Cesc Fabregas is braced for Wembley heartbreak as Antonio Conte prepares to recall Nemanja Matic for the FA Cup final.
Matic has not started since Chelsea clinched the Premier League title with a win at West Bromwich Albion but is expected to return to partner Footballer of the Year N’Golo Kante in midfield.
Conte has yet to reveal his team but has been training his team in a formation without Fabregas, the former Arsenal captain who will relish the chance to complete the Double against his former club.
Arsene Wenger rejected the chance to re-sign Fabregas three years ago, when he was leaving Barcelona and Chelsea lured him back to London.
Fabregas has started three of the last four games for Conte’s team, helped by an injury to Kante and the manager’s efforts to refresh his players once the title was decided.
He scored a late winner in the 4-3 win against Watford and has been in fine form but the 30-year-old midfielder has most often been used as an effective substitute this season, not least in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
The Spaniard spent eight years at Arsenal before moving back to his native Barcelona in 2011 and admits games against Wenger’s team are always a special.