5th January sees the clash of the two richest clubs in England as Chelsea welcome local rivals Queens Park Rangers to Stamford Bridge for the first time in over 10 years.
Unfortunately, this most intriguing local rivalry, coupled with the rare sight of seeing someone richer than Roman sitting in the Directors box hasn’t quite captured the heart of the BBC, who have bizarrely decided that watching Manchester United take on Aston Villa (a fixture we can already watch twice every year) is the better choice for live television.
There is a real clash of similarities between these sides though – the relatively unknown managers: Avram Grant and Luigi de Canio, both of whom were suddenly entrusted with the job by their clubs, without anyone actually knowing who they were.
And surprisingly, they’ve done quite well. I mean, not fantastic – Jose Mourinho was probably a better manager for Chelsea, and you know, de Canio has suffered some shocking defeats against teams he really should be beating, but both are settling into a more successful pattern, and they’ll both be looking for a good cup run to boost their credentials.
Then you have the free-spending mentality, Chelsea have already splashed the cash on most players across the world in a bid to become the world’s first ‘superclub’, while QPR have been amassing the right players to go up – Ãkos Buzsáky, Hogan Ephraim, Kieran Lee, Gavin Mahon, Matthew Connolly, Patrick Agyemang and Fitz Hall in this January transfer window alone, and all could feature against Chelsea. The one possible loss for the game will be Michael Mancienne, as it is hugely doubtful that Chelsea would allow their youngster to play against them.
But again, its a signal of intent that both sides have that interest in developing young, local talent.
With Chelsea arguably having something of an ‘off-season’, and QPR well on form to move up, and motivated to battle to a victory in the London derby, this could well be the tie of the round. Anyone else hoping to see that upset?