How Southampton must line up when they face Chelsea in FA Cup semi-final tie
Southampton will look to put their poor Premier League season out of their minds for one afternoon – and try and bring some smiles to the faces of the supporters – when they face Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Wembley on Sunday.
Saints will know what is at stake and that they can move a step closer to winning the prestigious trophy – and their first major one – for the first time since they lifted it back in 1976 by beating Manchester United.
It has been a season to forget for the south coast outfit in the top flight, and after four successive top-eight finishes they are on course to suffer relegation to the Championship – Thursday night’s goalless draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium hardly did them any favours and left them four points from safety with just four games remaining.
Manager Mark Hughes will see survival as a priority but he certainly faces a catch 22 situation against Antonio Conte’s men, with his players only playing 72 hours before and with the Welshman not wanting to lose any key men to injury ahead of the must-win clash against south coast rivals Bournemouth at St Mary’s next weekend.
Hughes stuck with the same formation and XI against Leicester that surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against Chelsea just a few days previously, but he may be considering making some changes ahead of this encounter as he looks to keep his squad fresh – but he will also want to win and cause what would be a huge shock given it could be Conte’s final chance to win a trophy as Blues boss.
Here is how Southampton must line up against Chelsea, ahead of Alex McCarthy in goal…