Antonio Conte will be without just four first-team players when Chelsea face Southampton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday.
Chelsea will be aiming to join Manchester United in next month’s FA Cup final when they take on Southampton at Wembley in the second semi-final on Sunday. But, Antonio Conte has a pressing issue hampering his preparation for the crunch fixture.
Marcos Alonso is serving the second of his three-match ban, coincidentally handed for an incident in the game against Southampton last week. The Spaniard will be a major absentee, with his influence set to go missing on both ends of the pitch.
In his absence, Davide Zappacosta might be deployed as the left wing-back, even though Emerson Palmieri made a case for a start in the midweek win over Burnley. On the opposite flank, Victor Moses should be the choice once again, especially after his impressive display against Burnley.
The back-three is likely to see one change from the Burnley game as well, with Andreas Christensen returning to the lineup in place of Antonio Rudiger. The Danish defender should have Chelsea captain Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta alongside him in the three-man central defensive line, with Thibaut Courtois starting in goal once again.
Up ahead in midfield, N’Golo Kante is ever present whenever fit and available, and will start on Sunday. His partner in the middle is likely to be Cesc Fabregas, whose creativity will be needed against the disciplined Southampton side, instead of the robustness of Tiemoue Bakayoko.
The attack should see Antonio Conte ring in a few changes, with Eden Hazard and Willian set to be recalled after being rested against Burnley. Pedro should be an impact substitute once again like last weekend, with Alvaro Morata likely to drop down to the bench.
Olivier Giroud should retain his place in the starting lineup, with the Chelsea boss preferring a sole striker upfront instead of the midweek system that saw him deploy a strike partnership. Meanwhile, Conte, in his pre-match press conference, called on his side to play the game in the same spirit as in the last two games.
“If we go to play with the right team spirit, like against Burnley and the last 30 minutes at Southampton, we have a possibility of reaching the final, but my players have to know this. We only have one way to follow, to go on the pitch with the fire in our eyes and the right desire to reach the final. We have half the crowd with us and we must give them the best satisfaction.”