Our football writer previews the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Tottenham.
Chelsea take on London rivals Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with a final against either Arsenal or Manchester City on offer for the victors. The two teams are battling it out in a two-horse race for the Premier League title, with Antonio Conte’s side boasting a four-point lead over Spurs.
The two sides have played each other twice this season with both teams winning their home matches. At Stamford Bridge, Conte’s side were 2-1 victors thanks to goals from Pedro and Victor Moses, while two goals from Dele Alli were enough for Spurs to enjoy a 2-0 win in January.
FA Cup, Semi-Final | Saturday 22 April | Wembley Stadium | 18:15
To Win (90 Mins)
Chelsea 33/20 | Draw 22/10 | Tottenham 33/20
Chelsea remain on course to become the first top-flight team to win a league and cup double since Carlo Ancelotti’s 2009-10 side. This will be the Blues’ 21st semi-final appearance. They’ve won the FA Cup seven times and their record at Wembley reads W8 L4 since it was reopened in 2007.
The Blues beat Manchester United 1-0 in a fiery quarter-final clash last month to get to this stage, before comfortable wins against Peterborough United of League One and Championship sides Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds, respectively.
Chelsea fans are relishing the chance to add the FA Cup to what seems like a second Premier League parade in three years. The Blues are favourites for this clash, having lost only two of their last 16 meetings against Spurs.
Conte’s team are packed with world class players and the Italian will need them at their best. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa will be the main players that Spurs need to watch closely. Hazard is capable of providing moments of magic while Costa gives the team an unshakeable focal point in attack.
Chelsea will be sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and wing-back Marcos Alonso who missed last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester United in the Premier League through injury.
Tottenham are having a strong season and are currently second in the league. Mauricio Pochettino’s side earned the Blues’ respect by ending their long winning run with a superb performance back in January. Spurs will relish the chance of a victory over their London rivals because it would rob Conte of the double while setting themselves up for a glorious Wembley finale.
Pochettino has yet to win a trophy as a manager and the FA Cup would be a prestigious personal moment for him. It would also represent Spurs’ first trophy since they beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup in 2008, and a first FA Cup since 1991.
Pochettino’s side have enjoyed a fairly easy ride to this stage, having beaten Aston Villa, Wycombe Wanderers and Fulham before last month’s 6-0 demolition of Millwall secured their semi-final status. Spurs will be praying that their Wembley woes don’t go on after they were knocked out of the Champions League with two home defeats at Wembley earlier this season. They also failed to beat Gent in the Europa League, earning a 2-2 draw.
Spurs have won their last eight matches leading up to this game and have been boosted by the return of talisman Harry Kane. The prolific striker has scored 20 goals in 23 games in the Premier League this season – and no player has a better goals-per-game record in games involving clubs from the capital since 1992.
Verdict: Draw (22/10)
A tight affair is expected with a draw tipped at 22/10. Both Teams to Score is another good bet at 8/10, but I think the teams will be all square in 90 minutes.
Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets