Chelsea are up against Southampton for the second time in eight days, as they travel to Wembley on Sunday for an FA Cup semi-final. The Blues pretty much know that the cup is their last chance of taking anything from this season. It would put the Blues into the Europa League group stage, which isn’t exactly the greatest prize, but it’s still something. Given the competitive nature of the Premier League, the Blues will want to secure a place in that competition to boost their hopes of making their way back to the Champions League down the line.
Of course, in the shorter term Antonio Conte is simply aiming to win another trophy at Stamford Bridge, adding a line to his CV before his likely summer job-hunt. The Italian has endured a testing second season at the club, but he can at least tick something off his checklist this term. The former Juventus boss failed to win the Italian Cup in his spell in Turin, something the club have done every year since he left. Can he end his wait for a domestic cup win, redeeming himself after last season’s defeat to Arsenal in the final?
Team News: Can Blues Book Wembley Return?
Chelsea could possibly have David Luiz back for this weekend’s game, although his form this season and issues with Conte mean he probably won’t feature anyway. The Blues have a concern up front now that Olivier Giroud is pushing for a place in attack, while Alvaro Morata has struck up some form in recent weeks. Settling on one of that duo is going to be the biggest choice for Conte. Elsewhere, he should just go along with the first choice side, although with Marcos Alonso in line for a ban we’re set to see either a huge game for Emerson Palmieri, or Cesar Azpilcueta shunted out to the left.
Southampton don’t have any major issues going into this weekend’s clash. They’ve got Jack Stephens ruled out through suspension, but aside from that Mark Hughes has a full strength side to pick from. The only issue for them is that there’s been so few standout players in this Saints squad this season that settling on a side for such a huge occasion is bound to be difficult. The Saints caused problems by lining up with a 3-4-3 system last weekend, and they have little reason to change that for Sunday’s encounter.
The Saints have suffered back to back 3-2 defeats against London sides, and they’ll be out to avoid a similar scoreline here. Hughes has taken over at St Mary’s, and his first move was to guide them through to the last four of this competition, with an impressive win over Wigan. The Saints have actually been much better under Hughes, despite the negative spell he had at Stoke this term and his early struggles for results with Southampton.
However, the Saints have won just one league clash since November, which suggests that their board waited too long before making a managerial change. They are out to improve their form, with the cup proving to be a bit of a release for the struggling side this season. Will they use their Wembley clash as a chance to rescue a potentially disastrous campaign, or are Hughes and co. going to play to form with yet another defeat on Sunday?
Chelsea v Southampton Head to Head
The Blues added to their strong run of form against the Saints with a victory last Saturday, although they had to come from two goals behind in the process. After five straight wins against the south coast outfit, the Blues will be expected to rack up another victory when the pair clash at Wembley on Sunday. However, can it live up to the drama of the latest meeting?
- Southampton 2-3 Chelsea, April 2018
- Chelsea 1-0 Southampton, Dec 2017
- Chelsea 4-2 Southampton, Apr 2017
- Southampton 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
- Southampton 1-2 Chelsea, Feb 2016
- Both Teams to Score – Evens with Ladbrokes
- Olivier Giroud to Score – 11/10 with Betfred
Chelsea’s victory at St Mary’s seems to have had an impact on the betting here, as the Blues are priced up at 4/9 with Bet365 to win within 90 minutes in this clash. The Saints are 13/2 outsiders with Coral, while the Premier League strugglers are priced at 7/2 with Betfair to force a draw against the recently dethroned champions. Antonio Conte’s side have clearly landed a plum draw in the last four, as they’re 1/5 with BetVictor to reach the final through any means. On the other hand, the Saints are 11/4 with Bet365 to qualify for a Wembley return.
After last weekend’s 3-2 clash at St Mary’s, we obviously have to fancy goals in this one. That game showed how poor the Blues are defensively, and they don’t exactly have a Plan B to switch to. We’re set to see another clash of two sides playing 3-4-3, and that hasn’t worked for the Blues for much of this season. Going man for man has caused problems for the Stamford Bridge side in recent matches, so we’re expecting both teams to score in Sunday’s semi, which is nicely priced at best odds of evens with Ladbrokes.
As we mentioned earlier, Giroud or Morata is Conte’s big decision for this game, but who will he settle on? In our eyes, it has to be the Frenchman after his two goal salvo against the Saints last weekend. He has that form backing him, along with 14 FA Cup goals since moving to England. With multiple wins in this competition to his name already, we see Giroud impressing at Wembley, so we’re backing him to terrorise this Saints defence yet again, as we’re going with the French forward to score at any time at 11/10 with Betfred.