Two giants of West London face off in the EPL Cup on Wednesday evening. Who will line up and what will happen in this tantalising cup showdown?
Three days after failing in an attempt to have their Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers postponed, Chelsea will be forced back onto the pitch again on Wednesday for an EFL Cup quarter-final against Brentford.
Thomas Tuchel’s outfit are in the midst of a catastrophic COVID-19 outbreak, giving Brentford extra hope of claiming a victory in this West London derby.
Chelsea’s absentee list got even longer against Wolves, as the already-depleted Blues saw Hakim Ziyech and Trevoh Chalobah withdrawn through injury.
Tuchel is optimistic that neither injury is particularly serious, but the quick turnaround in fixtures makes both doubtful for this game.
Kai Havertz missed the Wolves match due to illness, but has since tested negative for coronavirus, so the German could start as the striker on Wednesday.
Chelsea will also assess Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the former returning an inconclusive test and the latter missing the Wolves clash with a knock.
Andreas Christensen is also carrying an injury and is not likely to be gambled on. Therefore, the door could open for Malang Sarr to make a rare start.
Tuchel is expected to shuffle his pack where possible, meaning that there could also be opportunities for Saúl Ñíguez, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Ross Barkley, and Mateo Kovačić.
Thomas Frank’s Brentford also have coronavirus absenteeism to contend with, although Ivan Toney is understood to have recovered from the virus, so could be in contention. Meanwhile, it has also been nearly two weeks since Ethan Pinnock tested positive.
The Bees‘ injury situation is far from ideal either, with Julian Jeanvier, David Raya, Joshua Dasilva, and Kristoffer Ajer all sidelined.
In attack, Brentford boast the competition’s leading scorer in Marcus Forss. The Finn’s five EFL Cup goals this season mean that he has now scored nine and created one more in a total of 10 League Cup starts.
In another difficult match to call because of COVID-19 absenteeism, we are going for a narrow Chelsea victory. Our prediction is 1-0 to the visitors, with the goal coming in the second half.
Brentford possible starting XI:
Fernández; Goode, Jansson, Thompson; Roerslev, Ghoddos, Bidstrup, Jensen, Fosu-Henry; Toney, Forss
Chelsea possible starting XI:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Sarr; James, Saúl Ñíguez, Kovačić, Alonso; Mount, Barkley; Havertz