Premier League champions Chelsea host struggling Hull in the FA Cup fifth round keen to relieve the mounting pressure on boss Antonio Conte.
The Blues have slipped to fourth place in the league after an indifferent run of form, though Monday night’s 3-0 win over ?West Brom will have a lifted a little of the ?Stamford Bridge gloom.
Two goals from Eden Hazard and Victor Moses’ strike secured a comfortable win for last season’s title winners, with the Blues looking to reignite their charge towards automatic qualification for next campaign’s Champions League.
Visitors Hull arrive in west London looking to put their disappointing league form behind them, with Nigel Adkins’ side languishing just a place above the Championship relegation zone.
The Tigers have been in somewhat of a downward spiral since they were relegated from the ?Premier League last season, with former Russian national team manager Leonid Slutsky having already been dismissed as head coach this term.
They come into this fifth round tie having seen off Blackburn and ?Nottingham Forest in previous rounds, with the hosts having overcome ?Norwich and ?Newcastle so far.
?These two sides clashed in the FA Cup back in 1999, as a strong Chelsea side tore apart a lowly Hull at Boothferry Park.
Gianluca Vialli fielded a team full of international stars and was duly rewarded with a confident performance from his side. Gus Poyet gave the Blues the lead, before Chris Sutton doubled their lead on the half hour mark.
The home side reduced the arrears through David Brown, before Vialli’s side took charge after the break. Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo scored the Blues’ third, before Poyet scored twice more to earn himself the match ball.
Mike Edwards own goal sealed a comprehensive 6-1 win for Chelsea, who would go on to lift the trophy at the end of the season, beating Aston Villa 1-0 in the final thanks to a second half Di Matteo goal.
Eden Hazard vs Michael Dawson?
Antonio Conte is likely to field a strong lineup as he bids to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of England’s most prestigious cup competition.
Belgian superstar Eden Hazard ran rings around West Brom on Monday night, scoring twice in a highly impressive performance. His roaming role in Chelsea’s attack is likely to prove difficult to contain, with the Tigers’ defence struggling this season to operate as a cohesive unit.
Chelsea will field a strong side against the Tigers, but boss Antonio Conte has admitted he will make changes to give others a chance to impress.
New signing Emerson Palmieri is ready to make his first-team bow, with youngster Ethan Ampadu ?likely to be given the opportunity to prove his worth once more.
Alvaro Morata could return up front, after coming on a substitute against West Brom on Monday night.
Nigel Adkins has a selection headache ahead of him, with up to 11 first-team players ruled out through injury or ineligibility.
Michael Hector will have to sit it out against his parent club, whilst Seb Larsson is banned. The Tigers are also reeling from the terrible news of Ryan Mason’s retirement from a serious head injury suffered at Stamford Bridge last season.
Chelsea will be looking to send the home support away happy after a testing period at Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte is under immense pressure to deliver, with rumours claiming the Italian could be replaced at the end of the season.
They crashed out to ?Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final last month and will be keen to put that disappointment behind them as they look to book a date at Wembley later in the season.
Survival from relegation will be the most important thing on Nigel Adkins’ agenda, though the Tigers boss will hope his side can put in a decent showing.
Injuries have depleted the options available to Adkins, but fans will remain hopeful that their side can cause another FA Cup shock.
The Blues should have enough in the tank to do the job, with home advantage likely to prove key.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Hull City