Chelsea revisited

Chelsea away in the League Cup. It’s hardly the dream tie.

Here we are back once to Stamford Bridge, for a match that neither team will particularly want. It’s hard to find something new to write about early rounds League Cup ties. You know neither side really wants to be playing but they have to go through the motions. Supporters aren’t all that bothered either, although at least it will give some a chance to get to their first away match of the season.

Just why some clubs aren’t that fussed is a topic that gets debated at some length twice a seaosn but as with almost everything in football it all comes down to fear. The fear that a first-teamer might get injured, that you might reduce your chances of getting a result at the weekend and that the points you drop then might cost you a couple of places at the end of the season or even worse, perish the thought, could mean you lose out on a top four place or lead to relegation. What’s winning a trophy compared to the glory of finishing tenth instead of twelfth? Premier League uber alles.

And so every precaution is taken to make sure that all possible risks are eliminated, and football becomes even more of a bland commercial enterprise and less a thing of beauty, of joy and emotion. No young kid ever began a lifelong attachment to a football club by reading their balance sheet.

I often look at teams who haven’t won a trophy for decades and have no chance of going down, and wonder why they don’t bother with the League Cup. It’s been a long time since we were in that no danger of relegation position, which is another reason to thank Dean Smith, so I may as well look at our team and wonder why we can’t have a decent stab at glory. It’s been twenty-five long, fruitless years since we won anything to boast about, and it’s not as though we’ll be allowed anything from this Saturday’s match.

Jed Steer’s bound to play, because it’s the law that you pick your reserve keeper in the League Cup. Emi Buendia could get a run-out, while Morgan Sansom and Betrand Traore might be fit enough to play. Leon Bailey could be in need of a run-out as well, in which case anything could happen. Up front it will be interesting to see whether the boss has got enough faith in Cameron Archer to sgive him a start against much better opposition than he’s faced so far.

As for a prediction, it depends on what sort of side Chelsea put out. If they rest more than half their first team, we’ve got a good chance. If they put out a strong team we’ll probably lose, but part of me will say fair play to them for doing what everyone else should.

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