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Our best bets for Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday
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3pts Sam Hutchinson to be shown a card at 3/1

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Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday (Stamford Bridge, 1800 GMT, BBC One)

They've already made the final of the Carabao Cup, and now Chelsea will be looking to progress in English football's other key cup competition as they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to Stamford Bridge.

It took penalties to separate the Blues and Tottenham on Thursday, although Maurizio Sarri will be eager to ensure that they get this result wrapped up in 90 minutes against a team in the division below.

Wednesday's away form has been a bit hit-and-miss throughout their Championship campaign - although they'll still be up for this game backed by a strong away following.

This fixture is also notable for the expected debut of Chelsea's new striker in Gonzalo Higuain. He completed his loan switch from AC Milan in the week, although missed the registration deadline for that clash with Spurs.

They'll be wanting to give Higuain minutes to get him up to speed in this Chelsea side, and an FA Cup game against lower opposition is the perfect environment in which to do just that.

You'd expect him to be a handful for the Owls' defence as a whole, but more specifically I'm particularly intrigued to see if a bit of a battle emerges between the Argentinian striker and Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson.

Wednesday's defensive midfielder recently returned to the squad following a spell on the sidelines through injury. He's only managed nine Championship appearances, although has been a regular feature in the side since a managerial change.

Sam Hutchinson (right) looks to stop Harvey Barnes
Sam Hutchinson (right) looks to stop Harvey Barnes

His style of play is that of midfielder who likes to make his presence known. He isn't afraid to commit to a tackle and has a bit of a reputation for his no-nonsense approach when looking to win the ball.

Having watched their recent away games against Hull and West Brom, Hutchinson has caught the eye with tackles and fouls in the middle of the pitch. Those two games could prove quite a good guide, given that the Owls were on the back foot for lengthy periods.

Assistant manager Steve Agnew summed up the midfielder well in his pre-match press conference by stating: "He's aggressive and determined and we have been really, really pleased with his performances."

It is the 'aggressive' part that highlights why 3/1 on a card is good value in a game such as this. We know the talent of this Chelsea side and the quality even when they rotate their squad for Cup competitions.

With the greatest of respect to Wednesday, Chelsea will be one step ahead of them throughout the 90 minutes - that's inevitable when any of the Premier League's top-six sides face a team from the Sky Bet Championship.

The gulf in class should signal a high foul count for the visitors - as was the case in those recent league away games. With a Premier League referee in Andre Marriner in charge, the Wednesday side of the yellow cards column should be longer than that of the hosts.

The best price of 1/4 on a Chelsea win tells you all you need to know on how this game is expected to go. Sarri believes they turned a corner with that victory over Tottenham and that should translate into another one in front of their own supporters.

While it may be tempting to think this will be a dominant Chelsea performance throughout the 90 minutes, they were level at the break in Cup ties against Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Liverpool this season so the half-time result being a draw is worth considering at 15/8, but the best bet by a mile here is the one recommended at the top.

Score prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)

Best bet: Sam Hutchinson to be shown a card at 3/1

Gonzalo Higuain is close to a move to Chelsea
Gonzalo Higuain has joined Chelsea

Opta facts

  • This is the 124th meeting in all competitions between Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday but first since April 2000, a 1-0 win for the Owls at Hillsborough in the Premier League.
  • Sheffield Wednesday have been eliminated from eight of their 10 FA Cup ties with Chelsea, last knocking them out in the 1965-66 semi-final.
  • Chelsea have progressed from 47 of their last 49 FA Cup ties against non-Premier League sides, losing in March 2008 against Barnsley and January 2015 against Bradford City.
  • Sheffield Wednesday are facing the holders of the FA Cup for the first time since the 1955-56 campaign, when they lost 1-3 against Newcastle in the third round.
  • Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has had a hand in seven goals in his last four FA Cup appearances against sides from outside the top-flight (5 goals, 2 assists), scoring in each of his last four appearances, including one for Chelsea against Hull.

Odds correct at 1400 GMT (25/01/19)

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Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages1

Paper Talk: Juve see De Ligt

Maurizio Sarri could be handed the perfect welcome gift at Juventus as they chase Matthijs de Ligt's, which leads our rundown of today's back pages.

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