Who: Wolverhampton Wanderers at Chelsea FC
What: Capital One League Cup (Round 3)
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel Forecast
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -400, Wolves +875, Draw +500
Total: Over 2½ -250, Under 2½ +160
After missing out on a chance to win a little silverware twice recently in losses to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield and to Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea will try to move on in the Capital One League Cup in Round 3 when it hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.
Wolves (4-12, 11-7 goals), who were relegated from the English Premier League last season after finishing 20th in the table, are currently in fifth place in the Championship and have won three straight matches, outscoring foes 6-1 in the process.
The Wolves won the League Cup—also known as the Football League Cup and formerly the Carling Cup—back in 1974, and manager Ståle Solbakken has a pretty talented cast with which to work this season.
The team’s talented midfield includes Karl Henry, Tongo Doumbia and Sako (two goals), and at striker, Wolverhampton looks to big threat Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (club-leading four goals), Iceland national Björn Sigurðarson and Kevin Doyle (club-leading three assists) for much of its scoring power.
The European champion Blues (4-1-0, 9-2 goals) still sit atop the EPL standings and restored a little much-needed confidence after a three-match winless streak with their 1-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at Stamford Bridge on a late Ashley Cole goal.
Chelsea, which has won the League Cup four times—tied for third all-time—continues to feature a different starting XI almost every game, as manager Roberto Di Matteo continues to tinker with the new toys that billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich went out and got him over the summer transfer window.
Three of those new toys—Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses—all played against the Potters over the weekend and look to be part of a solid nucleus the club has been building around for the future as its metamorphosis from a bigger, power team to a smaller, tiki-taka, Barcelona-style side evolves.
Two Blues players whose status needs to be watched for Tuesday are striker Daniel Sturridge, who continues to nurse a hamstring injury, and defender John Terry, who has a hearing for his racial abuse trial being held on Monday.
It will be hard to tell if Di Matteo decides to give players like Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu and newbie César Azpilicueta any playing time or even a start against Wolves, but with a huge date with Arsenal at the Emirates looming on Saturday (ESPN2, 7:30 a.m./4:30 p.m. PT), who knows how the Italian skipper will decide to approach this game?
One thing’s for sure: Chelsea will definitely expect to win this contest and move on, but if Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton, Wigan Athletic and QPR can all hang with the Blues, then surely Wolverhampton should not and cannot be overlooked.
Last season in EPL play, Chelsea swept the Wolves, winning 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-1 at Molineux Stadium, and with a 12-2-1 home record under RDM and just nine losses in its last 162 games in west London, the onus is definitely on Wolverhampton to find a way to beat the Blues in this one and not the other way around.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Wolves 1
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