Chelsea may have seen nearly half their team depart the pitch for premature showers in their FA Cup replay last night, but there was to be no denying the Blues as they squeezed past a battling Canaries side on penalties – to book a home tie with Newcastle United in the fourth round. A Newcastle United side who haven’t known a fifth round draw since 2006.
As we all know, the Magpies have been starved of success to the point where a Carabao Cup win, the feeblest of domestic tournaments, would almost be worthy of a bank holiday.
The arrival of Mike Ashley in 2007 has done little to quench the thirst for silverware – if anything his stifling reign has only served to exacerbate the problem. Despite his words to the contrary where he intimated he wouldn’t quit the club unless a trophy was won, this is only the fifth time he’s overseen the club progress past the FA Cup third round.
Rafa Benitez has injected faint optimism, as evidenced by the Geordies voting with their feet and showing up in record numbers for their FA Cup tie with Luton Town – smashing the numbers of any previous cup crowd during Ashley’s cumbersome tenure.
However, the man who once made a Champions League winner out of Djimi Traore can only do so much – and a trip to west London should prove a bridge too far. The Spaniard would dearly love to turn over his former employers – at a place where he was made to feel unwelcome from the moment he stepped through the door.
But the Magpies have returned empty-handed from their last five trips to Stamford Bridge, and have won just twice since 1986.
Whether old boy Andy Carroll will be leading the line for the Blues when the fixture takes place on the 28th of January is anybody’s guess, but one thing is certain – the Magpies will need their owner to empty his pockets if they are to stand any chance of seeing their cup adventure last until spring.