On Wednesday night Chelsea and Fulham will begin their Carling Cup campaigns when they meet at Stamford Bridge though the most talked about man of the moment will not be taking the field.
Fernando Torres has been the subject of much ridicule following that quite astonishing miss against Manchester United on Sunday. However, to focus on that aberration would be to overlook an otherwise highly encouraging display from both the Spainiard and his team mates. The Blues should have scored a bare minimum of three goals at Old Trafford – taking into account Ramires’ extraordinary inability to score from five yards with the goalkeeper stranded – while several other gilt-edged chances went begging.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas will take great heart from what was undoubtedly the best display under his brief stewardship and he will be desperate to not let the positivity drain away with a poor performance against their West London neighbours. Nevertheless the Portuguese tactician will ring the changes with summer signing Romelu Lukaku likely to get his first start in a Blue shirt alongside fellow new boy Oriol Romeu and exciting youngsters Josh McEachran, Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Chalobah. Didier Drogba is expected to feature as he continues his recovery from the concussion he received in the Premier League match with Norwich at the end of last month.
Facing a supposedly under-strength side, you might expect Fulham to try to take advantage of the situation and get one over their illustrious neighbours but with the club having already participated in 13 competitive matches so far this season, the Carling Cup is being seen as an opportunity for reserve players to have a chance to shine. Danny Murphy and Brede Hangeland will be given the night off though deadline day signing Orlando Sa could make his first appearance for the Cottagers.