FA Cup semi-finals: Can Spurs end their Blues jinx?
When Tottenham and Chelsea square up to each another, a passionate encounter is always guaranteed.
Put on the pedestal of an FA Cup semi-final, the occasion’s glamour and relevance multiplies to an epic level.
The clash at Wembley is one half of a derby double header in the last four of this year’s competition.
Liverpool have already booked their return to Wembley, now it’s the turn of the two capital clubs to do battle under the famous arch in a weekend that is providing enough sub-plots, statistics and storylines to keep commentators and historians busy and entertained.
Between them, Spurs and Chelsea have won the FA Cup 14 times but, while the Blues have taken home the trophy four times this century, their close rivals have not claimed the crown in more than 20 years. For Spurs, victories over Chelsea away from their White Hart Lane home have been few and far between.
Since February 1990, Tottenham’s only success against the Blues on the road came in the 2008 League Cup final. If Spurs are going to progress, they will need to end that jinx against their near neighbours.
To do so they will have to beat a team managed by a man who has broken records at English football’s headquarters - Roberto Di Matteo.
Back in 1997 the Italian, now the caretaker-manager at the Bridge, thundered home a 30-yard drive after just 42 seconds of Chelsea’s FA Cup final showdown with Middlesbrough.
That strike remained the fastest ever scored at the old Wembley, although in 2009 Louis Saha took just over half that time to fire Everton into an early lead against Chelsea and etch his name into FA Cup folklore.
On Sunday evening, the two record holders come face to face in opposing dug-outs - Di Matteo is attempting to mastermind his team’s sixth final appearance since the turn of the millennium, with Saha looking to fire Spurs towards FA Cup glory.
FA CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Both games at Wembley Stadium
Saturday 14th April (kick-off 12:30)
Liverpool 2-1 Everton
Sunday 15th April (kick-off 18:00)
Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea
The FA Cup final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 5th May