Chelsea vs Sheffield : Chelsea look to continue defense of the Cup by getting past Championship oppositio After Saturday’s FA Cup magicking, less than half the teams taking part in next month’s fifth round will be from the Premier League. Of the 16 teams advancing, no more than 7 will be from the “Best League In The World™”, with at least 9 guaranteed to be from the lower divisions.
At least 4 will be from the Championship, but at this point, only 3 are guaranteed to be from the Premier League (Watford and the two Manchesters). If Chelsea are to join that group, we’ll have to beat Sheffield Wednesday for the first time in two decades.
Of course, we haven’t met one of the oldest clubs in all of football, and one of the founding members of the Premier League since the turn of the century, which was the last time they were a top flight team. They have shuffled between the second and third divisions in the 20 years since, recently settling in midtable after a failed promotion push in the last few years (they lost in the playoffs twice, first to Hull City, then to Huddersfield Town).
Harsher times have followed in the 18 months since, with two full-time managers, three caretaker managers (or management teams) taking a turn on the touchline, with a third full-time manager, Steve Bruce starting next week. Whether he gets to take charge of an FA Cup match this season will depend largely on whether the Owls can pull off the upset at Stamford Bridge.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 27, 2019, 18:00 GMT; 1pm EST; 11:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Andre Marriner — Eagle-eyes Andre is a familiar name from his 42 previous Chelsea matches though this will be just the second time we see him this season after the 1-1 against Liverpool (the one with the Daniel Sturridge wondergoal). Marriner has refereed Chelsea five times in the FA Cup thus far, including last year’s 4-0 win over Hull City in the fifth round, but he was also the referee for that infamous 4-2 loss to Bradford City in this same round, in this same venue, back in 2014-15.
Forecast: Wintry temperatures with a bit of rain and a light breeze
On TV: BBC One (UK); none (USA); Sony ESPN (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); ESPN India
Chelsea team news: New signing Gonzalo Higuaín is expected to make his debut, possibly from the start, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could return ahead of schedule from his back injury. Young Andreas Christensen will likely miss out due to a hamstring injury. Victor Moses has left on loan to Fenerbahce, but Álvaro Morata’s move to Atlético Madrid remains on hold.
Chelsea have failed to make it past this round of the FA Cup just twice in the last 21 seasons — once thanks to the aforementioned loss to Bradford City (2014-15) and once by losing to Everton in a penalty shootout (2010-11) during Ancelotti’s “bad moment”.
Sheffield Wednesday team news: After a terrible run of results in late fall and early winter, Wednesday have lost just once in their last eight games in all competitions — but without ever scoring more than just 1 goal — including winning four times by 1-0 scorelines. Considering that they had conceded the fourth-most goals in the Championship, that defensive turnaround is as unexpected as it has been undoubtedly most welcome.
One crucial part of that defense will not be able to play however, as Chelsea loanee Michael Hector is ineligible against his parent club — different rules than in the League Cup, where we allowed Frank Lampard’s Derby County to field both Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
Former Chelsea youngster and fan favorite Sam Hutchinson will be able to play, and he’s very much looking forward to his return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving in 2014. As Hutchinson says, all the pressure will be on Chelsea and Wednesday can just enjoy themselves and maybe shock the world.
The visitors, backed up by 6000 of their traveling fans, have a few familiar names in their squad, which has been built with the usual second division method of declining veterans and top flight castoffs (Steven Flether, Barry Bannan) and career lower division players (Atdhe Nuhiu, Tom Lees, Fernando Forestieri!) combined with a few up-and-coming youngsters, although Wednesday seem to lack a bit in that latter department.
Top scorer Lucas João (8 goals in 21 appearances) has recently returned to full fitness, and Forestieri is expected to be available as well. Spurs loanee Josh Onomah and young Matt Penney are set to miss out.
Previously: Nearly five decades ago (1973?), in the 5th round of the FA Cup, “Chelsea were determined to grind the upstart second division team into the dust”!