The Emirates FA Cup Semi-final preview: Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur Prediction – Wembley Stadium, London – 22 April, 2017 – 17.15 hrs
For Premier League leaders, Chelsea, the last one month seemed to have taken on a low gear after a blistering phase from October to March-mid. The Blues are distinctly on the back foot after conceding the second defeat from their previous four outings. One to Manchester United 0-2. The other embarrassingly enough to a struggling Crystal Palace 1-2.
Contrast this to a Tottenham side that has won all its previous nine outings. They have banged in close to 50 goals in this year itself. Even without their talismanic striker, Harry Kane. The Spurs were among the goals with the likes of Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen and Vincent Janssen all chipping in.
Chelsea Player News
The comforting news for Antonio Conte will be that his No. 1 choice goal keeper, Thibaut Courtois, should be back along with midfield stars, Marco Alonso and Cesc Fabregas. The reliable Kurt Zouma and N'Golo Kante will be expected to play a key role in the defence. Nemanja Matic and Azpilicueta have been well below their best and could give way to Fabregas and Alonso.
Tottenham Player News
For the Tottenham attack teeming with firepower, an extra bonanza has come in the form of attacking mid-fielder Mousa Dembele. The players' passing accuracy of close to 100 per cent and a propensity to find scoring opportunities have made him a scourge of many a defence. For the Chelsea back line of Zouma, David Luiz, Cahill and Moses this could be bad news.
But for Antonio Conte, having Courtois back from injury in place of Asmir Begovic will give him comfort at the back. Moreover, the return of Fabregas and Alonso in the upper mid-field space would mean a Chelsea side in full strength. Chelsea's recent FA Cup wins have come in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and while Tottenham have as many as 8 Cup titles to their name, they haven't won this event since 1991. This is probably their best chance in a long time to do so. Bookmakers are even-stevens as far as wagering odds on the April 23 clash go. One could be looking at a score line of 2-1 from any one of the victors.