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Capital One Cup match preview: Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers

Yet another away defeat at the hands of Wolves brought Bolton back to reality from their first win of the season one week ago. They now face the daunting test of visiting Premier League leaders Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.

Bolton and Chelsea renew acquaintances  tomorrow night for the first time since the Whites' were relegated from the Premier League
Bolton and Chelsea renew acquaintances tomorrow night for the first time since the Whites' were relegated from the Premier League
Clive Mason

Just three seasons ago Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers was a regular season match-up that wouldn't have Wanderers fans batting an eyelid. But ever since then things have changed dramatically. The Blues have become European champions for the first time, while The Whites have paled into a shadow of their former selves and linger in the lower echelons of the Championship table. As a result, the trip to Stamford Bridge in the Capital One Cup third round is now a big deal for Bolton.

Wanderers head into this massive task on Wednesday night having continued their run of losing every away league match this season. No-one is realistically expecting anything other than a comfortable Chelsea win, but the least we should expect of Wanderers is a spirited performance and to make Chelsea work for it. And if we get lucky we could grab a goal and a famous victory.

Our hosts Chelsea have been largely impressive this season, putting six goals past Everton and scoring four second-half goals against Swansea City. These results don't bode well for a Bolton defence that has looked shaky at best in the Championship, even though Chelsea will likely field a second string that probably won't feature the in-form Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.

In reality that second eleven of players will all be internationals, and could include the likes of Andre Schurrle, Oscar, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba. It could well also involve former Bolton favourite Gary Cahill, which will be a nice touch. So to say Wanderers will up against it at the Bridge is a massive understatement.

One of the big worries for Wanderers is where the goals are coming from. If you take away Joe Mason's four league goals - of which three were in the same match - the rest of the team has only contributed three goals in eight matches. His strike partner Craig Davies is yet to score from open play this season, whereas Jermaine Beckford has only scored two goals against League Two strugglers Crewe. Our other two goals were both scored by centre-halves, David Wheater and Matt Mills - with no goals contributed from midfield.

It's safe to say Chelsea away isn't massively important in the wider scheme of things, but it will be a great evening out for the Wanderers faithful and stranger things than Bolton springing a surprise have happened. Just this week I watched back highlights of Wanderers going to the Allianz Arena and getting an improbably 2-2 draw against the mighty Bayern Munich.

In terms of the team it remains to be seen whether Dougie Freedman will ring the changes, if he's even got the squad to do so. I would expect him to stick with the usual suspects, in the hope they can gain some confidence by putting in a spirited performance. However, if it backfires and we end up getting hammered by Chelsea then you have to worry about the effect that could have on squad morale and belief.

Freedman's pre-match press conference didn't give a lot away, as he said: "We will rotate our squad. It's a chance for some of our more senior players to get some valuable game time." Make of that what you will, but surely our more senior players have been getting game time all season so he won't be rotating his squad. Who knows what that comment means.

Games like this are also a chance to give some youngsters a taste of the big time. Enigmatic winger Rob Hall scored two goals and made another for the Development Squad on Monday night, so surely it's time Dougie gave him a chance in the first team?

I for one am hugely excited at visiting Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. Not only is it just down the road from my office - very convenient - but It's also another ground to tick off my list. I'm fully expecting Bolton to get torn apart, but a tiny little bit of me senses that perhaps we could pull off a surprise. Although whether Dougie has what it takes to get one over on Jose Mourinho remains highly unlikely.