22 September 2014 20:04
The omens do not bode well for Bolton Wanderers as they prepare to face the might of Chelsea in Wednesday’s League Cup third-round tie.
Jose Mourinho has guided his star-studded side to the summit of the early Premier League table, scoring 16 goals in five matches along the way.
Bolton, meanwhile, have won just once in eight Championship games and Dougie Freedman’s team have kept only one clean sheet in that time.
It needed a late intervention from a familiar face to end Chelsea’s 100 per cent record in the league as Frank Lampard – a veteran of over 600 games for the London club – scored in the sky blue of Manchester City to restrict his former employers to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
That was Chelsea’s second draw in as many games, having also been held at home by Schalke in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
Mourinho’s men return to Stamford Bridge to face a club they used to enjoy playing against when Bolton were in the top flight.
Bolton emerged victorious from just three of 26 Premier League encounters with Chelsea.
Worse still for the Lancashire outfit is the regularity with which Chelsea have scored past them in previous meetings, the last eight alone in all competitions yielding 26 goals for the four-times League Cup winners.
If there is any hope for Bolton, it may be derived from the fact that this competition falls some way down Chelsea’s list of priorities.
With the Premier League crown having eluded them for the past four seasons, and the Champions League and FA Cup both enjoying more illustrious reputations, Chelsea are not likely to field their strongest side against their struggling second-tier visitors.
And yet with a squad so blessed with talent, even a second-string starting XI would be considered favourites to progress against an off-form Bolton.
So even if Freedman is spared the trouble of facing the likes of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, his opposite number will still be able to call on some stellar names.
Since last winning the competition in 2007 – for the second time under Mourinho – Chelsea have finished runners-up, reached one semi-final and featured in three last-eight ties.
Bolton also boast a proud League Cup pedigree, having won it twice – in 1995 and 2004 – and featured in two semi-finals.
Mourinho has the luxury of a full squad to choose from, but will rotate substantially from the line-up that earned a share of the spoils at the Etihad Stadium, while Freedman will weigh up some changes after Saturday’s frustrating 1-0 loss at Wolves, in which Owen Garvan missed a penalty.
Striker Jermaine Beckford scored twice in the second-round win over Crewe Alexandra and could be recalled after coming off the bench at Molineux, while Mark Davies, who came on for the unfortunate Garvan in that game, might also get the nod.