Chelsea v Bournemouth: Carabao Cup quarter-final preview
Last Updated: 20/12/17 7:00pm
Antonio Conte will hand some of his fringe players an opportunity to impress in Chelsea's Carabao Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Conte conceded that Chelsea are highly unlikely to catch Manchester City in the Premier League after their 1-0 defeat to West Ham earlier this month, but his side are still competing on four fronts this season.
And with fixtures coming thick and fast for the Blues, the Italian plans to rotate his squad for the visit of Bournemouth.
"I want to continue to give the chance to players that are not playing with regularity," he told Chelsea TV.
"I want to continue this way, but at the same time we want to reach the semi-final."
Bournemouth have endured a difficult run of late, failing to win any of their last six Premier League matches which has left them just one point above the relegation zone.
With Premier League survival a priority for the Cherries this season, boss Eddie Howe is also likely to rest some key players for the game, particularly with a daunting away fixture at Manchester City to come on Saturday.
Marcos Alonso is unavailable for selection through suspension after he picked up his fifth domestic booking of the season in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.
Alonso scored the winning goal for Chelsea in that game from a free-kick and could be replaced by the versatile Davide Zappacosta at left wing-back.
David Luiz remains sidelined with a knee injury and his long-term future at the club remains unclear with Sunday People chief football writer Steve Bates stating that he could he leave in January on Sunday Supplement.
Howe has no fresh injury concerns following Bournemouth's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday but will be without Tyrone Mings, Adam Federici (both knee) and Brad Smith (hip) for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
This will be only the second meeting between these sides in the League Cup, with Chelsea winning both legs 1-0 in their previous encounter, the second round in 1994-95.
Bournemouth have only won one of their last nine meetings with Chelsea in all competitions (L8), though that win did come at Stamford Bridge back in December 2015.
The Blues have won seven of their last eight home League Cup games (L1), netting 24 goals in the process.
Chelsea have been eliminated from three of their previous five League Cup quarter-final ties.
The Cherries have never won in 15 previous away League Cup games against top-flight opponents (D3 L12), though they did eliminate Blackburn on penalties in September 2004 as a League One side, with Eddie Howe playing the full 120 minutes in that match.
This is only Bournemouth's second appearance in the quarter-final of this competition - they lost their previous such match 1-3 against Liverpool in 2014-15.
Michy Batshuayi has scored five goals in his five appearances in the League Cup, including a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in the third round of this year's tournament.
Callum Wilson has scored in three of his last four League Cup matches for Bournemouth, in a run stretching back to August 2014.
Chelsea v Bournemouth (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
Bournemouth got a seeing to on Sunday but the slightly good news is Chelsea, who I covered, were very flat on Saturday.
Antonio Conte will have one eye on Everton away on Saturday so I think there will be changes with the likes of Michy Batshuayi and Charly Musonda getting another chance.
However, their visitors are in a relegation battle and after a 4-0 battering they'll need every ounce of energy to prevent an even bigger hammering when they visit Manchester City on Saturday.
Charlie predicts: 2-0 and Batshuayi to score first (12/1 with Sky Bet)
Chelsea are Sky Bet's shortest-priced favourite of the quarter-finalists at just 3/10 to progress within 90 minutes, with their visitors 9/1 to cause an upset and 17/4 to take the tie to extra-time. Alvaro Morata and Michy Batsuayi share first goalscorer favouritism at 3/1 apiece, a third of the price of Jermain Defoe and Callum Wilson at 9/1 to break the deadlock.