14th April 2012
The FA semi-final at Wembley will be a massive game for both Tottenham and Chelsea, as the London clubs battle to save this season. Both sides are in danger of missing out on a Premier League top 4 finish and the FA Cup trophy would be a perfect cure for what could happen between now and the end of the league campaign.
Chelsea missed the opportunity to catch Tottenham in the Premier League standings after Spurs had suffered a shock defeat to Norwich seeing that the Blues could only muster a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage. Nevertheless, Roberto Di Matteo’s side closed the gap behind their rivals to just two points and they now have a realistic chance of securing Champions League qualification. Before Chelsea face Arsenal at the Emirates they will play two Cup games that could prove decisive for the outcome of the season, with FA Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham scheduled just three days before the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Roberto Di Matteo insists he will resist temptation to rest his key players for the mouth-watering tie with Barcelona, but he is not without problems before the short trip to Wembley. Branislav Ivanovic starts his three-match ban, while John Terry and Ashley Cole are both injury doubts. Ryan Bertrand and Oriol Romeu are definitely out of contention.
Tottenham are in similar situation as their arch rivals in that this is a make or break time for Harry Redknapp’s side. Even if Spurs spent much of the league campaign very close to the top of the standings, they are now tied on points with fifth-placed Newcastle and in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification. While the Premier League campaign remains a priority, Harry Redknapp will want to make it to the FA Cup final as well, especially with Manchester rivals and Arsenal already out of the competition. That will be no easy task now that Spurs go into the game on the back of the shocking defeat to Norwich and there are no doubts they will have to work hard for a positive result at Wembley. Numerous selection problems only add insult to injury, with Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and Niko Kranjcar all out of contention. Ledley King is expected to miss out after starting the Norwich game, but Scott Parker should return.
There will be a lot at stake when the two sides meet at Wembley and the pressure could prevent the rivals from showing all they’ve got. A tight game between two evenly matched teams looks on the cards and Tottenham and Chelsea might just cancel each other out.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 12/5