Thursday, August 13, 2020

Prediction: Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: William Hill

On Sunday afternoon, Chelsea will open the doors of their Stamford Bridge stadium and play host to Nottingham Forest in the third round of this season’s FA Cup. The two sides rarely meet these days, of course, with Forest currently competing in the Championship, England’s second tier. They have, however, met four times in this competition before, and the London Blues came out on top every time, including last season’s 2-0 triumph.

Chelsea

Chelsea have had their ups and downs in recent years, but ever since they were bought by Roman Abramovich they’ve always been able to stay among the top sides in the Premier League. They had a very successful Mourinho era first, and they followed that up with spells also successful under the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez, Mourinho again, Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri. Each of these managers has won major trophies with the club.

At the moment they’re in a reconstruction phase under the direction of club icon Frank Lampard. They aren’t doing particularly well, but having been unable to sign any players last summer while losing a player like Eden Hazard, it’s understandable and by no means bad. They sit in fourth place in the league at the moment, and finishing in one of the four Champions League spots is all they can realistically hope for. They have secured a place in the round of 16 of UEFA’s elite club competition where they are set to face Bayern Munich, but their chances of winning that particular moment aren’t great either. They’ve been eliminated from the Carabao Cup at the hands of Manchester United in October, so the FA Cup is probably the only trophy they stand a proper chance of winning this season; providing they take it seriously.

Team News

Given the hectic winter schedule in England, coupled with the fact that they are facing a second-tier opponent, Lampard is likely to apply some level of rotation for this game. As for injuries, midfielder Marco van Ginkel has been out of action for over a year now. Lampard says he’s getting closer to being ready, but he’s not quite there yet. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also out, while striker Olivier Giroud and defender Marcos Alonso face late fitness tests. Defender Fikayo Tomori has recovered from illness, but we’ll see if the manager lets him play or gives him a few more days to build up his strength.

Nottingham Forest

Forest are doing very well in the Championship at the moment. At the moment, they are on course for a spot in the promotion play-offs, sitting in fourth place, but there is, of course, a lot of games to be played yet and things are currently so tight near the top that anything is possible –  Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion have pulled away nine points above Brentford and Forest, but there’s only a six-point gap between Brentford in third and Cardiff City in 12th.

Like Chelsea, Forest have been eliminated from the Carabao Cup – Arsenal beat them 5-0 in September, and that is perhaps where they should be looking to asses what they did wrong, as well as to find motivation to try and redeem themselves with a decent effort against another one of the ‘top six’ sides in the Premier League. For them to win the trophy would certainly be a huge surprise, but that shouldn’t deter them from having a go at Chelsea over 90 minutes and see what happens.

Team News

Manager Sabri Lamouchi could have Yuri Ribeiro back, with the left-back reportedly over a long-term knee problem.

However, Chema, another full-back, is a major doubt after limping off in the 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Day.

Conclusion

With all due respect to Forest, Chelsea should win this contest by a wide margin, even with a reasonable level of rotation from Lampard. The odds on that one are understandably very short, and if you’re looking to get a bigger return on any potential investment – naturally, with a bigger degree of risk too, you could opt to go for a large number of goals being scored.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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