Chelsea vs Preston North EndFA Cup, KO: 17:30 Jan 6, 2024, Stamford Bridge
IT has been another painful Premier League season for Chelsea but they've had more joy in the knockout competitions and are still in with a chance of a trophy double as they kick off their FA Cup campaign at home to Preston North End.
Despite lavishing massive sums of money on their squad since Todd Boehly's takeover, the Blues look no closer to challenging England's elite and sit 10th in the league, a whopping 17 points behind leaders Liverpool.
But there have been flashes of potential, most notably a thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City, and Chelsea are favourites to reach the League Cup Final after being drawn with Championship side Middlesbrough in the semi-finals.
With that clash being held over two legs, it would be a surprise if Mauricio Pochettino's men don't make it to Wembley for a showdown with either Fulham or Liverpool.
Fans will be dreaming of a second march to England's national stadium in the FA Cup and Chelsea face another team from the second tier as Preston come to Stamford Bridge for this third-round tie.
A poor run has seen North End tumble down the Championship table, with four defeats in five games leaving them five points off the play-off places.
Facing Chelsea in London is no longer the tall order it used to be but it would still be a big surprise if Pochettino's side fell at the first hurdle in their FA Cup quest.
How the bookies view it
Recent head to head
These sides have only met twice since the 1980s and both those matches came in the FA Cup. Chelsea won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge back in 2002 then claimed a 2-0 victory in Preston eight years later.
Players to watch
Christopher Nkunku has only started once for Chelsea since returning to fitness but Pochettino might view this cup tie as the ideal chance to get him a full 90 minutes. The former RB Leipzig star has one goal from his four outings so far and is 23/20 with William Hill for anytime scorer.
Canadian midfielder Liam Millar has been among the goals of late for Preston North End, netting twice in his last four outings. The Basel loanee is 11/1 at SkyBet to add another to his tally at Stamford Bridge.
Anything else catch the eye?
Preston's lack of punch up front let our man Gabriel down in the defeat to Sunderland after he had backed BTTS and a Black Cats win with over 2.5 goals. If Chelsea field a strong side for this tie I can see them winning to nil and that pays evens at Unibet.
Pochettino's side should have most of the ball and pressure so it should pay to back them for a few corners. Chelsea -4 in that handicap pays evens with Bet365 while the same firm price over 10 match corners at 6/5.
Backing North End players for cards could also pay off and stopper Liam Lindsay has three yellows from his last six outings. The Scot is 3/1 at Bet365 to go into the book in this FA Cup tie.
This FA Cup match between Chelsea and Preston North End will be played on Jan 6, 2024 and kick off at 17:30. Check below for our tipsters best Chelsea vs Preston North End prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.