Chelsea vs Hull City
Friday 16th February 2018 (KO 8pm)
Emirates FA Cup
Nigel Adkins says selecting a starting eleven to face Chelsea is a challenge he is enjoying ahead of Friday night’s Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie at Stamford Bridge.
With defenders Michael Hector, Ola Aina and Fikayo Tomori ineligible to face their parent club, and midfielder Seb Larsson serving the first of a two-game ban, Adkins will be forced to make a number of changes and he was giving very little away at his pre-match meeting with the press this week.
“The three Chelsea lads can’t play, nor can Seb Larsson, so that’s four players who have been regulars for us,” said Adkins.
“That gives other players an opportunity. I know what we’re going to do, but we’ll leave people to discover that when the teamsheet goes in 75 minutes before kick-off.
“It’s a challenging scenario, and like I’ve said we will need a little bit of cup magic to help us.”
Adkins will wait on the fitness of Michael Dawson as the club captain continues his recovery from a groin injury, while Kamil Grosicki is another who will hope to recover from injury in time.
Chelsea will be without Ross Barkley, David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko but striker Alvaro Morata is likely to be involved at some stage as he works his way back towards full fitness.
There’s no doubt that the Tigers head into Friday night’s Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Chelsea as huge underdogs, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Head Coach Nigel Adkins ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Adkins has seen his side navigate tricky ties against Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest to reach this stage, and now he can’t wait to take on the reigning Premier League Champions.
“It’s great – Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round of the FA Cup!” said Adkins.
“We need the magic of the FA Cup and we’ll need a lot of it because we’re going up against a top side with an excellent manager and players who are used to winning things. They’ll see this competition as an opportunity to go and win another trophy. We’re going there under no illusions about the challenge in front of us.
“You have to believe that an upset is possible, though – it’s the FA Cup. We’ll select a team with some counter-attacking ability and with any opportunities we do get in the game, we have to be ruthless and clinical.
“We’ll be up against it defensively because we’re going up against a very good side.
“As a kid, you always want to be involved in the FA Cup. We’re in the fifth round here – it’ll be a tough game for us but we want to make it as tough as possible for Chelsea, too.
“There’s a real togetherness about the players and they’re having a go for each other. It’s a game that we’re all looking forward to. Strange things happen in the FA Cup and you have to believe that something is going to happen for you.
“We have to go there and play without fear because, at the end of the day, Chelsea are expected to win the game. We’ll have to be inspired in defence, our goalkeeper will have to have a wonderful night and then it’s about whether we can be clinical when we get the opportunity.”
Jackson Irvine, meanwhile, is hoping to be part of another memorable cup upset when the Tigers face Chelsea in the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup on Friday night.
The Australian international was part of the Ross County side that shocked Scottish football when beating Celtic 3-1 at Hampden Park in the last four of the League Cup en route to lifting the trophy in the 2015/16 campaign and wants the Tigers to embrace their role as underdogs.
“I’ve been involved in upsets before, the big one being when I was at Ross County and we beat Celtic in the Scottish League Cup semi-final,” he said.
“There’s nothing better than doing it in the cup, so hopefully we can go down on Friday night, show plenty of belief and enjoy the occasion.
“These are the types of games that you’re involved in football for. Everyone wants to be involved in fixtures like this.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to play against a Club as big as Chelsea, who have a lot of talented players in their squad.
“Most importantly though, it’s an FA Cup tie that will hopefully provide us with the chance to cause an upset.
“Everyone would admit our main focus is on securing Championship safety, but at the same time a game is game and we want to win every game we’re involved in. We’re going to go out at Stamford Bridge and give it our all to try and get a result.
“We know we’re going there as underdogs, but everyone loves an underdog. Cup competitions can always be a bit unpredictable and, if we can stay in the game long enough, hopefully we can go on and nick it.
“There’s no pressure on the team, we just have to stick together and give it our all and if we do that, you never know what can happen.”
Ahead of tonight’s FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Hull City, Antonio Conte has been discussing the reasons why flourishing in cup competitions is different from achieving success in the league.
