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Chelsea vs Newcastle- Carlo calls on youth, but Magpies will prove test

chelsea stamford bridge

Written by Joe Carroll

Chelsea fans will get more than a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow as Carlo Ancelotti has indicated he will use Wednesday’s Carling Cup clash with Newcastle United to blood his youngsters.

The Carling Cup has often been the vehicle for top clubs to introduce academy starlets to top-flight football and Ancelotti is not about to buck that trend.  The Blues welcome newly promoted Newcastle back to Stamford Bridge after their season’s absence from the Premier League and the Italian feels that his blossoming youngsters are more than suitably equipped to guide Chelsea into the 4th round of the cup competition.

The ex AC Milan boss even went as far as naming a select few due for a place in the starting XI.

“They were involved in the last games, Sturridge played in the Champions League, Kakuta played two games, Bruma played in the last game against Blackpool and they will get more opportunities to play.” said Ancelotti.

Whilst Daniel Sturridge has undoubtedly seen more action than Gael Kakuta and Jeffrey Bruma, (the striker starred and scored in last weeks Champions league tie against MSK Zilina) his time at Stamford Bridge has been limited to bench warming duties and the occasional appearance as a substitution.  But with a heavy schedule packed full of European action and upcoming top of the table clashes against Manchester City and Arsenal, Ancelotti clearly feels the time is right to give youth a chance.

“It is a good experience for them to play this kind of game. They are involved this season more compared to last season and when there is an opportunity I want to give them the opportunity to play and show their quality.”

And show their quality they must.  Especially against a Newcastle side brimming with confidence after a positive start to the season.  The Magpies came away from Goodison Park on Saturday with a well earned 3 points and they will come to Stamford Bridge with a strong first team eager to cause an upset.

New boy Sol Campbell could well feature in what would be his first competitive game in a black and white shirt, and the ex-England man will surely relish playing at a ground where he was far from appreciated for his past allegiances across London.  Fellow summer signing Hatem Ben Arfa should also play after doing his claims for a starting place no harm at all after his wonder goal sealed victory against Everton on his debut.

What we should expect come the final whistle on Wednesday evening is the culmination of an exciting if not slightly unpredictable game.  Despite Chelsea’s breathtaking and unwavering form, English cup competitions are famous for their unpredictability and romance.  Perhaps what is most ironic about cup competitions is that there will predictably be an upset along the way and the Newcastle fans making the long trip from the North East will be sensing it will come in West London.

It has, after all, the makings of a major upset.  Newly promoted club; visiting the champions and current league leaders; facing a side potentially full of inexperienced lads; a young keeper not unknown for recent gaffes; and not won at the ground since 1986.  Statistics and hoodoo’s are there of course to be broken, and Newcastle will play like a side with nothing to lose.  On the flip side of the coin, Chelsea’s youth will have all the pressure of expectation on their shoulders.

If Chelsea wish to avoid an embarrassing reverse, then Ancelotti must not put the onus on his undoubtedly talented youngsters.  There needs to be an equal balance of youth and experience; fresh legs and old heads (and we know there’s plenty of the latter around at the Bridge!) in the starting XI.

And from Ancelotti’s pre-match comments, it looks as though he’s very cleverly deflecting the expectations of fans away from the academy stars.

“Obviously against Newcastle it is important to win to maintain a good atmosphere here but the most important thing is that these players can show their quality for the team.”

It is of course necessary that the boss rests certain key players- no club with serious ambitions of winning multiple trophies can afford not to make changes.  But you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that the special quality of cup football under the sparkling lights of a floodlit stadium can often provide the perfect plot for an underdog story.  Let’s just hope that Ancelotti finds the balance needed to stave off a spirited Toon Army.  One way or another, we’ll find out not only if youth has the quality but the fight to cut it at this level.

Team News

Chelsea: As the gaffer publicly stated, Ross Turnbull, Jeffrey Bruma, Gael Kakuta and Daniel Sturridge are all expected to start with Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, John Obi Mikel and Didier Drogba making way.  Frank Lampard continues his bid to regain fitness for the weekends visit to Eastlands so will not feature.  However captain John Terry could play some part in the tie.

Newcastle: Sol Campbell could deputise for the Magpies if he manages to prove his fitness whilst goalkeeper Tim Krul will continue between the sticks after Steve harper suffered a shoulder injury at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Possible Line Ups

Chelsea: Turnbull, Bruma, Ivanovich, Alex, Ferreira, Essien, Benayoun, Ramires, Malouda, Kakuta, Sturridge

Newcastle: Krul, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Campbell, Perch, Nolan, Barton, Routledge, Guttierez, Carroll, Ben Arfa

Is Ancelotti right to blood his youngsters in the Carling Cup?…Do you consider Newcastle a threat after their buoyant start to the campaign?…Or do you expect another Stamford Bridge white-wash?…please leave your comments below…

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