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Chelsea, winners of the FA Cup eight times, are aiming to avoid another early exit in the third round when they host Preston North End at Stamford Bridge this Saturday.

This match marks their first encounter since January 2010, when Chelsea secured a 2-0 victory against Preston in the FA Cup fourth round at Deepdale.
Starting the year on a positive note, Chelsea finished the previous year with four wins in their last five matches across various competitions. Their recent 3-2 win against Luton Town in the Premier League saw Cole Palmer shine, contributing to all three goals by scoring twice and assisting Noni Madueke for his second goal in as many games. Despite Luton’s late surge with two goals in the final 10 minutes, Chelsea managed to secure the win.

Under Mauricio Pochettino’s guidance, Chelsea, currently 10th in the Premier League, earned a crucial victory, gaining ground as the four teams above them dropped points. They now trail Brighton & Hove Albion in seventh place by only three points.

Chelsea faces consecutive cup fixtures against Championship opponents, starting with Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash against Preston, a team they’ve defeated in nine of their last 15 meetings in all competitions. Last season, Chelsea suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to eventual winners Manchester City, marking their first third-round elimination in 25 years. The last time they faced consecutive third-round exits was between 1978-79 and 1980-81.

Despite this, Chelsea holds a strong track record in FA Cup ties against lower division teams, having advanced from their last 18 encounters since their 4-2 loss at home to League Two side Bradford City in 2014-15. With this history, Chelsea approaches the upcoming match against Preston with confidence.

Unlike Chelsea, Preston faced a disappointing close to 2023, suffering losses in three of their final four matches. Their start to 2024 was bleak too, falling 2-0 to Sunderland on New Year’s Day at the Stadium of Light.

Goals from Alex Pritchard and Nazariy Rusyn in the first half marked Preston’s 11th Championship defeat, causing them to drop to 14th in the table. Despite this, they’re only five points behind sixth-placed Sunderland, holding the last playoff position.

With just four wins in their last 19 second-tier games, pressure mounts on head coach Ryan Lowe. He’s eager to swiftly address the team’s struggles and turn their fortunes around.

Lowe has prioritized focusing on the Championship over the upcoming match against Chelsea, a team Preston hasn’t managed to beat in their previous three FA Cup encounters.

Preston’s FA Cup history is challenging, having lost nine of their last 11 matches in the competition and only reaching the fourth round three times in the last 20 years. Their track record against top-flight teams is particularly tough, with losses in 17 of their last 18 FA Cup ties against such opponents. Their only victory during this streak was a 4-1 win against Derby County in January 2008, making their prospects at Stamford Bridge this weekend seem daunting.

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