Chelsea will be looking to take another step towards lifting the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in six years when they face English Premier League rivals Southampton in their semi-final tie at Wembley this afternoon.
The Blues already know that a date with former manager Jose Mourinho awaits them in next month’s final should they beat The Saints who are managed by former Chelsea favourite Mark Hughes. Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the competition’s other semi-final tie and a showpiece final between the two clubs who contested the 2008 UEFA Champions League final could be on the cards.
Chelsea go into their last four clash against The Saints in good form after a 3-2 smash and grab win at St Mary’s Stadium last weekend and an impressive 2-1 win at Burnley in midweek.
Manager Antonio Conte has no new injury concerns to contend with ahead of the match with long-term absentees David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu remaining sidelined with injury while Danny Drinkwater is also not fit to feature.
The Italian’s selection dilemma is the left wing-back position with first choice full-back Marcos Alonso currently suspended. Conte is likely to field either Emerson Palmieri or Davide Zappacosta in that position, although, it would be no surprise to see him pull a rabbit out of a hat and go against those two options. In attack, both Willian and Eden Hazard could be recalled to the starting XI.
Southampton arrive at the national stadium with their English Premier League status in real danger. Other than their progression in this season’s Emirates FA Cup, The Saints have won just once in 21 matches, a run dating back to the end of November.
Saints boss Mark Hughes is without defender Jack Stephens for the match as the player continues to serve a suspension. Midfield pair Sofiane Boufal and Mario Lemina will be handed late fitness tests while Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini could be considered for recalls to Southampton’s front line.
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 3pm and will be screened live on BT Sport 1.