Chelsea

Chelsea drop triple early team news hint before Preston with Raheem Sterling dilemma

Chelsea news as the Blues prepare to take on Preston North End in the FA Cup third round at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea attacker Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling could play his first match since a missing huge chance against Wolves on Christmas Eve (Image: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)
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Some of Chelsea’s players have hinted at their possible involvement in the FA Cup third round tie against Preston on Saturday as Mauricio Pochettino’s side look to keep their strong domstic cup record going. The Blues already have a Carabao Cup semi-final to look forward to but are aiming to win this trophy for the first time since 2018.

It is a competition that the club has a long history with, but memories in recent years have been plagued by a trio of consecutive final defeats as well as a painful third round exit at the hands of Manchester City last year. Pochettino himself has never won the trophy but did get to back-to-back semi-finals with Tottenham in 2017 and 2018.

It is a competition that the club has a long history with, but memories in recent years have been plagued by a trio of consecutive final defeats as well as a painful third round exit at the hands of Manchester City last year. Pochettino himself has never won the trophy but did get to back-to-back semi-finals with Tottenham in 2017 and 2018.

The task this year is much simpler due to a poor league position. Chelsea have an easier route into any form of European football via the domestic cups than they do the table right now and fans are desperate for something to remember this season with.

Having gone strong against Championship opposition Blackburn in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, Pochettino has promised to do so again here. “Not too many changes,” he said of his team selection on Friday. “Playing with the circumstances of course, not going to change too much the team.

You will see maybe one or two, players normally not in the starting XI but of course because we have some circumstance we need to prevent and we need to anticipate problems. We take like a Premier League game, it’s not because it’s the FA Cup and a Championship team.”

With a spate of injuries to his squad, there is a chance for some of Cobham’s brighest talents to get a run out here too, but it is the senior crop dropping subtle messages online before the game. After being benched against Luton following a suspension for the win over Crystal Palace one week earlier, Raheem Sterling is one of those.

He posted a series of photos from training as well as a pre-match infographic onto his Instagram story and will be keen to get a chance to impress once more. Sterling angered fans on Christmas Eve when he last started, failing to square a pass when in a thee-on-one with Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa, instead opting to shoot and missing the chance.

In his place, Noni Madueke has shone in the past two weeks, getting the late winner from the spot against Palace having won the penalty and then smashing home a right-footed effort at Kenilworth Road just three days later. With Mykhailo Mudryk, Madueke and Cole Palmer all scoring more recently than Sterling there is pressure on the 28-year-old to get his place back.

You already know he’s going to play? You guess,” said a spikey Pochettino when asked if this was a big match for him. “It’s an important game for Chelsea and then we will see if he plays or not. I cannot answer a question that I know but you don’t know and no-one knows.”

 

 

Elsewhere, Moises Caicedo has also posted online. He has been fighting illness over the winter period but put in a series of impressive displays. Chelsea have now won their past three games when the 22-year-old has played. He posted a short video including details ahead of the game which indicate that he is set to start here too.

Midfield partner Enzo Fernandez has also been active on Instagram as he looks to make a first start since the quarter-final victory over Newcastle. He has been suffering from a hernia in recent weeks but returned before most imagined when he was named on the bench last weekend.

Although it’s far from a certainty that this trio start together, it would certainly fit the bill for recent team selection and Pochettino’s priorities

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