Chelsea were given a brutal reality check against Liverpool on Sunday but it shouldn’t have any impact here whatsoever. Frank Lampard will undoubtedly seek to use his full squad and with 10 players starting both of their opening league fixtures, expect wholesale changes to the starting line-up.
However, the back-up options are hardly poor and with the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham all in contention, it’s easy to see why Barnsley start as rank outsiders.
The visitors managed to stave off relegation last season by a single point and only survived because Wigan were docked 12 points.
They haven’t started the new season well either with defeats in both of their opening Championship fixtures this term, though they have beaten fellow second-tier sides Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough in this competition.
Andreas Christensen saw red against Liverpool and misses out here, even if he would have been replaced for this fixture anyway, but Barnsley have their own concerns at centre-back with both Michal Helik and Mads Anderson seeing red last time out.
Meanwhile, Bambo Diaby (another centre-back) also remains suspended having failed a doping test back in January, leaving Gerhard Struber a little short of options in that department.
Chelsea To Win And Both Teams To Score
Chelsea have won nine of their past 13 at Stamford Bridge, as the exceptions came against Arsenal, Man Utd, Bayern and Liverpool. In fact, excluding those sides, as well as Man City and Spurs, Chelsea have kept six consecutive clean sheets at the Bridge in 2020 so far.
However, given the changes at the back, we wouldn’t be confident of another shutout here, even if much-maligned goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will make way for veteran Willy Caballero.
Barnsley are W7-D4-L16 on the road since the start of last season now, but they’ve only failed to score in seven of 23 road trips over the past 12 months.
Given Chelsea have conceded in eight of their past 10 at home in this tournament, including concessions in all four against teams outside the Premier League (Bristol Rovers, Nottingham Forest, Derby and Grimsby), the home win and both teams to score holds some appeal.
Ross Barkley To Score Anytime
With the usual suspects absent from the starting line-up, Ross Barkley looks a sound pick in the goalscorers market after bagging four goals from six appearances in domestic cups last term.
He’s made appearances from the bench in Chelsea’s opening games, but with the Blues focusing primarily on attack during the transfer window, he’ll be desperate to remind Lampard of his own qualities.