Chelsea and Spurs meet at Wembley with more than just an FA Cup final place at stake. With the league title race now as open as a Kevin Keegan coached defence, this is a London duel for the upper hand and to take another step towards an historic double – which is still on the table for both teams.
Antonio Conte’s team suffered last time out as they faced Manchester United, but will likely welcome back Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso for the cup semi. Alonso and Courtois’ absences unsettled a suspect defence further and should allow Chelsea to play their first choice back six. Even with their favoured line-up, though, Chelsea have been uncertain defensively for the majority of 2017.
Despite the organisation of their defence that has made them so effective this season, the Lilywhites will set up to expose Chelsea’s insecurities and will leave themselves vulnerable. Both teams to score is at 77/100 for this match, which is one of my picks for the game.
With a victory each in the league against each other this season, neither manager has a real upper hand or game plan to work to. Mauricio Pochettino gave Chelsea the toughest encounter of their season at White Hart Lane earlier in the campaign, however, as he starved the midfield of time on the ball. Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama will again play a key role in negating the effectiveness of N’golo Kante.
A tense first half can be expected with Conte and Pochettino tempted into packing the middle third. The match should then open up, though, which will give space to Eden Hazard and Pedro to expose a Spurs defence that was troubled by the pace of Sadio Mane earlier in the season. A draw at half time bet at 24/25 really leaps out.
Along those same lines, Chelsea to win it in extra time is at 14/1, a good price considering the success they have had bringing Cesc Fabregas into the game at times this season.
Although Diego Costa has really struggled for form since the rumours of a summer move to China, I expect him to up his game for this match and find space against a Spurs defence that will be especially wary of Hazard and Pedro. With his opposite number, Harry Kane, fresh and returning to the side, a 6/1 double on the pair of strikers to find the net at anytime has to be a bet to back in this match.