Chelsea begin their defence of the FA Cup with a home fixture against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Maurizio Sarri’s men are doing well on three other fronts already, with progress in the Europa League secured, a Carabao Cup semi-final to look forward to and a healthy position in the Premier League.
Forest, however, will be no pushovers, with former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka at the helm and having enjoyed a spectacular FA Cup win over Arsenal last season.
|Game||Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest|
|Date||Satruday, January 5|
|Time||3pm GMT / 10am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed on ESPN+.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast live as it will be played during the blackout period.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Kepa, Caballero, Green, Bulka|
|Defenders||Rudiger, Alonso, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Emerson, Ampadu|
|Midfielders||Moses, Fabregas, Jorginho, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, McEachran|
|Forwards||Hazard, Pedro, Giroud, Morata, Willian, Hudson-Odoi|
Willian picked up a problem in the 0-0 draw with Southampton in midweek and misses out from what is a much-changed starting XI, with Pedro and Olivier Giroud also left out.
Question marks remain over the futures of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is also carrying a problem, and Cesc Fabregas. Maurizio Sarri’s line-up could offer an indication of just how close they are to leaving.
Chelsea Starting XI: Caballero; Zappacosta, David Luiz, Christensen, Emerson; Fabregas, Ampadu, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek; Morata, Hudson-Odoi.
Subs: Kepa, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Moses, Jorginho, Kante, Hazard.
|Position||Nottingham Forest squad|
|Goalkeepers||Pantilimon, Henderson, J. Smith, Stelle|
|Defenders||Figueiredo, Dawson, Hefele, Fox, Robinson, Fuentes, Byram, Janko, Darikwa|
|Midfielders||Yacob, Colback, Bridcutt, Guedioura, Watson, Cash, Osborn, Carvalho|
|Forwards||Goncalves, Ward, Soudani, Gil Dias, Lolley, Ariyibi, Appiah, Clough, Brereton, Grabban, Ansarifard, Murphy|
Lewis Grabban missed out on the midweek win over Leeds due to injury and is not risked in this clash.
Michael Dawson, Tobias Figueiredo and Michael Hefele are all missing from the Reds defence.
Juan Fuentes, Sam Byram, El Arbi Hillel Soudani and Karim Ansarifard are also sidelined.
Nottingham Forest Starting XI: Steele; Darikwa, Yacob, Fox, Janko; Guedioura, Colback, Cash, Carvalho, Osborn; Murphy.
Subs: Smith, Robinson, Yates, Lolley, Dias, Appiah, Ahmedhodzic.
Betting & Match Odds
Chelsea are favourites to win the match, with bet365 giving odds of 2/9 on a home win. The tie is 6/1 to go to a replay, while Forest can be backed at 14/1.
The opening weeks of 2019 promise to be pivotal in Chelsea’s season. Maurizio Sarri’s side are fighting battles of four fronts, although their top priority currently is securing a top-four place in the Premier League.
Over the course of the next 17 days, they face a succession of huge fixtures , including both legs of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham and another London derby against Arsenal, which promises to be pivotal in the scramble for a Champions League spot next term.
As such, their FA Cup fixture against Nottingham Forest is unlikely to be treated as top priority, particularly as the Blues are desperately seeking to strengthen their pool over the course of the transfer window.
Christian Pulisic has already been signed for £58 million ($74m) from Dortmund, where he has been sent back on loan for the rest of the season.
That deal was pushed through unbeknown to the coach , who has repeated that he wants reinforcements in attack, where Alvaro Morata continues to toil and Olivier Giroud has failed to entirely convince.
Wednesday's 0-0 home draw with Southampton brought that fact into sharper relief and the Italian will want to see an improvement in this fixture.
Saturday’s opponents Forest, meanwhile, have their own problems.
Manager Aitor Karanka has been under mounting pressure after a run of five matches without a victory, though that was eased somewhat in midweek as they defeated Championship leaders Leeds 4-2.
Still, getting back into the Premier League remains their priority, but they currently lie seventh, four points shy of the playoffs.
“There’s been talk that he’s lost the dressing room, that the players aren't playing for him,” ex-Forest defender Danny Higginbotham told Sky Sports during the midweek clash. “Well, if you look at this, it will tell you very differently. The players are well and truly behind him.
“The work-rate, their work ethic to get back into the game after going behind to a resurgent Leeds after taking the lead, tells you that the team spirit is all well and good between players and manager.”
That spirit will be put to the test at the weekend when they are expected to be outclassed by their hosts, though after dumping Arsenal out of the competition last season, they know that anything is possible.