Chelsea look to take another step towards winning the domestic double as they meet Aston Villa at Wembley in the FA Cup Semi-Final on Saturday. The Blues look to advance to the May 15 final at the expense of the Villans, who will be looking to advance to their second cup final this season. Also, Villa will be looking to avenge the 7-1 defeat that they received at the hands of Chelsea just two weeks ago.
Chelsea have been on a run of good form in the league since their Champions League exit at the hands of Inter and the draw against Blackburn immediately after. In their last three matches, the Blues are undefeated having scored 14 goals in those contests.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti has announced that Didier Drogba will return to the starting 11 for the match. The question will be who Ancelotti sacrifices to make room for the Ivorian. Joe Cole is beginning to find his form again on the right, while Nicolas Anelka could also slide into that spot. Florent Malouda, who is enjoying some of his best football, will more than likely start on the left.
The midfield picks itself with Deco playing well against both Villa and United most likely to start alongside Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi. Branislav Ivanovic has also been training this week and may be fit to start on the bench.
Aston Villa are suffering a bit of a mini-injury crisis at the moment, with both James Milner and Richard Dunne nursing minor injuries. Both are listed as doubts for the match, but Martin O’Neill seems confident that they both will play. The Dunne injury seems a worry for their side since it means that Carlos Cuellar would move to center half and Luke Young, who was terrorized two weeks ago by Malouda, would be forced to start at right back.
On current form, Villa are a tough side to beat, having only lost two matches in their last 20. Those two losses were to us, and United in the Carling Cup final.
The x-factor in this match may well be the state of the Wembley pitch. It was re-laid after the Carling Cup final this year, but it’s notorious for being a substandard surface. It could very well prove to be a stumbling block to the types of football that both teams will want to play.
The match official will be Howard Webb, who in 34 games has issued 123 yellow cards and 4 red cards.