TURNBULL: HANDS-ON ROLE
It is safe to say Ross Turnbull has packed plenty of drama into his Carling Cup campaign so far.
The 26-year-old goalie has featured in the wins against Fulham and Everton that set up tonight's quarter-final against Liverpool yet for contrasting reasons, he has not played the whole of either tie. He has also been a penalty shoot-out hero, faced a spot kick in open play and executed arguably the best save of his Chelsea career so far.
It started for Turnbull after Petr Cech took a knock to the head in the home game against neighbours Fulham and decided at half-time he could not continue. It was a brief spell of injuries throughout our goalkeeping ranks and Turnbull had been the only option for the bench despite not being fully fit himself.
'I was struggling with my ankle,' he recalls. 'I wasn't in a lot of pain but it was sore doing some movements. I just about got through it. I was on the bench the game before against Man United and I was really struggling back then, but a few days later I managed to get through the Fulham game. It wasn't easy but you have to do it for the team and it was an opportunity.'
He had reason to believe it was going to be his night just two minutes into the half when despite losing Alex to a red card and a subsequent penalty, Chelsea survived when Pajtim Kasami hit the bar. Later on Turnbull pulled off a marvellous reaction save from the same player who was only four yards out when he shot. Matching Petr Cech's stop from Portsmouth's Frederic Piquionne in the 2010 FA Cup Final, Turnbull pushed it over the bar.
'We have been lucky in the two games that our opponents have missed two penalties in normal play but you gain your own luck by the attitude the lads have put into the tournament.
'The save I made against Fulham was like a session that [goalkeeper coach] Christophe [Lollichon] has put on many a time where the ball has been played back and I come forward and it ends up being a reaction save. The session was match-related and that is why I made the save.'
The game ended goalless and it was to get better still for Turnbull as he saved one in the penalty shoot-out (pictured top) and Fulham hit the bar again with another.
He was selected from the start up at Everton in the following round and the game started well. He made some good saves and watched his opposite number, Jan Mucha, let in a howler before a foul just before the hour on Louis Saha meant Turnbull was sent off. Would a penalty conceded have been punishment enough? It is a recurring argument in football.
'At the time the ball came in I didn't know whether he [Saha] was going to shoot so I just wanted to make myself as big a possible, so when he touched the ball on I tried to bring my legs in not to foul him - but strikers don't try to jump over you and the rules say a goal-scoring opportunity, you have to go off.
'I think it is harsh if you make a genuine attempt to play the ball, maybe it is different if you make an obvious attempt to make a foul to stop him from scoring, but it is the rule and it is just one of those things you live with that if you are a keeper and you make a foul, it is often a red card.'
All's well that ends well and the subsequent penalty was saved, Cech excelled as the replacement and although Everton did later equalise, Daniel Sturridge scored to put Chelsea in the last eight where we meet a Premier League club for the third time in the campaign.
'The draw has not been kind to us but that is part and parcel of it if we are going to go on and win the competition,' says Turnbull. 'It is going to be a tough game but you have to beat teams like Liverpool when the aim is to pick up a trophy.'
It is unknown yet whether Turnbull will be the Carling Cup keeper tonight but if he is, though it has been an exciting ride so far, he would probably settle for a few less penalties faced, no red cards for his side and his record of not conceding in the competition so far this season to stay intact.
There are still hospitality packages available for tonight's game plus seats only in hospitality areas for £80.
The game can be watched in full on Chelsea TV from midnight.