Rafa Benitez has said he is desperate for his Chelsea team to avoid another replay in the FA Cup as they prepare to face Middlesbrough at the Riverside this evening. Chelsea have already played 47 games this season, and Benitez wants to win the match tonight to avoid adding yet another fixture to their schedules.
After being overtaken by Tottenham Hotspur in the league on Monday, Benitez has said his team need to be more consistent to seal a third place finish this season. The Chelsea manager is convinced his team can reclaim a top three place in the league.
Benitez also said that despite any concerns about league position, and the speculation regarding a training ground bust-up with John Terry, he is fully focussed on the match at Middlesbrough tonight.
Demba Ba believes the FA Cup is the perfect chance for him to claim the first bit of silverware in his career. The striker is cup tied for the Europa League, and says he is hungry to claim the other trophy Chelsea have a realistic chance of winning this season.
One Chelsea youngster with conflicted loyalties for the match is Josh McEachran, with the on loan midfielder ineligible to play against his parent club tonight.
Chelsea loanee Nathanial Chalobah believes that his impressive performances at Watford this season will see him compete for a place in the Blues’ squad next year. The 18 year old midfielder has praised the impact Watford boss Gianfranco Zola has had on his game, and says he is ready to challenge more established names at Chelsea:
“It’s down to confidence within myself, belief and showing hunger when I go back to Chelsea to try and get in the squad.”
West Brom manager Steve Clarke has said that he hopes that his club can keep hold of another Chelsea loanee next season. Romelu Lukaku has been in superb form at the Hawthorns in recent weeks, and has suggested in the past he would be happy to stay at the club for another year if there was no guarantee of first team action at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres has been mocked in a Paddy Power advert that has been put up near Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have reportedly tried to get the billboard removed, but to no avail.
One picture that has been removed is a photo of Roberto Di Matteo with the Chelsea squad and the silverware they won last season. The picture was reportedly removed before Chelsea replay with Brentford in the last round of the FA Cup.
image: © Free-ers