Who: Derby County F.C. vs. Chelsea F.C.
What: FA Cup (Round 3)
Where: The iPro Stadium (Pride Park), Derby, England, United Kingdom
When: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel Derby forecast
Time: 14:15 GMT/9:15 a.m. ET/6:15 a.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer 2 Go (US); BT Sport 1 (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC, BBC Radio 5 Live
Referee: Andre Marriner
3-Way Odds: Derby County +600, Chelsea -250, Draw +330
Total: Under 3 -140, Over 3 +110
Decimal Odds: Derby County 7.00, Chelsea 1.40, Draw 4.30
Decimal Total: Under 3 1.71, Over 3 2.10
Fractional Odds: Derby County 6/1, Chelsea 2/5, Draw 33/10
Fractional Total: Under 3 5/7, Over 3 11/10
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1 -150, Derby County +1 +115
Over 2½ -165, Under 2½ +125
First Half: Derby County +500, Chelsea -110, Draw +125
To Win FA Cup: Chelsea 5/1, Derby County 200/1
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
Chelsea hopes to continue its recent run of good play when it travels to Derby this weekend to play Championship side Derby County in its game of the FA Cup opener at Pride Park on Sunday.
The Blues enter the game against the Rams on the heels of a three-game win streak in which they’ve outscored opponents 6-1 and looked about as fluid as a team as they have in some time. Chelsea begins play in the world’s oldest cup competition in this, the third round of play.
Derby County (13-5-6, 44 points) and manager Steve McClaren enter this game with Chelsea—the big super club from the English Premier League—in fourth place in the Championship, now seven points behind league leaders Leicester City (16-3-5, 51 points) after losing to Wigan Athletic (1-0) on New Year’s Day. This is the first time in almost six years the two clubs have played.
The last meeting was back in March of 2008 when Blues vice captain Frank Lampard politely dropped four goals in Derby County’s Easter baskets in a 6-1 thumping at Stamford Bridge. The Rams' last win against Chelsea was in 1999—way back when rapper Eminem released his first major album The Slim Shady LP—so you know Derby County will be scheming and scamming for the big upset and the ambiance should be quite berserk at Pride Park.
The Rams are a beige 5-3-3 at home in league play but with Chris Martin (12 goals, 6 assists), Craig Bryson (11 goals, 7 assists) and Jamie Ward (7 goals, 2 assists), have more than enough firepower to give the Europa League champions a little scare here, especially if goalkeeper Lee Grant is on his game.
But, in the end, a scare is just a scare and upsetting a Jose Mourinho-led squad no matter who his starting XI will be will provide to be more than a challenge for the boys from Derby and expect Chelsea—which has won this tournament seven times—to prevail and move on to the next round against the Rams who have lost all six of their FA Cup games against EPL sides over the past 16 years.
The Blues recent mini-purple patch can be attributed to its defense which, after allowing three goals in back-to-back games for the first time in over decade, has been absolutely superb, giving up just four goals in those seven subsequent games (0.57 gpg average)—two of those to Sunderland in their Capital One Cup quarterfinals loss to the Black Cats.
Chelsea (13-4-3, 43 points) and goalkeeper Petr Cech were again very stout in a 3-0 shutout of Southampton in West London on New Year’s Day which kept the Blues in third place in England’s top flight, two points behind current league leaders Arsenal (14-3-3, 45 points) and second-place Manchester City (14-2-4, 44 points).
Whether The Special One chooses to give attacking midfielder Eden Hazard a rest in this one remains to be seen but with so much talent at the position, it seems no matter who Mourinho selects will somehow get the job done. This team is in a groove. The Blues do have some concerns injury-wise, though, with Lampard (muscle) and defender Branislav Ivanovic (knee) reportedly out for the entire month of January.
This one should stay pretty tight for the first 30 minutes as both sides see how the other is approaching the match, but I expect Chelsea to score first and go into the locker room at halftime with a 1-0 lead courtesy of an Andre Schurrle goal. Derby may level it up early in the second half but with surprisingly strong offensive play from the central defenders and back four, the Blues should find a way to put this one away with a couple of goals between the 65- and 80-minute mark in the East Midlands.
The draw for the fourth round of the historic tournament will take place later in the day (Sunday) at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea’s schedule resumes with a Premier League date against Hull City at the Kingston Communications Stadium on Monday, Jan. 11, followed by a highly anticipated date with defending champions Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 19.
PREDICTION: Derby County 0 Chelsea 3
BETS: Chelsea -250, Chelsea -1 -150
>Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11