The gulf in class is clear in this cup tie, but in-form Chesterfield can score against the European Champions, says Jonno Turner
"If Chesterfield can score at Stamford Bridge, that breakthrough is likely to come from Tshimanga who is 3.55/2 to rustle the net. The forward is in red hot form, has six goals in seven career FA Cup games... and a habit of being in the right place at the right time. He's also the visitor's penalty taker."
Chelsea v Chesterfield
FA Cup Third Round
Live on BBC Red Button
A whopping 90 places separate European champions Chelsea from National League leaders Chesterfield as the pair line up at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup on Saturday.
This is a classic giants versus minnows cup tie, and will have the sentimentalists dewy-eyed at the prospect of a romantic giant killing. However, the 1.091/11 available on Chelsea to win underlines the gulf in class between these two sides. No team is a shorter price to win their FA Cup third round tie this weekend.
You won't get rich at those odds, but nevertheless, there is value to be had in this tie - and with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel set to make a raft of changes, the in-form Spireites will be looking to raise some heart rates in west London, as they bring non-league's hottest striker to Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel eyeing painless progression
Chelsea come into this tie with a squad ravaged by injuries and COVID - but regardless of absences, these games are never attractive for the big boys, and Thomas Tuchel will be keen to avoid an FA Cup giant killing with a thoroughly professional performance on home turf.
This competition is one that Chelsea has historically prioritised, making the final four times in five seasons, and the hosts do have good form in these potential banana skins, having lost just one of their last 34 FA Cup clashes with sides from lower divisions, a 4-2 home defeat against League One side Bradford City in 2015.
Pre-game, Tuchel stressed that he will hand opportunities to younger and squad players, and has hinted that a few returning stars including Timo Werner will feature. That balance of experience is key - after all, Chelsea U21s only managed a 1-1 draw with Forest Green, and a 0-0 stalemate with Cheltenham in the EFL Trophy earlier this season.
Chelsea's future stars could feature
With Lukaku-gate firmly behind them, Chelsea fans are likely to get a glimpse of the future with many tipping hot prospects Harvey Vale and Jude Soonsup-Bell to come into the fold this weekend. Vale has bagged five in 11 outings in the Premier League 2 this season, and is 5.49/2 to open the scoring here.
But I think that the returning Werner, who is set to be given some much needed game time, could be a key difference between the teams.
Werner made his comeback in midweek against Spurs, and Tuchel might see this as a good opportunity to give him extra minutes, with the chance of a few confidence-boosting goals to boot.
The German is 4.3100/30 to score 2 or more against Chesterfield's ageing defensive trio, and if he gets a good chunk of game time, that's not a bad shout.
Tshimanga offers Spireites glimmer of hope
Despite their Goliath task here, James Rowe's Chesterfield side are certainly no pushovers. They travel down the M1 sitting two points clear with a game in hand, and in dominant form in the National League. The Spireites have lost just once in the league this season, with 18-goal star striker Kabongo Tshimanga leading the line.
Under Rowe, The Spireites play a fearless and attacking style of football that has seen them rack up an average of 1.9 goals per game - the best in the National League - and with marauding wing backs, including pacy ex-Celtic prospect Calvin Miller, they will be looking to stretch Chelsea's inexperienced defence from the off.
The Spireites may be five tiers below Chelsea, but they have big game experience in the squad.
Curtis Weston is the youngest player ever to appear in an FA Cup Final, having turned out for Millwall at 17 years old in 2004 and goalkeeper Scott Loach was called up by England in 2010.
If Chesterfield can score at Stamford Bridge, that breakthrough is likely to come from Tshimanga who is 3.55/2 to rustle the net. The forward is in red hot form, has six goals in seven career FA Cup games... and a habit of being in the right place at the right time. He's also the visitor's penalty taker.
Only Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic and Blackburn's Ben Brereton have scored more goals than him in the top seven tiers of English football so far this year. Nevertheless, this will be the biggest test of his career so far, and many potential suitors will be watching his performance to see if he can cut it on the big stage.
Back Chelsea to take control early
Ask any top manager how to tackle these awkward cup ties and they will tell you the same thing: make home advantage count and get ahead early. That will be key for Chelsea as they look to ruin Chesterfield's party and assert their dominance on their own turf.
The Blues have been relatively quick off the mark in the league this season, bagging first half goals in 15 of their 21 league games - and in that time, they've broken the deadlock five times before the 20 minute mark, and 10 times before the 30 minute mark.
Chesterfield will come into this game full of belief, but once the game settles in we should start to see the gulf in quality, speed and fitness. I like the 1.538/15 available on Chelsea to lead at 30 mins. If you're feeling braver, you can get 2.01/1 on the home side leading at 20 mins.
For the stattos, Chesterfield do have history here. They inflicted Chelsea's first ever home Football League defeat, winning 1-0 at the Bridge back in 1905. A repeat of that score line on Saturday is 160.0159/1!
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