Just 48 hours after a heavyweight clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Chelsea will find themselves in very different surroundings when traveling to fourth-tier Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday. The more modest accommodations of the less than 10,000 capacity Greenhous Meadow stadium awaits Chelsea as they aim to claim a place in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup.
Chelsea will likely make the journey to the League Two promotion hopefuls still simmering with frustration at the events that unfolded in the dying moments at Old Trafford. Just seconds after Branislav Ivanovic was shown a controversial second yellow card, Robin van Persie fired past Thibaut Courtois to deny Chelsea all three points. The disappointment is still likely to be temporary, with Chelsea’s lead in the Premier League a healthy four points and a place in the last 16 of the Champions League looking well within their grasp.
They produced one of their poorer performances of a hugely impressive campaign to date in the last round of the League Cup when limping to a 2-1 win over Championship side Bolton Wanderers. José Mourinho fielded a much-changed lineup that day at Stamford Bridge and will surely do similar so soon after the high-octane encounter with Manchester United.
His options remain limited up front, however. Diego Costa is back in training after recovering from his latest hamstring problem as well as a virus that required hospital care, but there is little chance of him being risked at Shrewsbury. Loic Remy remains sidelined with a groin injury and, having played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford, the chances are slim, too, that Didier Drogba will be involved from the start. That may mean Andre Schürrle being deployed in a false-nine role. Elsewhere, Petr Čech, Kurt Zouma, Mohamed Salah, Nathan Aké and John Mikel Obi could also come into the side. Ivanovic now joins Cesar Azpilicueta on the suspended list.
Regardless of the team Chelsea send out, Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon is under no illusions about the scale of his side’s task.
“I think they have twenty-five world class footballers playing for them so regardless who they send they will be world class, have played for their country and probably moved for millions of pounds” he said, according to his club’s official website. “They are the squad who are leading the Premier League with the most decorated manager of current times standing in the opposite technical area.”
While it’s a daunting prospect, Shrewsbury should at least head into one of the biggest matches in the club’s history full of confidence. The team from Shropshire in the West Midlands have recorded four straight league wins to move up to fourth place in League Two after relegation from the third tier last season. They should also take plenty of belief from their run to the League Cup fourth round that has seen them already beat one Premier League side in Leicester City as well as Championship opposition in Blackpool and Norwich City. Shrewsbury captain and one-time Republic of Ireland international Liam Lawrence is expected to be fit to start after a recent injury.
Prediction: Chelsea will miss having a reliable goal-scoring presence up front but, even with a much-changed lineup are likely to still win comfortably. Mourinho has always been keen to do well in the League Cup and his side should put in a professional, if not a sparkling, display.
Shrewsbury 0-3 Chelsea
Kickoff time: 3.45 p.m. EDT
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