Chelsea v Tottenham preview: Mauricio Pochettino plays down Spurs' hopes
Last Updated: 22/04/17 4:13pm
Tottenham take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday with manager Mauricio Pochettino insisting his side go into the game as underdogs.
Chelsea's 2-0 loss at Manchester United last Sunday saw their lead over Tottenham at the top of the Premier League cut to just four points.
However, while Chelsea coach Antonio Conte says Spurs are a "great power in English football" and can no longer be considered "underdogs", his opposite number disagrees.
"I think if there is one favourite it's Chelsea because they are top of the table, because of the experienced players and the manager that they have," said the Argentine.
"We are talking about one of the best teams in Europe. But we are in a good moment, too, and we are hungry to challenge this type of team."
Chelsea, though, head into the game looking for a morale-boosting win over their London rivals which, as well as securing a place in the Wembley final next month, would also raise spirits and confidence for the title run-in.
And while Chelsea have been fortunate with injuries and illness this season, the timing of the current situation, with captain Gary Cahill set to miss the match with gastroenteritis, is far from ideal.
Cahill was admitted to hospital this week with gastroenteritis, with either John Terry, Kurt Zouma or Nathan Ake in line to fill in for the England international at the heart of the Chelsea back line.
Tottenham defender Danny Rose will not recover in time to be fit to face Chelsea. The left-back has begun training again after missing almost three months with a knee injury, but will not make the fixture.
Erik Lamela and Harry Winks are both out with hip and ankle injuries respectively, while goalkeeper Michel Vorm is also unavailable with a knee problem.
Meanwhile, Cahill will almost certainly miss the cup tie due to illness, but Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso are both expected to return after missing last weekend's loss at United due to an ankle problem and illness respectively.
The Blues have only lost one of their last five FA Cup semi-final ties, but it was in their last such appearance in 2013 (vs Manchester City).
Tottenham have lost each of their last six FA Cup semi-final appearances (1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2010 and 2012). Should they lose this, they'll set a record for consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeats (Chelsea also six between 1920 and 1966).
The last time these sides met in the competition was in the 2012 semi-final, with Chelsea running out 5-1 winners en route to lifting the trophy.
In all competitions, Spurs have won just two of their last 16 meetings with Chelsea (D7 L7), though they did win the last game between them 2-0 in January.
This will be the fourth meeting between these sides at the new Wembley, making it the joint-most played fixture at the ground since it re-opened in 2007 (Chelsea v Man Utd also four).
Since beating Chelsea in the League Cup final in 2008, Tottenham have won just one of their eight games at Wembley (D2 L5), beating CSKA Moscow in a Champions League group stage game in December.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have lost two of their last three games at the ground, with the victory coming against Tottenham in the 2015 League Cup final.
Son Heung-Min has been involved in more goals than any other player in this season's FA Cup (6 goals, 1 assist).
Pedro has scored four goals and assisted a further two in his three FA Cup appearances for Chelsea this season.
Tottenham players have scored a hat-trick in each of the last two rounds (Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min).
Chelsea lost their last match against United - they've not lost back to back games in all competitions since April 2016 (vs Swansea and Man City).
Tottenham meanwhile have won their last eight games in all competitions - they've only enjoyed a longer such run once in their history (13 games, April-October 1960).
This is such a tough one to call. With one win each against each other and so many similarities to how they function, I can see extra-time, potentially penalties.
You look at the differences in their line-ups and it's really tough to pick them apart. Both defences are so solid and then their attacking, creative players are also similar.
Eden Hazard and Dele Alli are the big two match winners here, not just in terms of goals but creating chances for their strikers.
However, it's probably that department where I edge towards Spurs, with Diego Costa going of the boil, willing to fight and scrap but not scoring goals, whereas you know Harry Kane will score if he gets a couple of chances.
Sky Bet find it almost impossible to pick a favourite for the first FA Cup semi-final, with Chelsea marginally shorter odds at 13/8 to win in 90 minutes and 10/11 to make the final. Tottenham will certainly have their backers at 9/5 as they arrive in red-hot form, while a draw and extra time is a 23/10 chance. The first goalscorer market is also a tight one, with Costa and Kane inseparable at 9/2 apiece, followed by Hazard (11/2), Alli and Heung-Min Son (both 13/2).