LONDON: Chelsea's winter slump enabled Watford to force a draw in the FA Cup third round two weeks ago. After picking up form, Chelsea with the old' team in action could turn today's rematch into a one-sided embarrassment.
Leicester, meanwhile, host Manchester City today. Both clubs lost by four goal margins in league play at the weekend Leicester in a 4-0 loss to Chelsea and City a 4-2 defeat at Portsmouth.
Watford needed a disputed goal to draw 2-2 with Chelsea on Jan 3 at Vicarage Road. Heidar Helguson's opening goal was a looping header which dropped in behind Chelsea goalkeeper Neil Sullivan. A TV replay showed the ball struck the bar but failed to cross the line. Even so, referee Alan Wiley awarded the goal.
Watford manager Ray Lewington was not giving up. Everyone is talking as if it is a formality for Chelsea but we still believe there is a twist to all this,'' he said.
I just hope we give ourselves justice on the night. I don't think we can afford to change our approach. In the back of your mind when you are playing the top three, you know if this lot click they can embarrass you.''
The draw came in the middle of a winter slump for Chelsea with only two wins in six matches. After a 1-0 loss to Liverpool last Wednesday, manager Claudio Ranieri made six changes for Saturday's match at Leicester.
The Blues won 4-0 with the majority of the line-up at Stamford Bridge before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club and added more than £110 million worth of new players.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who scored two goals, and Eidur Gudjohnsen were up front with the old defensive pairing of Mario Melchiot and Celestine Babayaro the fullbacks.
We have to believe in ourselves and believe we can win every match,'' Hasselbaink said. If we do that we will cause problems for other teams.''
Now Ranieri must decide whether Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu, Wayne Bridge and Geremi start today.
A team is like a child,'' Ranieri said. When a child makes a mistake and you put him under pressure, he cannot grow up with confidence. I prefer it when everyone is against me.''
Manchester City haven't won in 14 matches, but Paul Power, who captained the last City side to play in a FA Cup final in 1981, thinks a win over Leicester could turn the season around.
A good Cup run would be amazing,'' said Power, now assistant coach at City's Academy. City could win the next three games, including the Leicester replay, and all of a sudden there would be a positive atmosphere in the camp.'' AP