It's been almost two years since Chelsea's last trip to Wembley. It's amazing to think that in May 2010 we were putting the finishing touches on a League and FA Cup double. 24 months later and I don't think you could find a Chelsea fan who wouldn't be thrilled with a top-four finish.
The FA Cup is still on the cards, however. Chelsea have faced a fairly easy route to the semifinals, facing only one Premier League team - Queens Park Rangers - out of their four opponents. Now things get markedly more challenging. The Blues will have to navigate Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday to make it to the final, and should they manage to get that far, Liverpool await.
But anyway, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. The focus, right now, is on Spurs. What should we expect tomorrow?
Date/Time: Sunday, April 15th, 6:00 PM BST (1:00 PM EDT).
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London.
TV: FSC (USA), ITV 1 (UK)
Tottenham have plenty of key absentees for this one. Their defence is in a bit of a mess, with both Younes Kaboul and Michael Dawson missing and Ledley King a doubt with an ankle problem. That leaves Harry Redknapp with William Gallas, who is old enough that carbon dating no longer works on him, and Ryan Nelsen, who frankly looks as though Spurs have plucked him from a job as a shopping mall security guard, as his centre back pairing. That's more than a little bit promising as far as Chelsea's attack goes.
Elsewhere, Spurs are missing Tom Huddlestone and Niko Krancjar, but Scott Parker is expected to feature in the centre of the midfield despite a minor hamstring problem. The really dangerous players - Gareth Bale, Emmanuel Adebayor and Luka Modric - are all fit and ready to go.
Chelsea have Oriol Romeu out with an illness* and Ryan Bertrand out with a calf injury, but otherwise should be more or less fully fit. Ashley Cole is expected to make his return, but may be held back to play Barcelona in midweek, and John Terry's in a similar boat. Branislav Ivanovic, meanwhile, is serving the first match of his three-game suspension.
*Rumoured to be basketitis.
Given that we have an incredibly prestigious match coming up on Wednesday, it does make sense to hold back some of our more knocked up players for Barcelona, whether or not you think that tie is winnable or not. If it were up to me, I'd try to rest Terry, allowing David Luiz and Gary Cahill to pair up at centre back. If Bertrand was around, I'd want to rest Cole too, but he's not, so hey. Kind of stuck there.
Despite Tottenham's position in the league table, they're probably not the sort of side we should be scared of, and instead of packing the midfield with defensively-minded players we should probably be attempting to control the game. That means that Michael Essien and Frank Lampard are a natural midfield pairing, although they'll need to play a lot better than they have in recent games if we're going to win.
Up front, we're probably going to want Ramires tracking Gareth Bale and Juan Mata orchestrating things in the middle. On the left, where Aaron Lennon will theoretically be roaming, Salomon Kalou is probably a better call than Daniel Sturridge, whose speed will come in handy against Barcelona anyway. Up front, we might as well use Fernando Torres, because I imagine that Didier Drogba will be a wee bit more keen on taking brutal, bloody revenge against the Catalans than playing in an FA Cup semifinal.
Soo that gives us a lineup that looks like this:
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Jose Bosingwa; Frank Lampard, Michael Essien; Salomon Kalou, Juan Mata, Ramires; Fernando Torres.
Should be enough to get the job done. Let's hope for a fun match tomorrow. An FA Cup final would be kind of nice.