Chelsea spent heavily during the January window, but the form they have shown since the closing of the transfer period has not been up to the mark. That Fernando Torres has failed to create any real impact at the club is one thing, but putting Didier Drogba on the bench during the last game was a gamble from manager Carlo Ancelotti.
He risked upsetting the Ivorian, who has been the lynchpin of the west London club’s strike force for many seasons. But with the Spaniard cup-tied, the 32-year-old should return to the starting line-up and he will want to prove to the boss that he still possesses every bit of the striker’s sting as he did in seasons past.
Ancelotti’s charges have also failed to score in their last two games, and are now running the risk of falling into yet another slump. And that could not only endanger their ambitions for silverware, but may also have a bearing on their league campaign. Patchy form may prove to be their downfall as it could even prevent them from competing in the Champions League next season.
However, that potential situation is still a good many games away and this is the cup. The home side set up this clash after a goal from Salomon Kalou cancelled out Louis Saha’s effort, but one thing the team can bank on is home support – which may push them forward in the competition.
Toffees Have Hit Rough Weather
Everton have had a good deal of difficulty trying to get the right result in recent weeks, as they have only one win their last five games in all competitions.
The Toffees’ are currently placed 13th in the league, but that is misleading since they are only three points above the relegation zone. This puts manager David Moyes in a precarious position, as he has a league campaign to resurrect while hoping for a decent run in the cup.
To compound problems, striker Louis Saha – who has an excellent record against Chelsea – is sidelined and is expected to be unavailable for this game. This could see Moyes play Tim Cahill as the lone man up front, as he has done on some occasions this season. But this could only serve to put the club's strikers even lower in terms of confidence, so Jermaine Beckford could come in on this occasion.
The visitors have also had to endure a fair amount of travel sickness in recent weeks, as victories on the road have been difficult to come by. And with the odds for Moyes’ exit shortening swiftly, even sceptics would be able to understand how the Merseysiders have fallen in recent times.
But the travelling team are batting a side that is fighting for form, and could capitalise on the situation and yet salvage something from a season that has not gone according to plan.
British transfer record signing Fernando Torres is cup-tied and will play no part in this fixture, which should see fellow forward Didier Drogba take to the pitch to prove to the boss that he is still one of the best strikers in England.
Jose Bosingwa was a doubt for the goalless draw with Fulham on Monday, but could make an appearance at some point if he has regained sufficient fitness.
Possible starting XI: Cech; Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard; Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.
Louis Saha (hamstring) is sidelined for this encounter, which should come as a blessing of sorts for Chelsea. He has an excellent goal scoring record against Chelsea, having netted seven goals in 13 Premier League appearances against the west London outfit. To add to this, Saha also found the back of the net in the last two FA Cup meetings between the two sides.
Jack Rodwell (groin) is also out of action and is expected to miss the remainder of the month through injury.
Possible starting XI: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov; Cahill; Beckford.