Tonight Chelsea will face off against crosstown rivals Fulham in the first game of the Carling Cup for both sides. Fulham will make the short trip to Stamford Bridge after a good weekend, when they upset Manchester City by crawling back from 2-0 down for a well-deserved draw. Chelsea on the other hand are looking to get back on their winning ways after the tough contest against United on Sunday
The Carling Cup is often the least important competition on the schedule. Sure to have another piece of silverware in the cabinet is nice, but not at the risk of losing players to injuries and fatigue for the more prestigious (and lucrative) titles. For that reason the early rounds of the Carling Cup have been a place for youngsters to find their feet in their first big game.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has already stated his intention of using many of his young summer signings.
"The Carling Cup is an opportunity for us to put our best young talents across and give them experiences in these kinds of situations,'' said Villas-Boas. "For us, it is not a new approach to the competition, because we did it last year. It gives us a very good idea of where we stand regarding the young players that we are trying to bring through.''
With that said, Fulham has never been a gimme win. The youngsters will have to work hard tonight to not only prove their worth, but also get the expected win. Here is my prediction for the starting lineup.