The League Cup Returns
25th October 2006
We`ve had the excitement of the UEFA Cup but now it`s the turn of the League Cup.
Chelsea travels to Ewood Park to contest this third round tie only a couple of months after leaving this small part of Lancashire with three Premier League points.
Rovers were off colour that day as Hughes was still trying to get his team to gel. Chelsea provided one of their typically gritty displays and, with a slice of luck or two, won the fixture.
This will be a different kettle of fish all together. Chelsea are likely to make changes to rest some key players. The most notable substitute will be Andriy Shevchenko. He will be rewarded for ending his goal drought at the weekend by becoming the most expensive British purchase to sit on a substitute`s bench.
Mark Hughes is also likely to rotate his side, although this has been caused by knocks to three or four senior players. It will be Mark Hughes` 100th game in charge of Rovers and he will be looking for a repeat performance of his first game against Portsmouth.
Rovers take this competition very seriously and have a good record in it since 2002. Chelsea will be looking to end a 97-year wait to defeat Rovers at Ewood in a knock out competition.
With a number of players from each side earning a rare run-out, it should make for an energetic and exciting cup tie.
Gamst on more games: "We have a good squad here, a bigger squad this year so if you feel tired there is always available to come in. Sometimes it is important to take a rest, but overall the more games the better for me."
Gamst on Chelsea and form: "Chelsea don`t have a first team and a reserve team, they have two first teams. You it is going to be hard against Chelsea, but we have a chance. We`ve been playing really well, we were eight games unbeaten before the Bolton game, and hopefully we can get a new run of unbeaten games."
Hughes on the competition: "It is a route into Europe and you don`t pass up those routes easily. You have to place significance on the competition and I`ve always done that since I`ve been here. We will have had four extra games at this stage than we did last year, so although that is at the back of my mind I still want to progress in this competition."
Jose Mourinho on his squad: "If you forget the goalkeepers we are in a very good condition, The pre-season was a problem. The good thing is that the team sticks together in difficult moments and the results help to create in us that spirit. At this time we have quite a lot of consecutive matches in different competitions without defeat, and the team improves step by step."
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers have doubts over three main players. David Bentley (hamstring), Andre Ooijer (ribs) and Robbie Savage (knee) are all struggling to be fit and with a busy month ahead Hughes is unlikely to risk them. All three have picked up knocks over the last couple of games.
This will give a chance to some fringe players such as Paul Gallagher, Aaron Mokoena and maybe even a return for Andy Todd
Rovers from: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Tugay, Emerton, Bentley, Nonda, McCarthy, Pedersen, Mokoena, Jeffers, Gallagher, Ooijer, Brown, Gray, Peter, McEveley, Todd, Roberts.
Player to watch: Benni McCarthy
Up against his former coach again, only this time he will be looking to make an impact. He was denied by Petr Cech in the league match earlier in the season after some wonderful skill but was generally subdued during the game.
Additionally the penalty miss at the weekend against Bolton will have hit his confidence so he will want to re-pay the Rovers faithful by bouncing back immediately.
Chelsea Team News:
Bar the horrific head injuries to both goalkeepers, Jose Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.
He is likely to tinker a little but he too takes this competition seriously. Joe Cole is likely to start having made a couple of substitute appearances. Jon Obi Mikel has returned from suspension and could move straight back into the midfield.
Andriy Shevchenko will be on the bench so that could see a starting birth for Saloman Kalou.
Chelsea from: Hilario, Ferreira, Boulahrouz, Carvalho, Terry, Bridge, A Cole, Geremi, Mikel, Makelele, Essien, Lampard, Ballack, Diarra, J Cole, Wright-Phillips, Robben, Kalou, Drogba, Shevchenko, Ma-Kalambay.
Player to watch: Joe Cole
This could be his first start of the season and he will be hungry to impress. Everyone has seen what a talent he has become and he stood out during the World Cup as one of England`s top performers. Rovers will have to be wary of him.
Match Facts & Stats
This will be Mark Hughes 100th game in charge of Blackburn Rovers.
This is the seventh consecutive season Rovers have had their first League Cup game at Ewood, either in the 2nd round or the 3rd depending on European commitments.
Rovers have won the League Cup once in 2002, Chelsea have won it 3 times in 1965, 1998 and 2005.
Chelsea are nine games unbeaten in all competitions.
Chelsea have never beaten Rovers at Ewood Park in any knock-out competitions.
The only other League Cup meeting between the two sides took place in 1997. After a 1-1 draw Chelsea won 4-1 on penalties
The official for tonight`s game is Phil Dowd.
This will be a much more open game than the League tie and a few more goals will be scored. The game will be perfectly poised at full-time at 2-2 but Rovers will avenge their only League Cup defeat to Chelsea by scoring the winner in extra time. Both sides will have their eyes on other competitions but this could be the reason why it will be such an open game.
West Ham United at Upton Park on Saturday 28th October 2006; 15:00.