Assistant first-team coach Steve Holland says that Chelsea have no problems with their hectic schedule as they get set to take on Sunderland in the Capital One Cup quarterfinals at the Stadium of Light. The match comes in the middle of a packed fixture list that sees Chelsea facing 10 matches in a month. But Holland does not see the demands as anything new for a club used to being involved into the latter stages of all competitions.
“We are very much drilled at Chelsea on playing a match every three days, that seems to be the way it always is,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. “Obviously we do have a busy schedule over Christmas but it is nothing too out of the ordinary, so it really has been very much a case of business as normal this week.”
A fixture of Chelsea’s season thus far has been repeated changes in the team’s lineup. That is likely to continue on Tuesday. Holland, though, believes the strength of the Stamford Bridge squad lends itself to frequent alterations to the side.
“We get asked do you know what your best team is and we obviously have an idea of that, but it very much depends on the moment and how we perceive the best team now to what we thought a month ago, or what we thought two months before that,” he explained.
“It is constantly changing and we have a lot of players where there is very little between them and it is very much down to form at the time. When we rest two of the wingers and bring two new ones in, we are in a very fortunate situation where you can really argue is the team stronger or weaker. So it does allow us to introduce some freshness into the team which is important given the games program.”
It is just two weeks since Chelsea’s last visit to the Stadium of Light, when Jose Mourinho’s side edged a 4-3 thriller. The match proved to be the start of a run of poor defensive performances, which continued against Crystal Palace on Saturday, despite winning 2-1.
Their opponents come into the match on the back of far less encouraging recent results, however. After an encouraging start to Gustavo Poyet’s reign, Sunderland have now taken just two points from their last five matches and are rooted to the foot of the Premier League table. Rather than a distraction from their main objective of avoiding relegation, Poyet believes that a win against his former club in the League Cup could provide a welcome boost.
“It’s a different challenge for us -- the cup games are totally different,” he told Sunderland’s official website. “I think it’s [given a boost] in the past -- we won against Southampton and then went on to beat Manchester City. Maybe it could be something similar.
“At the end of the day I like to go with the next game as the most important one. Right now, that is Chelsea. We’re in a cup competition and one step from the semi-finals.”
Sunderland fielded a strong side in their victory over Southampton in the last round and are likely to do similar. Keiren Westwood, Phil Bardsley, Carlos Cuellar and Jack Colback are ruled out through injury.
Gary Cahill is back in training for Chelsea, while Ashley Cole is likely to come in for Cesar Azpilicueta.
Where to watch: The Capital One Cup quarterfinal will be provided by 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.