Chelsea managed to get a huge psychological boost as they notched up a 4-2 win in the FA Cup semi-final over their main and only title challengers Tottenham Hotspur.
It was a classic Wembley affair as the game started at a frenetic pace and although it was the Blues who were bossing it early on, Pochettino’s team of warriors soon stepped up to the task and what followed was an end to end action of high-quality football.
But Chelsea once again showed their unique winning trait under Conte as they found the extra gear to ultimately deflate the Spurs’ fans and the players with a 4-2 scoreline.
But the Italian is wise and experienced enough not to get too carried away and will now shift focus back to the Premier League where he would be targeting nothing less than the maximum points from the remaining fixtures. It is Southampton up next and while Chelsea are clear favourites, Southampton do have the pre-requisites of causing an upset.
But we have seen Chelsea thwart many such teams who have squared up to the Blues with zero pressure on them and similar aspirations but ultimately went home empty handed.
PREDICTED 3-4-2-1 CHELSEA XI VS SOUTHAMPTON
The calm and composed Courtois will try to live up to these adjectives against Southampton and a clean sheet will do just fine along with the three points.
Chelsea haven’t been as defensively resolute as they would have liked in the business end of the season and Conte will hope it is the case from now on to the end of the season.
Cahill is still groggy from the mysterious illness which has plagued him in the last couple of days and it is likely that the 3-man defence will be Azpilicueta, Luiz and one of Zouma and Ake. With Azpilicueta likely to take the right centre-back position, we might see Ake been preferred ahead of Zouma on the left-hand side. The former Playstation and current member of the PFA team of the year- Luiz will hold the mast in the centre of the defence.
Former Vagabond Moses has embraced his new role of being an important member of a potentially title winning team which is a far cry from his Wigan Athletic days and he will line up as the right wing back with the Robert Pattinson lookalike Marcos Alonso on the opposite side.
The PFA player of the year- Kante will look to celebrate the achievement in the best possible way he knows, that is cover enough grass during the 90 minutes to put the Stamford Bridge groundsmen to shame.
Alongside him, Conte is likely to undertake his secret lottery between Fabregas and Matic and we have a sneaky feeling that the stars are with Fabregas this week. So we can expect to see a bevy of delightful over the top balls for the runs of Costa and Hazard and the subsequent calls for the Spaniard to get regular action.
Hazard and Costa will be raring to go after having been relegated to the bench for ‘tactical’ reasons against Spurs and will have only one objective in mind- that is to make sure Conte doesn’t have to employ such ‘tactics’ again in the season. The other slot is likely to see Willian get a start after his dead ball brace set up the tone for the rest of the match.