Last year Chelsea faced Premier League opposition just once before their eventual final with Everton, this year round and top-flight opposition has arrived in the quarter finals.
Although the visitors are yet to be confirmed either Manchester City or Stoke will travel to the Bridge as the tournament nears its conclusion. A resounding 4-1 victory over Championship opponents Cardiff secured the Blues progression to the latter stages. The Londoners are in search of back-to-back FA Cup success’ a feat last secured by rivals Arsenal in 2002 to which they ironically beat Chelsea in the final. A succession of home triumphs over lower league opponents has seen the Blues score 11 times conceding on just one occasion and Sunday’s draw provided Carlo Ancelotti’s men with another home tie, a gift that will no doubt be received with high gratitude and relief. The Pensioners home form has been resilient, undefeated at home to date this season the Blues will be expected to compete in the last four, and with Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham the only notable threats the West Londoners will be firm favourites for the competition.
Chelsea’s problem however is their inconsistent away form, two away games to Wolves and Inter Milan will therefore provide little comfort for worried fans. A change of approach away from home has often led to incoherent displays with individuals visibly uncomfortable out of their comfort zone and the team as a whole become unreliable showing a lack of understanding for their role in the team. In particular the fluidity of the midfield has led to problems throughout the side. The versatility of each midfielder has seen them used out of position on a number of occasions with naturally wide players used in a combat midfield four. Michael Ballack, Deco and Frank Lampard have been hauled from one position to the next this season, over its duration each has adopted the holding, attacking and central roles. Further doubts will be raised as to the competency of a replacement left-back to carry the workload of injured Ashley Cole. Likely replacements may see the experienced Paulo Ferreira adopt the role or on the contrary Cole’s prot