What: FA Cup Semifinal Game 2
When: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Time: 6:00 p.m. London/1:00 p.m. EDT/10:00 a.m. PDT
Television: Fox Soccer Channel
LVH SuperBook Odds: Chelsea +185, Tottenham Hotspur +145; Draw +240
This London derby for a chance to play in the FA Cup championship game on May 5 sees the fourth-place team in the English Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur, battling the sixth-place club, Chelsea, in a game that should be as close as close gets.
Tottenham advanced to Sunday’s semifinals by defeating Bolton, 3-1, while Chelsea ousted Leicester City, the last Championship League side left in the tournament, to get here.
Despite Chelsea’s lukewarm season, the Blues can still make lemonade out of lemons with some FA Cup silverware and massive upsets of Barcelona and the Bayern Munich-Real Madrid winners in the UEFA Champions League title game (Chelsea 9-1) on May 19 in Munich.
Coach Harry Redknapp, Gareth Bale and Spurs are confident heading into this match, although Redknapp says there is no distinct favorite remaining of the final four teams, which includes Liverpool (+140) and Everton (+205; Draw +225) who play in the first FA Cup semifinal early Saturday morning (FSC, 7:30 a.m. EDT/4:30 a.m. PDT).
One possible problem for Chelsea will be the absence of defender Branislav Ivanovic who lost his violent conduct appeal to the FA. Filling in for Ivanovic will likely be Paulo Ferreira or Jose Bosingwa, a weakness Tottenham may try to exploit.
Also of concern in the back line for the Blues is the health of captain John Terry, who will reportedly consider taking pain killing injections for two cracked ribs he has been nursing, and Ashley Cole, who is still fighting an ankle injury but will reportedly play.
Manager Roberto Di Matteo said on Friday that Oriol Romeu is ill and Ryan Bertrad has a calf injury, so, to say the least, Chelsea should be worried about the status of its defense.
With all that in mind, the play of defender David Luiz and the midfield will become even more important in a game that should mean much more to Chelsea with 2013 UEFA Champions League qualification still just out of reach—currently sixth in EPL, trailing Tottenham (59 points) and Newcastle (59) by two points (57) with just five league matches remaining, including tough away dates against Arsenal and Liverpool.
Both times these two have met in EPL play this season, the games have been extremely close and hard-fought with the two drawing 0-0 at Stamford Bridge and 1-1 at White Hart Lane. So, two games and just two total goals hints at the first score in this battle being crucial.
The way I see it, things haven’t changed that much in recent weeks, and this match could very well be 1-1 or 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes of play, so taking a rare chance at wagering on the the draw is where I see the best value and logic here.
It may not be a fun bet if you’re a fan of either club, or even a casual sports gambler, but knowing this semifinal will be that tight is something to take into consideration when heading to the betting window.
90-MINUTE PREDICTION: Chelsea 1 Tottenham 1
> BET: Draw +240
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Kevin Stott has written sports for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers and Gaming Today and is a hardcore blue-bleeding Chelsea fan living in the Mojave Desert.