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spot in the FA Cup fourth round will be on the line when Chelsea and Preston North End clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The FA Cup has resumed with the third round, with Premier League clubs entering the competition. The latest stage began on Thursday, with Crystal Palace taking on Everton in a goalless draw. The action continues on an action-paced Saturday, with four simultaneous fixtures, including Chelsea vs Preston North End, bringing it to a close.

2023/24 has been a horrific season thus far for Chelsea, with Mauricio Pochettino struggling to turn things around. The Blues are tenth on the Premier League table, blowing hot and cold throughout the ongoing campaign. But there are signs of a turnaround, with Pochettino’s charges winning four of their last games.

The story is not much different for Preston North End. The Lilywhites had a mid-table finish last season in the EFL Championship and remain in a similar position this term. But unlike the home side, Ryan Lowe’s men have won only one of their last five games, losing the only other match.

The last two clashes featuring Chelsea and Preston North End have come in the FA Cup, with the Blues winning both games by a two-goal margin. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

TheHardTackle
Chelsea vs Preston North End: Preview and Prediction
by Keshav Awasty January 5, 2024 11:10 pm Reading Time: 7 mins read
Home » round-ups » Chelsea vs Preston North End: Preview and Prediction

A spot in the FA Cup fourth round will be on the line when Chelsea and Preston North End clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The FA Cup has resumed with the third round, with Premier League clubs entering the competition. The latest stage began on Thursday, with Crystal Palace taking on Everton in a goalless draw. The action continues on an action-paced Saturday, with four simultaneous fixtures, including Chelsea vs Preston North End, bringing it to a close.

2023/24 has been a horrific season thus far for Chelsea, with Mauricio Pochettino struggling to turn things around. The Blues are tenth on the Premier League table, blowing hot and cold throughout the ongoing campaign. But there are signs of a turnaround, with Pochettino’s charges winning four of their last games.

The story is not much different for Preston North End. The Lilywhites had a mid-table finish last season in the EFL Championship and remain in a similar position this term. But unlike the home side, Ryan Lowe’s men have won only one of their last five games, losing the only other match.

The last two clashes featuring Chelsea and Preston North End have come in the FA Cup, with the Blues winning both games by a two-goal margin. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Mauricio Pochettino has greeted positive updates on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Preston North End on Saturday, the Chelsea manager will be bereft of the services of 11 first-team players.

Ben Chilwell (hamstring), Benoit Badiashile (knock), and Carney Chukwuemeka (knee) have resumed training. But while they are close to returning, the game against Preston North End has come too soon for the trio.

Robert Sanchez (knee), Reece James (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (knee), Marc Cucurella (ankle), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Romeo Lavia (hamstring), and Lesley Ugochukwu (thigh) remain in the treatment room. Meanwhile, Nicolas Jackson has joined his compatriots for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Armando Broja will spearhead the Chelsea attack against Preston North End on Saturday. Noni Madueke, Christopher Nkunku, and Mykhailo Mudryk should complete the numbers in the final third. As for the midfield unit, Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher should pair up in the double pivot.

Alfie Gilchrist will earn a rare start for the Chelsea first team, pairing up with Axel Disasi at the heart of the defence. Levi Colwill and Malo Gusto should be the two full-backs, with Djordje Petrovic deputising for Sanchez in the goal.

Preston North End
Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Ryan Lowe barely has any issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. The Preston North End manager will be without only one first-team player on Saturday.

Robbie Brady should be the only absentee, with the 31-year-old recovering from an unspecified issue. Otherwise, Lowe has a full-strength squad for the trip to London for the FA Cup third-round clash.

Freddie Woodman will take his spot between the sticks, with Preston North End lining up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of him. The system will enable the wing-backs to express themselves freely in the final third, providing width from the flanks. In addition, they will drop deep to create a back five during the defensive phases.

Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay, and Andrew Hughes should form the central defensive unit. Brad Potts and Liam Millar will line up as the two wing-backs. Meanwhile, Ryan Ledson, Ali McCann, and Alan Browne will form a dynamic midfield trifecta that will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park. Finally, Ched Evans and Will Keane should be the two strikers.

Noni Madueke endured a trial by fire throughout 2023 after joining Chelsea from PSV Eindhoven in January. The Englishman was among the best young attackers in the Eredivisie during his stint with PSV. But the volatility at Chelsea impacted him the most, as he barely featured last year.

That led to rumours that a departure from Stamford Bridge was on the cards heading into the January transfer window. But Madueke has bounced back well in the last ten days, scoring in Chelsea’s two games that ended the year. With confidence rising, the youngster will be eager to continue on the upward trajectory and establish a foothold at Chelsea. Saturday’s game will provide another opportunity to do so.

Prediction
Chelsea 3-1 Preston North End
Form has rarely been the telling factor for Chelsea heading into a game this season. That will be the case again on Saturday, even though Preston North End’s recent games give little cause for optimism for the away fans.

However, with Noni Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk showing improvements and Christopher Nkunku settling down well, Chelsea should make light work of Preston North End. The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward encounter that should see the home side clinch a 2-0 win.

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