By Tim Harrison
There will be a carnival atmosphere at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. It’s FA Cup 3rd round time, and Peterborough United – eighth in League One – are bringing 6,000 fans along.
The entire Shed end has been given to the Posh, who sold their allocation long before Christmas.
While Grant McCann fields a top-strength side, Tony Conte will take the chance to reward the patience of those denied game time in the unbeaten run.
Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Ruben Loftus-Cheek hope to play, with Michy Batshuayi up front and Asmir Begovic in goal.
Kurt Zouma is desperate to feature, having been an unused sub for several weeks after returning to full training following an 11-month lay-off following knee surgery.
The trouble is, Conte is keen to sign Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk (red-carded last weekend) as cover for Gary Cahill in defence.
Zouma’s middle name is Happy, but he’ll be anything but if his Blues career comes to an end after nearly a year of recuperation.
Conte wants to give Batshuayi a chance to prove himself, but up to now hasn’t liked to tinker with a winning formula.
“It’s not easy to arrive in this league and play if you are young,” said Conte of the 23-year-old Belgian. “It’s difficult for a young player to adapt, but Michy is working very well. We must have patience to work with him to improve.
“His attitude and behaviour is fantastic. He wants to improve his quality, technically and physically. I’m sure Michy’s moment will arrive.”
Conte said that Batshuayi was a different type of forward to Diego Costa, and certainly it would be unlikely that the young Belgian could have physically outmuscled Bruno Martins Indi as Costa did to score the goal that sealed the 4-2 win in the back-and-forward thriller against Stoke at the weekend.
Chelsea fans love the FA Cup, having won it four times in the past decade.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.