The EPL defending champions, Chelsea, have been one of the biggest disappointments this season as they currently lie in the 14th place with 23 points. With EPL title far off, the Chelsea management seems to have their eyes on the FA Cup silverware in England as they are set to face League One side Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup third-round tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The match holds great importance for Chelsea, who are undefeated in their last four games, including a huge confidence-boosting victory over Crystal Palace in their last EPL fixture.
With Guus Hiddink in charge of the team at present, Chelsea are gradually improving and could be a huge threat in the second half of the season in competitions like FA Cup, if their new manager finds a way to improve their performance in every department of the game.
Chelsea, who are set to miss one of their key players Eden Hazard due to a hamstring injury, will depend on their striker Diego Costa to lead the team from the front in the offensive end against Scunthorpe United. Costa, who scored a goal against Palace, should be a confident player when he faces against a relatively weak team, Scunthorpe United.
Hiddink wants his team to play quality football with more depth.
"We emphasise on not just playing the nice game, because players who like to play the game nicely have a tendency to always go towards the ball in possession," Chelsea FC official website quoted Hiddink as saying.
"What we are emphasising is to have a mix so that they are also looking for playing off the ball and looking for more depth in our game. The first goal against Crystal Palace was an example as Diego Costa ran deep and got the right timing of the pass."
Chelsea, who possessed a solid defensive game last season, have been below par at the back and have allowed their opponents to score easy goals. They have let in 29 goals this season (EPL) already and Hiddink wants his team to defend as a unit when they are facing the music.
"We do some drills on the final third, but also we emphasise on very good, tactical, organised defensive work, which doesn't mean that I want to see the team drop back, but if they go collectively and defend as a unit then, on top of that, the players who have the quality, they can play more easily in the final third," added Hiddink.
Chelsea, despite being favourites to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup, have to be on top of their game against Scunthorpe United, who are currently placed in the 15th place in League One standings table. The Blues do not want another embarrassing exit after they lost to Bradford City, who were also considered an easy team, in the fourth round of FA Cup last season.
Scunthorpe, who may not have an array of top players, are going to primarily depend on Paddy Madden for goals against Chelsea. Tom Hopper and Gary McSheffrey's return from injury are positive signs for Scunthorpe United, who are expected to give their all against the Blues.
Where to watch live
Chelsea vs Scunthorpe United third-round FA Cup tie is scheduled for 2pm GMT (7:30pm IST, 3:30am ET). India viewers can watch Chelsea vs Scunthorpe United live on Sony Six with live streaming on Sonyliv.
The viewers in the US can catch FA Cup third round clash live on Fox Sports 1, while the game can also be live-streamed online on Fox Sports Go.