Demba Ba of Newcastle United tangles with John Terry of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at the Sports Direct Arena in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Chelsea have to make selections with the FA Cup Final in mind, but for Newcastle, this is a virtual cup final.
In Chelsea's last match against a Champions League contender, they played their second team. Between their fitness issues and their upcoming match against Barcelona, they didn't have much of a choice. On Wednesday, they face Newcastle United in a similar situation. They're dealing with various fitness concerns, and the FA Cup Final is on Saturday.
Gary Cahill and David Luiz are definitely out, so John Terry will likely be partnered in defense by Branislav Ivanovic, with Jose Bosingwa at right back. The Chelsea midfield selection might be determined by whether or not certain first choice players need a rest. Michael Essien and Frank Lampard both started on the weekend while John Obi Mikel was left out of the team and both Ramires and Raul Meireles sat. Expect at least two of those three players to come into the team against Newcastle. Up top, Roberto Di Matteo could opt for whichever one of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba he doesn't want to start at Wembley.
The Magpies might have been caught looking ahead to this game over the weekend. They were stunned by Wigan Athletic, who tore them to sheds in a 4-0 victory, with all of their goals coming in the first half. Newcastle played the same side that they usually play, so their performance is hard to explain.
Is Newcastle a paper tiger, or were they just focusing on the Chelsea match too early? They might produce a definitive answer either way on Wednesday night.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (U.S. - English), FOX Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet World (Canada)