Chelsea’s defence of the FA Cup reaches a pivotal stage at Wembley, with the semi final against Aston Villa. Still smarting from their 7-1 crushing at the hands of the Blues a few weeks ago, Villa must produce something altogether improved if they are to figure in the final come May.
For Villa, James Milner is under an injury cloud, as is Richard Dunne, though the former is expected to play. It has to be remember that before the 7-1 match, O’Neill sold a dummy that many of his experienced players were injured – all but Heskey played.
There are no new worries for Chelsea, who are buoyed by the news that Branislav Ivanovic may well feature as a substitute. Nonetheless, the right back position is in safe hands with the wonderfully consistent Paulo Ferreira showing the form of old, having finally been granted an opportunity to impress.
Chelsea and Villa have clashed seven times in the FA Cup, with Villa winning four of those clashes. However, Chelsea have won the most recent two, the most recent being the 2000 Final at the Old Wembley Stadium. Roberto di Matteo scored the winner in the 72nd minute after David James flapped at the corner.
Ladbrokes has installed Chelsea as strong 4/7 favourites, with the draw paying 11/4. Villa are at long odds to turn over the Cup holders, at 5/1.