Chelsea are returning to form and should be far too good for Scunthorpe on Sunday.
This is the first of three home games for Chelsea in the next seven days and they come into this match on the back of a four game unbeaten streak since Jose Mourinho was shown the exit. Guus Hiddink won the Cup in his previous spell in charge of Chelsea after taking over from ‘Big Phil’ Scolari in 2009 and he couldn’t have asked for a much easier start to the competition.
Chelsea have won 15 of 19 FA Cup matches against lower league opposition since 2008/09, with all those wins coming by more than one goal, and they’ve won by at least three clear in seven of their last nine such home matches. Their home form might not amount to much in the league this season but they won all three games here in the Champions League and with this being their best chance of a trophy this season they will surely take this test seriously.
Scunthorpe are in the bottom half of League One but they have lost only once since December and they have a reputation as decent travellers. Since the start of October they’ve won half their eight away matches, but then again they’re not playing Chelsea every week. Last season they went out at this stage after a replay and extra-time, so they’re unbeaten in 90 minutes across their last eight FA Cup matches. The last time they played a Premier League side in the competition, however, they were thrashed 5-1 at home by Everton in 2011 while the year before Man City scored four when they visited the Iron.
Premier League sides have won 67% of their 98 FA Cup home matches against third tier teams since 1992/93, though the two such ties last season both went the way of the away side, including Chelsea’s remarkable 4-2 defeat against Bradford that came after the Blues took an early 2-0 lead. 35 of these matches were level at half-time but class generally won out as 66% still went the way of the Premier League side, with 16 of the 23 wins coming by more than one goal. Overall the top-flight side won the second half in 60% of all 98 matches and even if the Iron can hang on till the break they are unlikely to hold out forever.
Both teams scored in 46% of the 98 ties and given Scunthorpe have netted in 10 of their last 11 away matches we wouldn’t be surprised if they nicked one against a Chelsea defence that has been suspect all season. However, a motivated Chelsea side that is starting to return to some form should be too good and we expect them to win by at least two and probably more, so are happy to back them on the handicap.
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