MK Dons v Chelsea preview: Eden Hazard set to return
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 31/01/16 3:56pm
Eden Hazard could start for the first time in four weeks in Chelsea's FA Cup fourth-round tie at MK Dons on Sunday.
Hazard has not started a game for the champions since their victory at Crystal Palace in early January, although he did make a 13-minute injury comeback in the Blues' victory at Arsenal on Sunday.
Chelsea's match-winner at Arsenal, Diego Costa, is also fit to feature, despite suffering a knee problem at the Emirates Stadium. However, fellow striker Loic Remy (calf) is a doubt.
Radamel Falcao (thigh) remains out, while the imminent deals for Alexandre Pato and Matt Miazga are unlikely to be completed in time for them to feature.
"We have a lot of games coming, in the FA Cup, the league and Champions League," interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, who led the Blues to FA Cup glory in 2009, said.
"We have to think very cleverly about how to get and keep everyone fit.
"That is important but the FA Cup is important for us and at the moment we don't think about Wednesday's match at Watford."
MK Dons, meanwhile, put their battle against relegation to one side when they welcome Chelsea to stadium:mk.
Having gained promotion last season, the Dons have work to do to preserve their Championship status after losing 3-1 to Bolton last Saturday, a result which leaves them just two points clear of the relegation zone.
And Dons boss Karl Robinson was relishing the "free game" against superior opposition, ignoring Chelsea's recent plight in the Premier League.
"We know if they're at their best, they can beat anybody in the world," Robinson said.
"We understand we'll be climbing a mountain, we understand we're certainly the underdogs, by a long way, but the FA Cup has thrown in a few strange results before, so you just don't know.
"We have to respect Chelsea as much as possible. We're also on a level playing field when we go out there, so we'll be doing everything we can to try to get a result."
Striker Nicky Maynard (hamstring) is a major doubt for MK Dons, while Matthew Upson (hamstring), Ben Reeves (thigh) and Carl Baker (ankle) are out.
George Baldock has returned following his loan spell at Oxford, but is cup-tied after featuring in their win over Swansea.
What are Chelsea playing for this season? They can't get in the top four, really. I know John Terry says they can, but they have to catch Spurs, who have a chance of winning the league. So if they can catch Spurs, they have a chance of winning the league themselves! For me, the FA Cup is what they are playing for, along with the Champions League.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-4 (Sky Bet odds 14/1)
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This will be the first meeting between these two sides in a competitive match.
Chelsea are appearing in the fourth round for the 18th consecutive season. However, they've been eliminated at this stage in two of the last five season, including a 4-2 defeat against Bradford last season.
MK Dons have won just one of their six home FA Cup games against a team from a higher division than themselves (2-0 vs Sheffield Wednesday in 2013).
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However, the Dons won their last FA Cup game against Premier League opposition, beating QPR 4-2 at Loftus Road in a fourth round tie in 2013.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last eight competitive matches (W4 D4).
Costa has scored six goals in six competitive appearances under Guus Hiddink - after netting just four goals in 21 competitive games before the Dutchman's appointment.
Chelsea are Sky Bet's 1/3 favourites to progress on Sunday, with MK Dons 8/1 to dump out the Premier League champions and 4/1 to secure a replay. The Blues head into the tie as 9/2 third favourites while MK Dons are one of the biggest priced outsiders at 200/1.
Costa is the 100/30 favourite in the first goalscorer market but it is Hazard at 5/1 who is being tipped up to break the deadlock by both Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson in their Sky Bet tips.