FA Cup S/F Preview: Chelsea v Spurs
I feel a Semi coming on! - Not surprising given the way we are playing right now!
Chelsea can be outplayed. A win against the Blues on Saturday means more than being in another FA Cup Final it would confirm that Spurs are the best team in the Prem and it would place even more pressure on Chelski to win the League. For Spurs it's a chance to play this game like it's a home fixture cos, let's face it, Levy is still on the fence about playing at Wembley next season and so a good performance on Saturday will give us the chance to see if we can look more comfortable using Wembley as our temporary home. Wembley as a pitch works for and against us. For the quarter back passes of Dier and Alderwiereld it's a perfect width to play the long ball out to Walker and Son but for a high pressing game there is a lot more space to have to close. But! Will Poch play 3 at the back and will Poch stick with his cup side and leave Walker on the bench for Trippier and play Vorm instead of Lloris and go with 4 at the back? We have to get in around the back of their back 3 which is why Son and Walker have to play. Poch must surely get more success playing both wide men and trying to slip Kane and Alli in through the channels. At United the pace of Valencia, Lingard, Rashford and Young made life uncomfortable for Chelsea's back 3 and we need to do the same. You can bet Conte will come at us from the wide positions, especially against Davies, who he will see as our weakest link so expect Chelski attacks to be coming in from the left.
After a run of eight consecutive wins in the Premier League and two recent losses from Chelsea you have to say we are the form team going into this one. The 2012 Chelsea vs Spurs FA Cup Semi Final 5-1 defeat also needs to be avenged, so you could call this game a season decider! Ardiles stated on Twitter, 'Next Saturday's game is getting more and more important by the hour. We have to play our football. We are better than them.' We have to believe that! We have everything going for us in terms of momentum. The teams' chemistry has never been so good. Chelski were 10 points clear of us for ages, now it's down to just 4 points and even if we don't overhaul those final four points it's good to see the Blues sweat. Gary Cahill said after the United result: 'We weren't at the races and it makes us a bit angry. Let's hope it's an off day and it doesn't cost us too much. We have to react in the right way. We have to dust ourselves off and prepare for a huge semi-final, and then we go again with some important home games coming up. There`s only six games left, and we are still in a good position. We need to realise it`s not over, we need to realise there are points to play for, and we have to dig in. No one is going to give us this league, we have to work for it like we have done for the majority of this season. We reacted after we lost to Crystal Palace, we bounced back with two wins, so it's a similar thing. We have to go again. We are still in a great position.'
Conte's 3-4-3 formation has been a tough nut to crack this season but Jose Mourinho's masterplan showed how Conte's set up can be dissected. Eden Hazard spent most of the day at Old Trafford looking for a ball to play with because Ander Herrera kept him quiet. Can Dier manage Hazard better than Wanyama or should it be left to Dembele, Moussa knows Hazard better? If we silence their engine, Chelsea's attack will effectively be taken out of the game. Diego Costa will spend the game starting fires around the pitch and trying to get penalties to make up for the fact he has only scored 5 goals in the last 16 games and only 1 in the last 7 games and is blaming a lack of service for his lack of goals. Hopefully Costa will get himself sent off, that's why the Chelsea fans think he is a liability and don't want Conte to play him! Pedro is not firing so Conte may start Fabregas. There are some big questions we could ask of Chelsea in mid-field and up front. Fellaini, Herrera and Darmian neutralised Chelsea and so it must be that Wanyama, Dembele and Dier must do the same job.
We cracked the Chelsea code and spoilt the party for them at WHL in January but this will not be the same game. This is a one-off game so form may not come into it, this will be all about the occasion and who performs the best on the day. Conte is a leader, he almost plays the game with his players, his touchline antics replicate what is going on, on the pitch, so he can be an inspirational but, he can also be a downer for his team if he is unhappy with any of his players. Conte won eight Serie A titles as a player and manager, and one Champions League title as a player. However, it is as a runner-up that he remembers most, he was a three-time runner-up in the Champions League with Juventus so you can bet he will take defeat badly. Against United he was subdued and that crept on to the pitch to his players. The secret of getting under Chelsea's skin is to win the 50-50 ball, always be first to the ball and spoil Chelsea's passing game and keep Hazard quiet. There is no doubt when a team gets on top Conte and Chelsea's attitude changes. Spurs don't have to be the attackers for this game we can afford to be the counter attackers. Chelsea are arrogant, they think they have a right-of-passage to Silverware because they spend money to buy their trophies. They are not a club, they are a showroom full of expensive players! It would be unthinkable and unbearable to have Chelsea do the double because it will always be seen in the history books as the double over Spurs. If we can't catch them in the League, so be it, but, we have to win this one and set up an FA Cup Final with City proving to everyone that you can build the best team in the Premiership using young home grown talent without spending millions. It also means if City beat the Woolwich on Sunday we can get the video of that Ricky Villa goal dusted off to show what we did to City in 1981!