The FA Cup is probably Chelsea’s most realistic chance of silverware this season. Championship MK Dons stand in their way in the fourth round on Sunday.
The Blues have little to play for in the Premier League and so Guus Hiddink is likely to name a strong side as he aims to add another trophy to his career CV.
Here, CaughtOffside predicts the lineup that the Dutchman, who won this competition in his first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, will go with at the Stadium MK.
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GK: Asmir Begovic
Has lost his place in the Premier League team to Thibaut Courtois, but will get a start here.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
The Serbian has won three FA Cups in his seven seasons at Stamford Bridge.
CB: Gary Cahill
The Daily Star reports that Chelsea have rejected Cahill’s surprise request to leave before the transfer deadline, so Hiddink may have to alleviate his Euro 2016 fears with an increasingly rare start.
CB: Kurt Zouma
John Terry was rested for the third-round tie against Scunthorpe United and will be spared another match against lower-league opposition, with Zouma keeping his place to partner Cahill.
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta
Baba Rahman may be hoping for a run out this week, but that is perhaps more likely to come in Wednesday’s Premier League trip to Watford as Hiddink prioritises the cup competitions.
CM: John Obi Mikel
Hiddink’s favourite is likely to be preferred to Nemanja Matic as Chelsea’s deepest lying midfielder. Blues fans might want to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a scorer in the last round, but could be disappointed.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
The Spaniard was heavily criticised for his poor performances under Jose Mourinho in the first half of the season, but is showing signs of returning to his best. The Dons cannot afford to give him any space.
If any Chelsea player deserves a trophy from this disastrous season, it is the ever-consistent Brazilian.
Youngsters Bertrand Traore and Kenedy are both likely to be included in the squad, but Oscar is still favourite to keep his place in the attacking midfield three. Will drop back to help out Fabregas.
AML: Eden Hazard
The Belgian has yet to start under Hiddink because of injury and the Dutchman might see this as the perfect opportunity to get him back in the action. Came off the bench in the win over Arsenal.
ST: Diego Costa
Perhaps no Chelsea player has benefitted more from the switch in managers. Costa’s temperament has cooled and the goals have returned. The Spain international has six in his last six games.
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