Chelsea F.C.: How Should the Blues Line Up Against Swansea City?
Chelsea were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League earlier this season and failed to win the UEFA Super Cup, the FA Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup. They certainly won't want to lose the Capital One Cup as well.
Rafael Benitez will want to rest players for this game, but the Spaniard will also hope to take a commanding lead into the second leg.
Here's how Chelsea should start against Swansea City.
Goalkeeper: Ross Turnbull
With Petr Cech still out, Ross Turnbull will be Chelsea's goalkeeper against Swansea. The Englishman came on at halftime against Everton on December 30th and has started Chelsea's two games since then.
Against Southampton, Turnbull's performance was nothing spectacular, but the 28-year-old made an outstanding save in the second half to deny Jay Rodriguez.
Cech will be out for at least three more matches so Turnbull will be very important for Chelsea in January.
Full-Backs: Branislav Ivanovic and Ryan Bertrand
It would be smart for Benitez to rest Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole on Wednesday. The two full-backs have played constantly for Chelsea in December and certainly need a game off.
Branislav Ivanovic has also been a frequent starter for Chelsea but was substituted after 52 minutes against Southampton, meaning that he will be fine for Wednesday's encounter. The Serbian hasn't played at right-back recently but is certainly capable of it.
There is no reason for Ashley Cole to play in this match, with Ryan Bertrand fit and in need of game time. The 23-year-old performed fairly well against QPR last week but will need to play better against Swansea City.
Center-Backs: Gary Cahill and David Luiz
With Branislav Ivanovic at right-back (in my opinion) and John Terry sidelined, Benitez would have little option but to pair David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the center of Chelsea's defense.
The two defenders have been great at the back for Chelsea this season, but the Brazilian has recently been moved up to defensive midfield. Luiz can be guilty of mistakes while in defense, and it was certainly a good decision to move the 25-year-old further up the pitch.
Nonetheless, David Luiz is certainly capable at center-back, and he should partner Cahill in defense on Wednesday.
Defensive Midfielders: Frank Lampard and Ramires
It once again looks like Frank Lampard will be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season. There has been lots of discussion about the midfielder's future over the past few years, but it now looks certain that he will move away from Stamford Bridge in 2013.
Lampard has been amazing since joining from West Ham in 2001, and Blues fans will be sad to see him leave. For the next five months, Chelsea supporters will want to see the 34-year-old play as much as possible.
Against Southampton, Ramires started in defensive midfield, while Lampard came on as a substitute in the second half.
The two should start side-by-side against Swansea City on Wednesday. Ramires was left out of Benitez's team a few times in early December but has played well recently, especially in the 8-0 win against Aston Villa.
Lampard has won two League Cups and will certainly want another one this season.
Center Midfielder: Oscar
Oscar scored five times in Chelsea's six Champions League matches but has just one league goal this season. The Brazilian has looked like a great buy since moving to Stamford Bridge over the summer but certainly needs to increase his goal tally.
Oscar has been put in many different positions over the season but looks at his best when playing alone in attacking midfield.
The 21-year-old didn't have a great game against QPR last week and was then left on the bench against Southampton. With Benitez's squad rotation policy, you would expect Oscar to start against Swansea.
Wingers: Victor Moses and Eden Hazard
Since the arrival of Benitez, Victor Moses has looked great for Chelsea. The Nigerian has made himself a starter on the right and has pushed Juan Mata into the center of the midfield. Moses wasn't picked too often by Roberto Di Matteo but has established himself as a regular since the Italian's departure.
Both Eden Hazard and Moses have been playing a lot recently, but the two should still line up on Wednesday. Mata needs more rest than any other Chelsea player, while I doubt that Benitez wants to start Marko Marin so soon after the German's lackluster performance against QPR.
Striker: Fernando Torres
Demba Ba had a great game against Southampton, but Fernando Torres should start against Swansea.
The Spaniard was criticized after his slow performance against QPR, but Chelsea fans should remember all the good he has done since Benitez's arrival.
In Torres' 13 appearances since the sacking of Di Matteo, the 28-year-old has scored eight goals. That's not an amazing record, but it is certainly an improvement over his previous form.
Ba had a great game on Saturday but shouldn't start on Wednesday as Chelsea have to play both Stoke and Southampton next week. The Senegal international needs to be rested in midweek so that he can be fully fit for the team's upcoming EPL matches.
Torres has a lot to prove after Ba's weekend performance, and the Spaniard will need to be on the scoresheet against Swansea.