Chelsea and Spurs set for Wembley FA Cup showdown

Blues could be without a key defender as the London teams battle it out in their FA Cup semi-final

Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs
(Image credit: Mike Hewitt/Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Premier League title race will take a turn into a fresh arena this weekend, with leading pair Chelsea and Spurs facing off in their FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley.

While Saturday's game will have no material effect on which side lifts the Premier League trophy at the end of the season, it has been touted as a hugely significant one psychologically after the Blues' recent top-flight wobbles. The Daily Telegraph's Jason Burt notes that "mind games are an overblown concept in sport but psychological blows are not".

Tottenham's win last weekend, coupled with Chelsea's defeat to Manchester United, leaves just four points separating the two sides as they move their focus to qualification for the FA Cup final on 27 May.

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Antonio Conte looks set to welcome back Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso into his line-up after they missed last Sunday's defeat at Old Trafford with injury and illness respectively. However, the Telegraph reported on Thursday night that Gary Cahill is a surprise doubt for the game after spending two nights in hospital with a "mystery illness".

The Blues have only lost one game all season – against Spurs in January – when fielding their first-choice "back six" of Thibaut Courtois, Alonso, Cahill, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses. But problems, and defeats, have occurred when even one member of the defence is unavailable.

Dele Alli scored both goals when the north Londoners beat Conte's men just after the turn of the year, with Frank Lampard telling the BBC before this weekend's game: "It is a big ask for Chelsea to nullify Alli completely on Saturday but it will be critical to the outcome of the game.

"For that to happen, it will be down to whoever plays in midfield for Chelsea – potentially N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic – to stop the service into him."

Spurs, for their part, have no new injury concerns ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. Danny Rose remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Erik Lamela and Harry Winks are out for the season with their respective fitness woes.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed before the match: "If there's a favourite, it's Chelsea." He added: "When you compare the players who have won trophies, Chelsea have players who won the World Cup. Our players have won nothing."

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