Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt is confident there will be no repeat of the thrashing the Reds took at the hands of Chelsea earlier in the season when they meet again in the FA Cup.
The sides reacquaint in the fifth round of the competition tonight, less than five months after their clash in the EFL Cup finished in a 6-0 thrashing for the hosts at Stamford Bridge.
This time the match takes place at Oakwell, the scene of a famous FA Cup shock in 2008 when the Blues were beaten in the quarter-finals by Kayode Odejayi’s goal, and the venue is not the only thing that has changed.
Both sides have new coaches, with Valerien Ismael having a major impact since taking charge of Barnsley in October with a ferocious style combining high pressing with quick, direct attack, while Thomas Tuchel is just beginning to get to grips with his Chelsea squad after replacing Frank Lampard last month.
As a result, Mowatt is confident that there will not be a repeat of the hammering the Championship side took at the beginning of the season when they lock horns again.
“If we beat Chelsea it would be a massive upset,” he told The72. “I don’t think anyone is expecting us to beat them, but we’ve got to believe that there’s an upset on the cards.
“I think a lot of things are different. They’ve got a new manager, we’ve got a new manager, it’s at our place, the pitch isn’t as good quality as at their place. Loads of things are different. I think it will be a totally different game to that.”
That is not to say that the Stamford Bridge annihilation is a complete irrelevance for Mowatt and co, however, and the skipper took some lessons in particular from the match.
As well as seeing first-hand just how clinical the top sides can be, he was also able to observe at close quarters the world-class players in his position.
Kai Havertz did the most damage with a hat-trick while Mason Mount was also involved in the Chelsea line-up, but the player who impressed Mowatt most was one who is currently not even in their squad, Ross Barkley.
The England international is now on loan at Aston Villa having struggled to cement a first-team spot at Stamford Bridge, but on that night he set a new benchmark for the former Leeds United man.
“All the lads, coming out of that game, couldn’t believe the level of some of the players that weren’t even in their starting line-up,” said Mowatt.
“Ross Barkley played that game and I thought he was unbelievable. He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever played against, and obviously he’s gone out on loan to Villa now so that shows the level of players that they’ve got there.
“I think you always want to play against the best players in your position. I think Mount was playing off the left that game, but he kept drifting in to make it even more difficult. But me personally, playing against Barkley made me realise how good a player he actually is.
“The way that he took the ball, was playing off both feet, and never looked like losing the ball, I think it was a joy to play against him really.”