (they are wretched away) they are in no immediate danger of dropping into a relegation place and might have taken a chance by naming a stronger team tonight.
However, two of the key men in their recent performances have been solo striker Franco Di Santo, ruled out under the terms of his loan from Chelsea, and deeper-lying forward David Dunn, who is injured.
It is likely that without those two they will play even more direct football than usual with two big men upfront. Petr Cech - or possibly Hilario - might expect a bombardment.