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PMB: Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game...


• With the league trip to Bournemouth just three days away, Maurizio Sarri is likely to make a host of changes to his starting XI against Sheffield Wednesday. Rest has eased Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s back problem and the midfielder may return this weekend. Expect some big guns to be on the bench just in case.

• The Italian’s desire to rest central midfielder Jorginho in cup games is complicated by the departure of straight replacement Cesc Fabregas. Ethan Ampadu may be tested in that role, while Thursday’s goalscorer N’Golo Kante played 15 minutes there in the previous round at home to Forest.

 


• On-loan Juventus centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain is eligible to play in this match. Serie A’s record goalscorer in a season (36 in 2015/16 under Maurizio Sarri) could make his debut against the third-worst defence in the second tier, one that has conceded 45 goals in 28 matches. His poaching qualities could provide another building block in Sarri’s system.

• Caretaker Steve Agnew is in charge until incoming coach Steve Bruce, in Barbados this week watching cricket, formally replaces sacked Netherlander Jos Lukahay next week. A former midfielder, Agnew has used a 4-1-4-1 formation that presses from the front with the aim of winning the ball higher up the field, closer to goal. He has said he will pick a strong side and ‘go for it’ against the cup holders on Sunday.

• Wednesday have various options to lead their line. Atdhe Nuhiu has scored four goals in his last seven appearances in this competition. Steven Fletcher, hard-working and dangerous in the air, was on target on his last visit to the Bridge with Sunderland in 2015. Fernando Forestieri – like Higuain an Argentinean – has recovered from injury.

• While on-loan central defender/midfielder Michael Hector is ineligible to play, versatile former Blue Sam Hutchinson, now 29 and back in favour following Lukuhay’s departure, will hope to tread the turf on which he once set up Frank Lampard for a goal in the 7-0 league victory over Stoke. Midfield schemer Barry Bannan has different memories of the Blues’ stadium – he was part of the Villa side thrashed 8-0 in December 2012.

Assistant coach Gianfranco Zola’s pre-match quotes

'I nearly broke my head in the Championship but I love it! You find teams where it doesn’t matter if they are first or 16th in the table, you will always have a game when you play them.

'I am expecting a strong game with a lot of intensity from them. They have quality players. We will have to perform well. It won’t be easy. We only have one day to prepare, and it will be an interesting one.'

Sheffield Wednesday caretaiker Steve Agnew's pre-match quotes
'Chelsea have many talented players and they will probably make changes because their squad is so strong.

'But it’s the challenge of playing against the best players in the world for our players and I just feel they are ready to take the challenge on. Cup upsets happen every year. Of course you need that bounce of the ball and that little bit of luck on the day.'

 

Squad news

Chelsea
Doubt
Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Suspended
None


Sheffield Wednesday
Injured
Gary Hooper
Kieran Lee
Josh Onomah
Matt Penney

Doubt
None

Suspended
None

Ineligible
Michael Hector
 

Matchday weather outlook

Cold and cloudy.

 

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