Chelsea there for the taking: Le Saux

LONDON • Former Chelsea and Southampton defender Graeme Le Saux believes that the Saints can cause an upset today in the FA Cup semi-finals when they take on the Blues.

The Wembley clash is a rematch of last week's Premier League match in which Chelsea came from two down to win 3-2 at St Mary's with goals in the final 20 minutes.

"I've always looked at (18th-placed) Southampton this season and thought they were a better team than what the table shows," the 49-year-old told the Daily Star.

"Chelsea are favourites. But I wouldn't say they are outstanding favourites and, if they turn up with the attitude they did last weekend, then there will be an upset.

"It was an embarrassing first half, that they were just strolling around not looking like they had the desire.

"I hope they really feel the pressure this weekend. This is a game that will move them one step closer to salvaging their season.

"If they finish the season fifth and win the FA Cup, it's still something to take away and be proud of."

Southampton manager Mark Hughes, who like Le Saux played for both clubs, knows the importance of the FA Cup.

"It's not every season you get the opportunity to get to a major Cup final," he said on BBC Sport, adding that he would put the relegation battle at the back of his mind today.

"It's the greatest Cup competition in the world in my view. In some people's minds, maybe it has been diminished since the emergence of the Champions League and Premier League, but to be involved in major Cup finals is where you make your mark in the game."

The Saints have won four of their five FA Cup ties against Chelsea. But the Blues have progressed from 11 of their last 14 semi-finals.

"Clearly, Chelsea have an advantage in terms of experience of this level of game, but that doesn't mean we can't go there and cause some problems," Hughes added.

CHELSEA V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Chelsea there for the taking: Le Saux'. Print Edition | Subscribe