Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea travel to Sunderland for their Capital One Cup quarter final clash on Tuesday. The Blues will be hoping for a more straightforward match than the 4-3 victory in the Premier League 12 days ago, as they continue their fight for all four trophies.
In his press conference before the match against Crystal Palace, Mourinho told the gathered media that Ashley Cole would return to the starting XI at the Stadium of Light as he continues to rotate his squad.
Gary Cahill was suffering some pain in his quadriceps which saw him miss Saturday’s derby win, and it is unclear whether he will be risked for the trip to the north-east.
If Cahill is not 100 percent fit, John Terry and David Luiz will make up the centre-half pairing, while Cesar Azpilicueta could revert to his natural position at right-back to give Branislav Ivanovic a much-needed rest.
Ramires’ goal against Crystal Palace will likely see him retain his place in the pivot. John Obi Mikel’s strength and defensive ability should see him start ahead of Frank Lampard. Sunderland are a very physical side, and Mourinho will know that he needs to shield his defence if he wants to advance to the two-legged semifinal stage.
Eden Hazard has finally hit his form in recent weeks and was voted as man of the match again this weekend. However, he will most likely be rested for this match, with Willian starting on the left of the attack.
Oscar’s rest seems to have set him back a bit in terms of his sharpness, and he should start to ensure he is at his best for the busy Christmas fixture list.
With Samuel Eto’o lacking match fitness, Mourinho will have to choose between Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Torres’ goal against Palace may have been a simple tap-in, but finding the net again will have given his confidence a much-needed boost. However, Ba’s physical presence should see him start ahead of the Spaniard on Tuesday.
The Capital One Cup may not be the most prestigious competition in English football, but it holds special memories for Mourinho. This was the first trophy he won in his first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, and there is no doubt that he will want this team to help him repeat that feat this time around.