The Italian leads his side into tonight’s game against the Championship side, who will be without Chelsea loanees Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori and Michael Hector, just four days before our Champions League campaign resumes with a home game against Barcelona.
The Blues came extremely close to winning the Double last season but narrowly missed out after being beaten by Arsenal in the FA Cup final, and Conte spoke about the challenges teams face when trying to win a cup.
“I think that I reached many finals, last season with Chelsea as well, but as you know, in the cup competitions the team who deserves it doesn’t always win,’ he explained. ‘In the league the team who deserves it wins, the team who performs with consistency all season to be the best.
“In the cup there are different factors. You can face a team in a difficult moment and beat them, or the opposite can happen. To win a cup is different to winning the league. In the league you must have consistency. In the cup you make a mistake once and you lose.”
Alvaro Morata made his return from injury in Monday’s win against West Bromwich Albion, coming off the bench for the last half-hour and going close with a good effort from outside the penalty area which was well saved by Ben Foster.
Tonight’s game will provide the Spanish striker with another opportunity to build on his match fitness.
“Morata started training with us last week, from Saturday,” said the Blues boss. “Now he’s training with regularity. Tonight is another good step for him to prepare himself for the Barcelona game, then I have to make the best decision for the starting 11.
“All of the players in my squad are playing. There are none who are staying out and not playing for a long period. For me, it’s a necessity to make the rotations, I’m not worried because I count on all of them, every player in my squad.”
Hull City’s Last Five Results
W2-0 vs Nott’m Forest (a)
L1-2 vs Preston North End (a)
D0-0 vs Leeds Utd (h)
W2-1 vs Nott’m Forest (h)
L0-1 vs Sunderland (a)
Chelsea’s Last Five Results
W3-0 vs West Brom (h)
L1-4 vs Watford (a)
L0-3 vs Bournemouth (h)
W3-0 vs Newcastle Utd (h)
L1-2 vs Arsenal (a)
This will be the first FA Cup meeting between these two sides since a third-round match in December 1999, which Chelsea won 6-1 away from home – their joint-biggest away win in the competition and the only time they’ve scored six on the road in the competition.
The Tigers have won three of their last 19 FA Cup ties against top-flight opponents. However, they won their most recent encounter with a Premier League club, beating Swansea City 2-0 in January 2017.
Chelsea have progressed from nine of their last 10 fifth round FA Cup ties, with their only loss coming against Manchester City in 2014.
The Tigers have kept four clean sheets in their last seven matches under Nigel Adkins,
Andre Marriner will take charge of the Fifth Round tie at Stamford Bridge.
The 47-year-old has taken charge of 24 games in total so far this season, which has seen him produce 67 yellow cards and three dismissals to-date.
This evening’s encounter with the Blues will see Marriner oversee a Tigers’ fixture for the 23rd time as a referee – the last of which was our 7-1 home defeat to Spurs on the final day of the previous campaign.
Assisting Marriner at the weekend will be Adam Nunn and Ian Hussin, with Mike Jones on fourth official duties.
This will be the 47th competitive meeting between these two sides. The Tigers have won four of those games, drawing ten and losing the other 32. In away games against the Blues, the Tigers are yet to win, drawing five games and losing 17.
LAST TIME OUT
Chelsea 2 Hull City 0
Stamford Bridge | Premier League | Saturday 16th September 2017
Diego Costa scored on his return to the Chelsea team as they beat the Tigers to move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The Spain striker missed his side’s previous game – a 3-0 win over champions Leicester – citing a back injury after a disagreement with a fitness coach, amid reports of Chinese Super League interest.
But the Blues’ top scorer – cheered throughout the game by home fans – got the opening goal when he converted Victor Moses’ low cross from eight yards out in the seventh minute of first-half injury time.
The Tigers played well but lacked a cutting edge in the final third and Gary Cahill sealed the win when he headed home Cesc Fabregas’ free-kick.
Chelsea have confirmed that tickets for the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie at Stamford Bridge will NOT be available for away supporters to buy on the night. Travelling fans must purchase in advance, with tickets now only available from Tiger Leisure at the KCOM Stadium until 11am on the day of the game.
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