Weblog: The football punter

Chelsea can cruise into FA Cup quarter-finals

Talk of a Chelsea crisis has subsided after their 3-0 victory over West Brom on Monday and the Blues' revival can continue with a comfortable victory over Sky Bet Championship strugglers Hull in the FA Cup fifth round.

Tuesday's Champions League last 16 first-leg clash with Barcelona is looming and Antonio Conte has hinted at making plenty of changes to keep key men fresh.

Talisman Eden Hazard seems unlikely to be among the starters and there could be a first Chelsea appearance for left-back Emerson Palmieri, who signed from Roma last month.

Chelsea have relied a lot on Hazard and his absence is a concern for punters thinking of pencilling the Blues into weekend accumulators.

The Belgian did not start either of the third-round matches against Norwich and Chelsea struggled, scoring one goal in more than  210 minutes against the second-tier side.

However, it seems far less risky to rest Hazard against Hull, who have major selection concerns.

Nigel Adkins cannot use any of his three Chelsea loanees - Michael Hector, Ola Aina and Fikayo Tomori - who are all defenders.

Right-back Aina and centre-back Hector started last Saturday's impressive 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest and there are not too many alternatives with defensive duo Michael Dawson and Ondrej Mazuch struggling with injuries.

Dawson, who trained on Tuesday, looks more likely to make it but Adkins may be reluctant to take risks with players who are integral to their battle against relegation.

The Tigers boss may be careful with striker Abel Hernandez, who has only just returning to full training, but his attacking options are more plentiful with strikers Will Keane, Fraizer Campbell and Nouha Dicko competing for places.

Hull played some good football in their win at Forest and created plenty of chances in addition to the two goals scored by Jon Toral and Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson.

But they go into battle with a makeshift back four and that could cost them against such a strong opponent.

Neither Olivier Giroud nor Alvaro Morata are fully fit and they will probably share the 90 minutes.

However, even at 70 per cent fitness the duo have the quality to do a lot of damage against a weak Hull defence.

Chelsea should score plenty of goals but it might not be one-way traffic and backup Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero could be denied a clean sheet.

Hull have some decent, inventive players in attacking midfield and forward positions and they can give their large contingent of travelling fans a crumb of comfort by getting on the scoresheet.

Chelsea to win 3-1

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