Chelsea vs Tottenham - as it happened! Antonio Conte's men reach the FA Cup final

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Chelsea have not lost back-to-back matches for over a year, but a defeat to Spurs could prove to be far more damaging than just crashing of the FA Cup. A win for Tottenham would ramp up the pressure ahead of difficult fixtures against Southampton and Everton in the league next week and could well impact the eventual outcome of the Premier League.

The Blues were thoroughly outplayed by a weakened Manchester United team on the weekend and Antonio Conte will be desperate to turn around his team’s fortunes against their North London rivals.

Tottenham Hotspur’s season in recent weeks has been one of improvement and pure optimism. Spurs have not won a noteworthy prize since the Carling Cup in 2008, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men have their eyes on the realistic chance of winning both the FA Cup and the Premier League this season. 

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Who is going to win this semi-final fixture?
Good afternoon and welcome to the Independent's live coverage of today's FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Tottenham. What an afternoon of football we have in store as the London rivals go head to head in a fixture that may well come to determine each of the two sides' respective seasons.
 
It's all to play for! We'll be bringing you live build-up, updates and goals from Wembley so make sure to stay tuned.
"Ugo Ehiogu's tragic passing renders football totally unimportant and yet also reminds us how important it is: how it enriches lives and offers the individual moments that people cherish."
 
An important read on Ugo Ehiogu's passing.
 
Putting the Premier League rivalry aside, the Chelsea boss believes that Spurs are fuelling their fixture against Chelsea with excuses, prior to kick off. With Chelsea leading the table rankings, the pressure is on them to defeat their opponents on home turf. However, should a team of such class and ability, such as Spurs, be allowed to use the 'underdog excuse'? 
 
Test of the title toppers
 
With the two sides separated by just four points at the top of the league table, this is bound to inject anticipation and contention into this FA Cup semi-final. This fixture provides the perfect platform for Chelsea to assert their dominance over the club that have been on their tail at the top of the pile.
 
However, this can also allow Tottenham to impose pressure on their opponents and prove their aptitude against the only club that sits above them in league table. Spurs enter the fixture brimming with confidence following eight consecutive wins in all competitions, whereas Chelsea have a point to prove following their 2-0 defeat against Manchester United last weekend.
Pochettino’s quietly promising debut season at Tottenham Hotspur may have been rendered relatively forgettable by what has taken place at White Hart Lane in the meantime, but there is something from that 2014-15 campaign that has been burned onto the memory of everyone who heard it, and has helped drive almost everything since then. “Just wait until next year,” the Argentine kept telling people at the time, “something big will happen here”. 
 
Reports suggest that Hazard and Costa are set to be rested for this afternoon's clash. A wise choice or is Conte losing his nerve?
 
More to follow.
 
 
Diego Costa vs Harry Kane
 
This north-London derby is fuelled by rivalries, including the collision of two of the league’s top strikers. But, which striker do you prefer?
 
Since Costa joined Chelsea, he has scored 42 goals and 12 assists, compared to Kane’s 51 goals and six assists.
 
Kane’s ankle injury proved a problem for the Spurs side, with his absence proving evident as his side struggled to perform without him. The striker missed five games and Pochettino’s men only managed to score seven in this time. With 25 goals and five assists under his belt so far this season, his rich vein of form could prove pivotal to the success of his side in today’s fixture.
 
Costa has scored 18 goals so far this campaign, with five assists – topping the scoring charts for Conte’s men. The Spaniard appears to have controlled his flaring temper recently and this has provided a positive element to his game. However, prior to this semi-final, there has been speculation as to whether the 28-year-old will start for the home side.
Suggestions that Michy Batshuayi might be brought into the fray.
 
There's certainly some nasty reports flying out there which will be sure to leave Chelsea's fans feeling somewhat unsettled.
 
We'll keep you all updated on this development. Nothing official from Chelsea yet...

Team news:

 
 
 
Antonio Conte makes a bold statement by starting with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard on the sideline. John Terry also starts on the bench, with Nathan Ake replacing him in the starting side. 
 
Batshuayi has replaced Costa.
 
Has Conte left out two of his key players to preserve their best side for their remaining Premier League games? Surely the Chelsea boss has not lost his nerve against his North-London rivals.
Has Antonio Conte made the right decision by starting Costa and Hazard on the sideline?
With Chelsea loosing two of their last four in the Premier League, it appears that Conte is focusing his targets purely on the league title. The absence of Costa and Hazard will certainly inject the Spurs side with confidence prior to the kick off. 
 
Can Batshuayi prove a fitting replacement for Chelsea's top scorer? There is certainly an abundance of pressure on the 23-year-old now. 
The Wembley Stadium is ready to welcome the top two side's in the country to battle it out for a place in the FA Cup final. 
 
Kick off at 17:15.
 
Stay tuned for minute-by-minute coverage of all of the action as it happens. 
Batshuayi has only played 22 minutes since the end of January, so the absence of Costa has provided him with the opportunity to prove himself on this momentous occasion. The 23-year-old has scored five goals so far this season.
Son Heung-min is the joint top-scorer in the FA Cup this season with six goals. The 24-year-old will enter this fixture brimming with confidence, following some top performances recently. He has scored 19 goals so far this season, which is the same as Dele Alli. He will prove problematic for Chelsea if he replicates his recent form at Wembley today.
The two sides are lined up in the tunnel. The pressure of the occasion is proving evident - serious faces all around.
 
Kick off at 17:15.
There is a minute of silence before kick off in honour of Ugo Ehiogu. RIP.

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What time is kick-off?

The match will start at 5.15pm on Saturday.

Where can I watch it?

BBC One. Coverage starts at 4.50pm.

It’s a big match for…

Asmir Begovic: The Chelsea second choice keeper has missed three Wembley FA cup ties in his career (twice at Portsmouth and once at Stoke) and it looks as if he will finally get his chance despite it being mostly due to the injury of Thibaut Courtois. Begovic will be hoping for a dream Wembley FA Cup debut as well as a chance to make up for the Manchester United nightmare.

Remember when…

The Chelsea dressing room celebrated a dramatic 2-1 win over Liverpool at a packed out Wembley stadium in 2012.

Player to watch…

Dele Alli. The 21-year-old has scored 16 Premier League goals for Tottenham this season, and just 12 months after picking up the PFA young player of the year award, Alli is once again the favourite to win the prize this year. Alli has a knack of scoring in big games and with the likely absence of Son Heung-Min it will be down to him and Harry Kane to take up the primary goal scoring roles.

Form…

Chelsea: LWWLWW

Tottenham: WWWWWW

kane.jpg
Kane's Tottenham side are bang in form (Getty)

Odds…

Chelsea to win: 17/10

Draw: 11/5

Tottenham to win: 9/5

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