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Chelsea v Tottenham: Son can shine in stalemate

Mauricio Pochettino - can he end Spurs' semi-final jinx?
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Dave Tindall says it may take longer than 90 minutes to find a winner in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs, which is available to watch on Betfair Live Video...


"When going beyond very pure basic form, which is hugely impressive it has to be said, the case for Spurs starts to show holes."

Back the draw in Chelsea v Tottenham @ [3.45]

Chelsea v Tottenham
Saturday 22 April, 17:15
Live on BBC 1


Chelsea


Had this game been played earlier in the season, Antonio Conte's men would probably have looked shoo-ins. Between the start of October and the end of January, Chelsea won 17 times in 19 starts.

They go into this one having lost two of their last four Premier League games. If the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace was a shock to be easily brushed off, the 2-0 reverse at Man Utd brought a layer of doubt that had previously looked inconceivable.

The Blues didn't have a single shot on target in that game and, having looked home and hosed in the title race, Spurs are now within four points.

Going to Wembley, it's Tottenham who are the team of the moment. Chelsea, meanwhile, are having fingers pointed at them and their bottle questioned. How quickly things change.


Tottenham

Tottenham have won their last eight games. The cockerel is strutting. Ambitious thoughts abound. The dreamers are even letting their minds wander to a repeat of the 1960/1 double season.

Having reignited the title race, Spurs now get a timely opportunity to look Chelsea in the eye, swing a punch and weaken their previously static health bar further.

The feeling that we're coming for you in the Premier League would certainly be magnified if Tottenham were to dump Chelsea out of the FA Cup so it adds another dimension to Saturday's Wembley showdown.

And yet Mauricio Pochettino will still need to convince fans that, in the biggest games, the new Spurs are not the fragile ones of old.

FA Cup semi-finals have been a graveyard for Tottenham - they've lost their last six. No side has ever lost seven in a row so they could make very unwelcome history.

The most recent was 2012 and Spurs won't need reminding that the team that thrashed them 5-1 that day were a certain team in blue.


Match Odds

After the pair couldn't be split in the early trading, Chelsea are now narrow [2.76] favourites, with Tottenham [2.82]. The draw is the outsider of the three at [3.45].

That the market is so tight reflects Tottenham's surge in form but also the fact that they scored a deserved and dominant 2-0 win over Chelsea at White Hart Lane in January.

That came at a time when the Blues looked an unstoppable force so resonates even further. If Spurs can beat a Chelsea in their prime, logic has it that they have a great chance of sinking a wobbling Chelsea.

The other Premier League meeting this season saw Conte's men win 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in November.

Taking a longer-term view, Tottenham have won just two of the last 16 meetings between the London rivals, Chelsea winning seven of those.

The other doubt hanging over Spurs is their poor record at Wembley. In their last eight starts at the iconic stadium, they've lost five out of eight and won just once.

That miserable Wembley form proved costly in this year's Champions League. They lost 2-1 to Monaco (a result which looks more understandable now), were beaten 1-0 by Bayer Leverkusen (12th in the Bundesliga so not forgivable) and beat CSKA Moscow 3-1. They conceded the opener in all three games.

It didn't get much better in the Europa League when they were held 2-2 by Gent in February.

If this match was at White Hart Lane, I'd be with Spurs. Their current eight-game winning streak comprises six victories at their regular home while the two away wins in that sequence were at bottom seven duo Burnley and Swansea (Spurs were 1-0 down with 87 minutes on the clock).

In short, given that their other away successes were at Stoke, Middlesbrough, Southampton and Watford, Spurs are yet to get a really big win outside of the Lane.

And it's surely a double negative that not only are they being deprived of the home comforts of fortress White Hart Lane on Saturday, Spurs are playing the game at a stadium where they've struggled badly.

When going beyond very pure basic form, which is hugely impressive it has to be said, the case for Spurs starts to show holes.

Does that mean I switch to Chelsea? No. They head to Wembley with confidence knocked and Conte, wary of that 2-0 loss in North London, may be happy to try and keep Spurs at arm's length and nick something. It could be tight and it may need longer than 90 minutes.

Conclusion: I'm siding with the draw.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

The idea that FA Cup semi-finals are notoriously tight affairs is contradicted by recent evidence.

Over 2.5 has landed in eight of the last 11 last-four clashes at Wembley and the other three all had two goals. It's [2.12] for Overs on Saturday so history says that's the value. Unders is [1.84].

Obviously, the Unders is a reflection of the two defences on show as Spurs have the meanest in the Premier League having conceded just 22 times in 32 matches while Chelsea are third tightest with 27.

Coming at it from the other direction, Spurs and Chelsea are also the second and third highest scoring teams in the top flight.

The two head-to-heads between the pair this season have produced five goals - the 2-0 win to Spurs and Chelsea's 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.


To Score

Pro-Spurs backers will naturally gravitate to fit-again Harry Kane and free-scoring Dele Alli but their most lethal marksman in recent games is Heung-Min Son.

The South Korean has blasted home eight in his last six outings, starting with a hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Millwall in the quarter-finals, while he's netted six FA Cup goals in the run to the semis.

His pace could easily unsettle the Chelsea defence (Jose Mourinho showed that with his team selection last weekend) and the prices are enough to lure me in.

Son scoring the opener looked tempting at 13/2 but he hasn't netted first in any game since September. Therefore, I'll go for the the anytime goal (something he's achieved in five of his last six games) at 12/5.

In Tottenham's last game at Wembley, Alli was sent off and Kane scored an own goal so perhaps it will be Son's stage on Saturday. He's underrated and there's a chance he could find that extra bit of space if Chelsea focus too much on Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen.

As for Chelsea, Eden Hazard was anonymous against Man Utd but before that had wheeled away in celebration three times in his previous two games.

Having reached February without going more than two games without a goal, top scorer Diego Costa has fired blanks in his last six Chelsea starts. Without the Spaniard's goals, Chelsea have looked more like a bull without the horns.

If you want to look beyond the obvious...

Gary Cahill has scored seven goals this season, including a Wembley goal for England against Scotland. He's 25/1 for first goal and 17/2 anytime on the Sportsbook.


Ref watch

As well as the current title race, these London rivals have some previous. After sacking it off for most of last season, Chelsea seemed desperate to stop Spurs chasing down Leicester last year and gave everything in a 2-2 draw which ended Tottenham's hopes.

Spurs lost their discipline that night with Mark Clattenburg booking nine Tottenham players and three from Chelsea.

In the two meetings since, it's been more sedate with three yellows shown in Chelsea's 2-1 win at the Bridge and five flashed in Tottenham's 2-0 win at WHL.

Martin Atkinson was the ref that day and scribbled down the names Rose, Wanyama, Alli, Cahill and Pedro in his notebook.

Atkinson also takes charge on Saturday and since that previous Spurs-Chelsea game he hasn't produced more than four yellows in 17 games so he tends to let things go if he can. That patience will be tested at Wembley.


Opta stat

Son Heung-Min has been involved in more goals than any other player in this season's FA Cup (6 goals, 1 assist).


Recommended Bets

Back the draw in Chelsea v Tottenham @ 3.45
Back Heung-Min Son To Score Anytime @ 12/5 (Sportsbook)


***


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Dave Tindall's P/L, 2016/17

Staked: 49pts
Returned: 49.53pts
P/L: +0.53pts

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