Star men Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were named on the bench as Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte threw a selection curveball ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
Spain striker Costa and Belgium playmaker Hazard have each enjoyed impressive seasons for the Premier League leaders, scoring 32 goals between them.
But, after defeat at Manchester United last weekend left Chelsea’s advantage at the summit over Spurs trimmed to four points, Conte appears to be prioritising Southampton’s league visit to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday over this all-London encounter at Wembley.
Both Hazard and Costa started the 1-0 quarter-final win over United, but Willian and Michy Batshuayi will join Pedro in attack at the national stadium.
Batshuayi has failed to establish himself at Chelsea since a big-money move from Marseille last year and is yet to make a Premier League start. He has FA Cup goals to his name against Peterborough United and Brentford.
Nathan Ake came into Chelsea’s back three in place of England defender Gary Cahill, who has been struck down by illness.
It will be Ake’s third appearance for the Blues since being recalled from a loan spell at Bournemouth in January – all of which have come in the FA Cup after starts against Brentford and Wolves in rounds four and five.
COME ON CHELSEA! pic.twitter.com/Cgx3YTR7vz
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 22, 2017
Tottenham travel to Crystal Palace on Wednesday but there were no headline omissions from Mauricio Pochettino’s line-up, with Victor Wanyama’s inclusion seeing Eric Dier deployed at centre-back.
Kieran Tripper won the nod ahead of England right-back Kyle Walker, while Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all start in an in-form attacking quartet.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 22, 2017