Chelsea are currently in the form of their lives as they welcome Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge for a third round tie in the League Cup.
Since tasting defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield, Carlo Ancelotti's charges have gone from strength to strength by scoring 25 goals in all competitions since. The emphatic nature of this statistic is showcased through the goals-per-game ratio, which puts the west London club at over four goals a match.
They have also begun well in their quest to claim the European crown, as their first game in the Champions League - away to MSK Zilina - saw them travel to Slovakia and obtain a 4-1 victory.
However, the Italian boss is expected to field a few of his fringe players for this encounter, keeping in mind the tough set of fixtures that lie ahead.
Ancelotti's men have a trip to Manchester City this weekend, with Olympique Marseille breathing down their necks in the Champions League. They then have a blockbuster fixture against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, before a visit to Aston Villa which will be followed by the long distance trip to Russia to take on Spartak Moscow.
So the League Cup tie is likely to be used by the manager as a way to give his non-regular players a run out.
Hughton set to make changes
Newcastle United have had a relatively decent start to the season, which began with a loss to Manchester United on the opening day. But that was followed by an emphatic 6-0 victory over Aston Villa. Their recent loss to Blackpool also proved to be a minor hiccup, as they outclassed and outplayed Everton in a recent 1-0 victory at Goodison Park.
The manager of the Tyneside club, Chris Hughton, has confirmed that he will use this encounter to give some of his fringe players a chance to put in a strong performance and challenge for a first-team spot.
Hughton said: "We will use the squad and there will be significant changes.
"I don’t mind the supporters who are travelling down knowing that. We have a lot of options and there will be changes to the team."
Jose Bosingwa is still out with a knee injury and is expected to return only about two to three weeks from now, while fellow defender John Terry sat out the game against Blackpool owing to a rib injury. Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti would be loath to risk his skipper in a game that is not as significant as the ones ahead, and should likely give the centre-half a rest - should he be fit in the first place.
In the meantime, midfielder Frank Lampard was recently reported as still recovering from a hernia operation, which makes him a doubt for this game. Even if fit, the former Milan boss may choose to ease him back into action by bringing him on during the latter stages of the game.
But all said and done, it is a League Cup tie and changes are to be expected.
Possible starting XI: Turnbull; Bruma, Alex, Ivanovic, Van Aanholt; Zhirkov, Ramires, Benayoun; Kakuta, Sturridge, Borini.
The shoulder injury to goalkeeper Steve Harper means that Tim Krul will start, while it could be argued that the Dutchman would have started anyway since this is a League Cup tie.
The Toon boss Chris Hughton has confirmed that he will ring in the changes, so a few fringe players can be expected to make the cut into the line-up.
Meanwhile, defender Sol Campbell has put in a few appearances for the reserves and has been pushing for a start, and could be given the look in for this game.
Possible Starting XI: Krul; Taylor, Tavernier, Campbell, Kadar; Donaldson, Vuckic, Ferguson, Lovenkrands; Ameobi, Ranger.
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