Just as in the previous round, a second-tier side with aspirations of Premier League football await Chelsea in the FA Cup; and just like last weekend, it is an early evening start in the North-East that club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look forward to...
It is Burns’ Night on Saturday, and as eight-time FA Cup winners Chelsea take on Championship Hull in round four of the historic competition, it is worth heeding the Scottish bard’s wise words: ‘There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.’
That said, the Blues are unbeaten in this tournament against the Tigers, and after our past two meetings in the FA Cup, the Londoners went on to lift the trophy.
City head coach Grant McCann hopes his players put on a show for the first sell-out crowd at the KCOM stadium for three years. But the former midfielder – a contemporary of Frank Lampard in the West Ham Academy – is more preoccupied with the Championship play-offs. He admitted this week that the Tigers’ next two home games, against Huddersfield on Tuesday and Brentford on Saturday, are ‘the big ones’.
Chelsea have a clear week ahead of next weekend’s clash at the King Power, but will want to avoid a draw this weekend. The date pencilled in for a potential replay is Wednesday 5 February – three days into Chelsea’s Premier League winter break.
The game against Burnley a fortnight ago delivered a pleasant reminder that 3pm might be the perfect time slot in the match-going supporter’s day, but Chelsea fans have now faced 5.30pm start times on successive weekends in the North-East, with tortuous routes home.
Chelsea are aiming to reach round five of the FA Cup for the 23rd time in 26 seasons.
— Key Stat
This is actually Hull’s second meeting with Chelsea in four FA Cup matches. They bowed out at Millwall in round three last season after the 2017/18 encounter at the Bridge ended 4-0. Willian was on target twice in that game, Olivier Giroud netted his first Chelsea goal, and Emerson made his debut.
A hat-trick from Gus Poyet helped the Blues to a 6-1 success the last time we met on the banks of the Humber in this competition, at Boothferry Park in December 1999. The aggregate score in the clubs’ past four FA Cup matches is 14-1 in our favour.
How they reached round four
Hull Round three Rotherham a W 3-2
Chelsea Round three Nottingham Forest W 2-0
For those teams making it through round four, the draw for round five of the FA Cup will take place during BBC’s The One Show from 7.20pm on Monday.
The McCann method
Grant McCann was in charge of League One Peterborough in 2017 when Chelsea won a round three tie 4-1 in January 2017, despite a dismissal for John Terry.
McCann and his assistant were present at the Bridge on Tuesday, but it would be difficult for them to take anything away from that as the Blues are likely to field a much-changed side. However, McCann did confess, ‘The first 20 minutes, they scared the life out of me.’
The former midfielder was full of praise for the job Frank Lampard is doing and has said he will make changes to his regular line-up as it is ‘no secret’ the league is the Tigers’ priority. Injury has already forced two changes to his first-choice back four.
The loss of Matthew Pennington and Jordy de Wijs may make it harder for his defence to deploy their usual offside trap, and it will be a measure of the team’s strength if their starting 11 contains wide forwards (and leading marksmen) Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki. No Championship side has created as many chances from counter-attacks as Hull, who shoot often and are strong on direct free-kicks.
As Hull are a Championship club, there will be no Video Assistant Referee reviews on Saturday.
Does FA Cup history beckon for Frank?
Frank Lampard is also likely to rest some of his usual starters as he bids to become only the 17th person in FA Cup history to win the trophy separately as a player and a coach, and the third to do so for Chelsea. His assistant, Jody Morris, also played in the 2000 Cup final win against Aston Villa.
Only five men have done so for the same club, and four of them have a Stamford Bridge connection. George Graham and Terry Venables were team-mates under Tommy Docherty in the mid-Sixties, and the latter beat the Blues in the 1967 final with his new side, Spurs.
Thirty years on from that, Roberto Di Matteo memorably scored in the first minute, while Gianluca Vialli was a last-minute substitute in our 2-0 Wembley victory over Middlesbrough. Three seasons later Vialli masterminded the Blues’ third FA Cup success, secured with a win over Aston Villa in which Di Matteo netted the only goal. Fast-forward 12 years and it was the younger of the two Italians who oversaw our victory against Liverpool prior to Champions League glory.
|First as player||First as coach|
|Roberto Di Matteo||Chelsea||1996/97||2011/12|
Incidentally, our captain in both the 1997 and 2000 FA Cup finals was Dennis Wise. Last night, his son Henry, who is now 20, came on in extra-time for Watford in their FA Cup replay, which they lost 2-1 defeat to League One side Tranmere.
Next Saturday’s Premier League hosts Leicester travel to high-flying Championship side Brentford this weekend. They may be without Jamie Vardy, who hobbled off in midweek.
Chelsea Women’s Conti Cup semi-final trip to Manchester United has been confirmed as a 7.30pm start at Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday (29 January). The pair meet again in the WSL 10 days later.
Chelsea’s Under-18s will hope to fare better than the senior team last weekend when they take on Newcastle at their Academy ground in an U18 Premier League Cup quarter-final on Saturday morning.
Ins and outs over soon
All the transfer speculation and hyperboles come to a close next Friday (at least, that’s the idea) as the transfer window shuts. The last, late deal sheets of the January window have to be lodged with the Premier League before 11pm UK time, and all details cleared on FIFA’s Transfer Matching System by midnight. As is often the case in the winter exchanges, the majority of deals have been for players leaving a club on loan.
Cup camaraderie in the trenches
As we approach another FA Cup game, with the film 1917 in cinemas and Bayern just a few weeks away, it is worth recalling football’s ability to unite people even in the worst of circumstances, and however briefly.
In his memoir of World War One, London Irish rifleman Patrick MacGill related a typical moment of banter across no-man’s-land shortly after the 1915 FA Cup final, which Chelsea lost to Sheffield United.
During a pause in shooting a German soldier enquired in perfect English across the few hundred yards between the two entrenchments: ‘What about the Cup final?’
The London Irish regiment was filled with staunch Chelsea supporters and one named Bill replied: ‘Chelsea lost.’
‘‘Hard luck!’ came the answer from the German trench and firing was resumed,’ MacGill wrote. ‘But Bill used his rifle no more until we changed into a new locality.
‘‘A b— supporter of b— Chelsea,’ he said. ‘He must be a damned good sort of sausage-eater, that feller. If ever I meet ’im in Lunnon [London] after the war, I’m goin’ to make ’im as drunk as a public-’ouse fly.’
FA Cup fourth round fixtures featuring Premier League sides
Brentford v Leicester 12.45pm (BBC One)
Burnley v Norwich 3pm
Millwall v Sheffield United 3pm
Newcastle v Oxford 3pm
Southampton v Tottenham 3pm
West Ham v West Brom 3pm
Hull v Chelsea 5.30pm (BT Sport)
Manchester City v Fulham 1pm (BBC One)
Tranmere v Manchester United 3pm (BT Sport)
Shrewsbury v Liverpool 5pm (BBC One)
Bournemouth v Arsenal 8pm (BT Sport)
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