Both managers have confirmed that as expected, they will make changes to their starting line-ups for the second meeting between Chelsea and Manchester United in four days.
A degree of rotation is forced upon Roberto Di Matteo with two new players joining John Terry on the suspended list, but having handed out three debuts during the previous round against Wolves, and made seven changes overall for the 6-0 win over the Championship side, a shuffling of the pack was already the plan for Wednesday night’s game.
‘It is certainly a tricky situation,’ says Di Matteo on the preparation for the game against Man United, ‘because we have Branislav Ivanovic, Fernando Torres and John Terry suspended, and Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole out injured.
‘Ashley’s ankle is sore and swollen and he won’t recover in time for tomorrow.
‘So it reduces the squad but everybody else is okay. It is also our fourth game in 10 days and they have all been big games so we are looking to freshen the team up a little bit for sure, and also put a couple of youngsters in.
‘We always talk about developing and giving youngsters a chance so this type of game is a good opportunity for some of them.’
Lucas Piazon, the 18-year-old Brazilian who was one of the players featuring for the first time when we beat Wolves, has recovered from a recent hamstring strain and is available. With Ivanovic and Torres suspended, Cesar Azpilicueta and Daniel Sturridge appear first in line to take over the right-back and centre-forward roles tomorrow.
‘They are very good players and they are young but they have a little bit of experience as well, and it will be great to see them perform. They have been waiting for an opportunity and going forward I think we will see more of them.
‘Our fixture list is pretty packed with seven games in November and nine or ten games in December and it is very demanding.’
As well as the reduction in numbers in his squad, the match is one of the more difficult to prepare for this season due to the uncertainty over Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection.
The Man United boss has reported he will make changes to Sunday’s side and will take the same squad to Stamford Bridge as for their third-round home win over Newcastle. On that night the front three contained Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney and the midfield was Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Anderson. With David De Gea in goal, it was only their defence that was inexperienced.
‘I am not sure if Man United are going to go with a similar team to the one they had against Newcastle or they are going to mix up it,’ admits Di Matteo.
‘It is a bit of an unknown and we will have to wait for the teamsheet, but I am not expecting just a young team, I am expecting a strong team.’
Stamford Bridge sold out for the game some time ago, emphasising once again the Chelsea fans’ appetite for knockout cup football. There will be no lack of atmosphere as the top two in the Barclays Premier League aim to reach the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
‘When you play Man United it is always a big game in whichever competition you play in,’ says Di Matteo.
‘I hope the supporters get behind the team, the young players especially, and push us on to a win. Any trophy you add to your cabinet is a plus and this is one you have to try your best to go and get. That is the objective.’
Since Sunday’s first meeting between the sides, Di Matteo was named in a 10-man shortlist for FIFA’s World Coach of the Year award. Former Chelsea man Didier Drogba was nominated in the FIFA Ballon d’Or players’ category but was the only one of our European Cup winning-team to make the 23-name list.
‘That is a bit disappointing because as the winners of the Champions League you would have expected it to recognise the performances of our players,’ states Di Matteo.
‘It is a hard one to explain, I’m not sure if they look a lot at the international games as well.’
On his own nomination he says: ‘It is a privilege to be the manager of Chelsea and to work with these world-class players, trying to achieve success. It is a great, challenging job.’
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