4 January 2019

Chelsea v. Nott'm Forest Preview  (Sky Sports)

Eden HazardFA Cup holders Chelsea get their title defence underway on Saturday when they host Nottingham Forest in the third round.

Chelsea best Manchester United 1-0 in the 2018 final, with Eden Hazard's 22nd-minute penalty sealing an eighth FA Cup title for the club.

The Blues assistant manager Gianfranco Zola reiterated how important the competition is but said it is difficult to try and play all the best players.

"For me, I always rated it as one of the best. It is open to everyone like football should be. It is an open competition and it feeds the dream of many people. The crowd loves it, everybody does," he said.

"We are trying to establish ourselves in this championship and we want to do well in the FA Cup. It is a pity the game comes where we have played so many games. You have to try to save some players."

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka is confident his side can cause an FA Cup upset when they take on the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

"If I don't believe, I can't convince the players," he said. "I have to be the first who is convinced and I am because to prepare one game thinking that it will be impossible to win, then it will be impossible to win.

"I am convinced that we can compete against them because we always compete against good teams.

"It is not easy to play at Stamford Bridge and against those kind of players. It is something that the players should feel in the way that we showed how good we are against Leeds, I hope that they show how good they are."

Team news

Callum Hudson-Odoi is fit again following a hamstring injury and could feature on Saturday. Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud are out, while Eden Hazard is poised to be rested as Maurizio Sarri prepares to rotate his options.

Nottingham Forest have problems in defence as they look to spring a surprise at Stamford Bridge. Michael Hefele is likely to miss out after he suffered an Achilles injury against Leeds on New Year's Day, while Tobias Figueiredo will only feature if he has recovered from a dead leg.

Michael Dawson (hamstring) remains out so Claudio Yacob could be used in the centre of defence. Top scorer Lewis Grabban remains a doubt after the 15-goal striker missed out against Leeds with a slight injury.

Opta stats

Chelsea have progressed from all three of their FA Cup ties against Nottingham Forest, with all previous meetings being in round four (1933-34, 1999-00 and 2006- 07).

Nottingham Forest have eliminated the FA Cup holders on five of the six previous occasions they've faced them, including Arsenal at this stage last season.

Chelsea - who have reached the FA Cup final in the last two seasons - haven't been eliminated at the third round stage since the 1997-98 campaign.

Nottingham Forest have alternated between defeat and victory in their last six FA Cup third round ties, beating Arsenal 4-2 last season.

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