The EFL Cup fourth round fixtures are scheduled this midweek which includes some enticing encounters. There have been a few upsets already in the previous round, but the biggest shock was delivered at Old Trafford where minnows Derby County knocked out Manchester United after a thrilling penalty shootout. Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea and England midfield icon, has done a masterful job so far in his maiden managerial experience but is expecting an even bigger contest on Wednesday night when the Rams clash heads with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues legend would have an emotional return to his boyhood club, but he would hope to cause consecutive upsets defying the odds. Chelsea are in sublime form under new chief Maurizio Sarri and humbled Liverpool at Anfield in the previous round. The game should be a stroll in the park for the London heavyweights, but their own Frank Lampard must motivate his Derby side to justify the ‘giant-killers’ label once more and would demand a headstrong display to continue their remarkable domestic form of past few weeks.
The Blues have allowed on-loan Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori to play against their parent club. Mount, meanwhile, had a knock against Middlesbrough but is expected to be fit before the trip. Midfield veteran Craig Bryson is sidelined with a calf strain whereas Marcus Olsson remains the long-term injury absentee rupturing his cruciate ligament. Also, youngster George Evans and experienced Welshman Joe Ledley are ruled out with back injuries.
Lampard has been flexible with team formations despite preferring a 4-3-3 in the majority of fixtures. He has lined the Rams up in a 4-2-3-1 at times with double pivot and should opt for the same to add balance at the back.
Veteran Scott Carson has been the Rams’ ‘number 1’ since joining them back in 2015 and should be alert between the sticks to deny multiple goal-bound threats.
Although his late own goal denied Derby a victory at Middlesbrough, youngster Jayden Bogle has been a revelation as a right fullback and is expected to keep hold of his place ahead of outcast Andre Wisdom. The experience of Richard Keogh would be crucial in deep defence and hopes will be high from both the camps when starlet Fikayo Tomori starts in the backline against his parent club. Scott Malone is being preferred in a left-back role in recent gameweeks, but the gaffer should hand Craig Forsyth an opportunity.
Lampard should demand experience in deep down the midfield and line up Tom Huddlestone and Bradley Johnson together to marshall the defensive line.
Harry Wilson, the Liverpool loanee is in sublime form and must continue his influence on right midfield. Tom Lawrence, too, had some promising outings down the opposite flank. However, all eyes will be on Mason Mount, the promising Chelsea prodigy who recently earned his maiden senior England call-up for an excellent show as midfield attacker.
Derby have an array of centre-forward options in their ranks in David Nugent, Martyn Waghorn and in-form Jack Marriott. The latter, however, is being preferred as the ‘number 9’ of late and should retain his place upfront on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge.