After being completely played out by a rarely brilliant Manchester United side last week, Chelsea will try to make amends for their disastrous result when they face Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-finals. Antonio Conte will be well aware of Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics and extremely well-organised setup this time, which has already taken them down once in the league earlier this season.
The possibility of Thibaut Courtois making it for the game is yet to be determined as the Belgian shot stopper is recovering from an ankle injury, which kept him out from the crucial clash against Manchester United. And the fact that the player incurred it during a basketball promotional shoot, hasn’t gone down well with the fans.
We expect Asmir Begovic to continue taking his place under the bar and it could be a wide crack at Chelsea’s defence. The Bosnian international has played seven times for the Blues this season in which he has conceded nine times. Though his FA Cup record remains quite positive (1 goal in 3 games), it won’t be easy against the Spurs.
The defence is expected to shift back to Conte’s most used one. The sudden unavailability of Marcos Alonso from the United game led Conte to start with Kurt Zouma at the back repositioning Azpilicueta to the left wing-back. It didn’t work as expected, bringing out the much-debated topic of Chelsea’s absence of Plan B. Alonso is expected to return from his flu and will take his place on the opposite flank of Victor Moses as a wing-back.
An injury free season and a schedule with ample time to recover from fatigue have been the key to Chelsea’s success and Conte will have to prove it wrong next season.
The central midfielders are expected to be Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante. The duo had a horrible game against United last week exposing their lack of creative attributes from deep midfield. While they suit perfectly in a setup for winning the ball well and distribute it to Hazard and Pedro, they become completely useless when Chelsea’s star players are marked closely.
Though Conte is expected to start with them, the former Gunner, Cesc Fabregas, is likely to make an appearance in the second half when opponent’s ploy is revealed.
Eden Hazard is having a rough week of criticism after his lacklustre display last game and will have to get on the scoresheet to set things right. Same goes for Pedro, who had an even worse game but wasn’t the pick because hardly many things are expected from him.
Diego Costa was the butt of all jokes after he failed to make an impact and tried colourful ways to attain it, which resulted in futility. He will spearhead the attack.
Hazard – Pedro
Alonso – Kante – Matic – Moses
Cahill – Luiz – Azpilcueta
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