Antonio Conte has urged his players to give everything in their pursuit of a positive end to a disappointing season.
The Blues are unlikely to finish in the Champions League positions as they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by five points, but they can still end the season with silverware in the form of the FA Cup.
Southampton in Sunday’s tie at Wembley is all that blocks their path to securing a place in the final for a second successive year and Conte is determined to overcome the Premier League strugglers.
“We must have great motivation to finish the season as strongly as possible, in every case,” the Chelsea boss said.
“Now we have the opportunity to play at Wembley for the second year in a row and we have the possibility to beat Southampton and get to an important final. We have to try and finish in the best possible way.”
Defender Emerson Palmieri made his first Premier League start in Thursday’s 2-1 victory at Burnley and the January signing from Roma could deputize for the suspended Marcos Alonso once more.
“Emerson played a really good game defensively and offensively. He is a young player who is a very good prospect for Chelsea,” Conte said.
“I have time to make the best decision on my players for Sunday’s game, so we will see who recovers well but for sure, Emerson is in contention for Sunday.”
Emerson stakes a serious claim for next season
Yesterday we wrote that Marcos Alonso’s ban would be a good thing for Chelsea in the long term, as it would allow the team to see Emerson in action in a proper game at last.
The Italian seriously impressed, making a few “team of the week” lineups and putting in the cross that Victor Moses scored the second form.
He may well get to play again on Sunday if he can handle two games in such a short period, and Chelsea fans will be hoping he can.
There’s not been much to enjoy this season, especially when it comes to signings, so they will be delighted to see the Italian impress again.
Emerson has had to wait a long time for his chance, and given his long-term injury that preceded his move, it’s just great to see him back on the pitch and looking as full of potential as we had hoped.