Chelsea faces mismatch in last 16 of League Cup
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Two days after playing at Old Trafford, Chelsea will experience the other side of English football when the Premier League leaders visit fourth-tier club Shrewsbury for the biggest mismatch of the last 16 of the League Cup.
The 9,875-capacity Greenhous Meadow Stadium will have a slightly different atmosphere to Manchester United’s “Theatre of Dreams” for the superstars of Chelsea, who will be looking to avoid one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history.
Shrewsbury, which is 72nd in the English football pyramid, has already eliminated Premier League opposition in Leicester and is looking to repeat the exploits of Bradford, which beat three top-flight teams to reach the final in 2013 while playing in the fourth tier. Chelsea, which is unbeaten in all competitions this season, will be a different proposition entirely.
“It’s all about a fantastic evening on Tuesday night, an evening in isolation where we can go and absolutely enjoy it,” Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon said.
In other last 16 matches, Manchester City hosts Newcastle and Liverpool is at home to Swansea.
Here are some things to know about this week’s games in England’s second-tier knockout competition:
Didier Drogba rolled back the years by scoring a towering header for Chelsea in the 1-1 draw at United on Sunday, his first league goal in his second spell at the club.
The 36-year-old Drogba played the whole game at Old Trafford and may be called upon again at Shrewsbury.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is unlikely to risk bringing back Diego Costa, who has had hamstring problems and also spent a night in the hospital last week with a stomach virus. The other striker in Chelsea’s squad, Loic Remy, was also not in the squad against United.
Drogba has only had one week of full training after injury problems.
Mourinho is likely to rotate his lineup given the quick turnaround, so expect starts for the likes of Andre Schuerrle, John Obi Mikel, Mohamed Salah and Petr Cech.
RODGERS SEEKS RESPITE
It’s been a tough week for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after a big home loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League and a 0-0 home draw against Hull in the Premier League.
His old club arrives at Anfield on Tuesday looking to increase the misery.
Rodgers spent two years in charge of Swansea from 2010-12, guiding the Welsh club into the Premier League in his first season and moving to Liverpool 12 months later.
Swansea beat Liverpool at this stage of the League Cup in Rodgers’ first season at Anfield. On that occasion, Rodgers played a string of fringe players.
With a Manchester derby looming next weekend, Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini has some selection dilemmas for the visit of Newcastle on Wednesday as the defending champions look to stay on course to defend their title.
Pellegrini will likely utilize the strength of his squad, with established internationals Fernandinho, Martin Demichelis, Stevan Jovetic, Bacary Sagna and James Milner set for starts after being on the bench for the 2-1 loss at West Ham on Saturday.
Newcastle beat Tottenham 2-1 away in the Premier League on Sunday.
“Hopefully, we can take that to Manchester City,” said Sammy Ameobi, one of the Newcastle scorers. “Anything is possible if we go out with the right attitude.”
CHANCE FOR UNDERDOGS
There will be at least two non-Premier League teams in the quarterfinals, with third-tier rivals MK Dons and Sheffield United playing each other and Derby traveling to Fulham in a meeting of two second-tier teams.
In other matches, Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion play second-tier side Brighton and Bournemouth, respectively.
Stoke hosts Southampton in an all-Premier League matchup, having played each other on Saturday. Southampton won that game 1-0 at home to move into second place in the standings.