Tottenham v Chelsea – Sunday 15th April – Wembley Stadium (17:00)
British football’s many fans will again head to Wembley Stadium on Sunday to witness the other semi-final, featuring two of the London giants, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. The two clubs featured in the first all-London FA Cup Final in 1967 but this will be the first time that Spurs and Chelsea have met each other in a FA Cup Semi-Final. Spurs have won the FA Cup eight times, most recently in 1991, while Chelsea’s six wins include three at the new Wembley – 2007, 2009 and 2010. Both clubs have featured in an impressive 37 semi-finals between them with Chelsea leading the way with 19 appearances under their belt.
Spurs have seemingly hit a brick wall in recent weeks and have achieved just one victory in the league in their last eight matches. That solitary win was a less than spectacular one against Swansea at the Lane. But, Tottenham have always had cup pedigree in them and with Chelsea eyeing Champions League glory, this should hand the initiative to their London rivals. Harry Redknapp’s men were humbled at home by an impressive Norwich City (1-2) outfit on Easter Monday and were held to a goalless draw by Sunderland last Saturday. The concern for Redknapp has to be the poor passing, coupled with minimal creating of chances in their last two matches. At the back Ledley King’s form must be even more concerning for Redknapp as his centre-half was found wanting on many occasions against The Canaries. But, his players don’t need added motivation against their arch-rivals and a much improved effort can be expected from Gareth Bale and company.
The Blues, despite having only tasted defeat once in eleven matches under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, aren’t playing their best football. They were second best for a long time until Benfica had a player sent off in their champions league last sixteen 2nd leg encounter at Stamford Bridge recently and were outplayed by Wigan Athletic last weekend. They were somewhat fortuitous to claim a point at Fulham after another lacklustre display on Easter Monday. Crucially, they have dropped eleven points from winning positions in the final ten minutes of their matches this season and with Spurs often finishing strongly; they could be in for a rough afternoon. There isn’t much doubt that Di Matteo has had plenty of fortune during his reign but he has re-ignited passion into his players and deserves that fortune. That said, for me he continues to persist with John Obi Mikel in front of the back four and the holding midfielder has looked way out of his depth for some time. His passing has left plenty to be desired and he just seems to lack the passion required at the top-level. This, coupled with the fact that adventurous winger Daniel Sturridge was relegated to the bench against Fulham in preference for an out of sorts Salomon Kalou could spell trouble for The Blues.
I am expecting a vastly improved performance from cup specialists Tottenham Hotspur who will surely target the stand-in left back of Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand. Spurs were the better side when the teams clashed at Stamford Bridge in a goalless draw in March and are tipped to make Chelsea feel the blues.