Tim Stoodley looks ahead to Sunday's trip to Chelsea.
Peterborough United head to Stamford Bridge, and the home of the Premier League leaders, in what is gearing up to be the most hotly-anticipated fixture in recent seasons, as they face Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday (3pm).
The boys in fluorescent yellow travel to Chelsea, who are some 52 league standings above them, in a game that will really capture the magic of the FA Cup. A giant-killing is always possible in this competition and this platform gives a talented squad the opportunity to showcase themselves to the world.
Chelsea's current stunning form is well documented. They stormed to a record-equalling 14 straight wins before their disappointing 0-2 defeat to Tottenham in a league match on Tuesday night.
Since Antonio Conte took the helm, he has switched the Blues to a European-style 3-4-3, with the two wide midfielders covering a large distance as they track back and support the three orthodox centre-backs, while allowing the creative midfield players to feed the front trio, usually spearheaded by the in-form Diego Costa. Of course, personnel and tactics are likely to differ against Posh, as Chelsea will perhaps look at the opportunity to utilise more squad-rotated players.
One such player, who may well feature, is 22 year-old Nathaniel Chalobah, who has spent most of the season warming the bench. He is a well known talent though and is versatile in his ability to play in several positions, from a more defensive midfield role to supporting the attacks. He's very akin to Peterborough's own Chris Forrester in terms of his midfield presence. Chalobah has only played 71 minutes for his side this season, so could Conte see this as an opportunity to stretch the young Englishman's legs?
Another player who has struggled to feature this campaign is new signing Michy Batshuayi. He moved from Marseille in the summer but a mixture of injury and the amazing scoring form of Diego Costa, means Michy has been out-of-favour. Conte confirmed in Friday's press conference that he will start.
Two more names that may appear in the starting eleven are both young English talents, in the form of Temitayo Aina and Dominic Solanke. Both have featured in match day squads this term, with Aina actually getting some minutes under his belt, albeit as a late substitute at home to Bournemouth.
The former Juventus and Italy manager, Conte, has a fantastic win ratio of 78% in the 23 games he's overseen at the club. That's his highest personal winning record across all of his previous six clubs. His opposite number, Grant McCann, boasts a slightly more conservative 43% winning record.
Taking charge of this one is Select Group referee Kevin Friend. Mr Friend has officiated 17 games this campaign, predominately in the Premier League, where he's dished out an average of 4 yellows a game. Interestingly, he's not shown red at all this campaign. Despite being a Premiership referee, the last time he officiated either of these teams was actually Peterborough, back in January of 2016. Again in the FA Cup, but this time against West Brom. That game finished 2-2 while Michael Smith and Lee Angol saw yellow. He officiated Chelsea just three weeks before that game, but didn't produce a single caution for the Blues.
Peterborough do have recent history away to Chelsea and again it was in the FA Cup third round. Unfortunately for Posh, that game finished 5-0 to the hosts, back in 2001. Interestingly, there's only one other fixture on record for these two sides, and that was also a thumping as Chelsea, again at home and again in the FA Cup, beat 'Boro 5-1 in the 1964/65 season. It promises to be a brilliant experience as Peterborough fans head to Stamford Bridge. It's a totally enclosed stadium, with an electric atmosphere, and with both home and away allocations selling out, it promises to be a noisy affair! There is some considerations to take care of with regards to travel this weekend though, parking around the ground is more-or-less non-existent and there is planned strikes on the tube. The advice would be to research your method of travel and allow plenty of time to get to the ground. Check the TFL website for details regarding the tube strikes and plan car-parking ahead of time. Those who plan to drive to Cockfosters tube station and then park, should be warned that Tottenham play Aston Villa later in the day, and Cockfosters is a very common parking spot for Spurs fans, so again, leave early and arrive in time. Extra carriages have been added to some train services for the fans leaving Peterborough train station, but it would be worth checking with local operators on the day, for any delays or service interruptions.
When you do get to the ground, it's also worth noting that all of the pubs in the nearby vicinity are quite partisan and will not welcome away fans. Fans from other clubs advise to visit the Earl's Court area, which is just a couple of tube stops away from Fulham Broadway station. The Courtfield Tavern, which is directly opposite Earl's Court tube station, is a particular favourite with away fans, but as you're in London, expect to pay more for a pint, upwards of £5.20.
Jermaine Anderson and Jack Baldwin are the unlucky ones who miss out on this massive game, through injury. Junior Morais is cup-tied, but fans favourite Martin Samuelsen will be looking to hold down their place in the team after featuring against Scunthorpe. Fellow new-signing Dominic Ball could feature, and if selected, would make his debut at Stamford Bridge.
The key figures:
League positions; Chelsea - 1st (Premier League) Peterborough United - 8th (League One)
Last five; Chelsea -WWWWL Peterborough United - WWDDD
Previous meeting; 06/01/2001 (FA Cup Third Round) - Chelsea 5-0 Peterborough United
Average attendances (2015/16); Chelsea - 41,500 Peterborough United - 5,447
Top Scorer (league); Chelsea - Diego Costa (14) Peterborough United - Gwion Edwards (7)
Interesting fact: Chelsea (along with Arsenal) were the first ever teams to wear numbered shirts during a game. This was on the 25th August 1928.
This game is completely sold out, both home and away, so no tickets are available for the match.
Those that have missed out on the opportunity to see the game, can still take part in the crowd atmosphere, courtesy of the beam-back service at The ABAX Stadium. A big screen is due to be erected in front of the Motorpoint Stand, allowing over 1,000 supporters to gather and watch the action. Tickets are on sale for this at £5 for season ticket holders, £7 for those who purchased a ticket for the Notts County replay match and £10 for general admission. Hospitality packages are also available. Tickets can be purchased at www.theposhtickets.com, via the Ticketmaster hotline 0844 847 1934* and in person at the ABAX Stadium Box Office.
*calls cost 7ppm plus your network access fee.