Tore Andre Flo: Hazard is a magician like Zola – and can down Tottenham
You don’t need us to tell you that this weekend sees Chelsea take on Tottenham in one of the most hotly-anticipated Emirates FA Cup Semi-Finals in years.
Spurs head to Wembley on a run of seven league wins in succession, while the Blues must bounce back after losing to Manchester United last weekend.
So, to discuss this weekend’s huge fixture, Ladbrokes News grabbed an exclusive chat with Chelsea hero and current club ambassador and academy coach, Tore Andre Flo…
Ladbrokes News: Tore, it really doesn’t get much bigger than Chelsea versus Tottenham at Wembley in the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final, how do you think the game will go?
Tore Andre Flo: Yeah it’s a huge game – but it will be a tough one. We need to bounce back, and I knew it would be a difficult game for them at Man United.
It’s not that we are in bad form or anything, but just that United are playing very well and I sort of expected Jose Mourinho to have a plan!
I think Chelsea will win it this weekend, but it won’t be easy. I expect a very good game, Tottenham are doing so well at the moment.
LN: Could this game impact the title race too?
TAF: Certainly, this game could have huge implications for the title race. If Chelsea can win this weekend then that will set them up perfectly for the title-run in, and destroy Tottenham’s hopes too, so this is a massive game.
Conte needs a trophy this season, whether it’s the Premier League or the FA Cup, as it would really secure his place at the club.
The FA Cup is by far the best domestic cup competition going, it’s the one you really want to win.
It has so much tradition and I’m sure Conte will be fully aware how important the FA Cup is both to the fans and to the club.
LN: Six of Chelsea’s seven FA Cup wins have come in the last 20 years, they’ve had a real bond with the competition haven’t they?
The FA Cup has been good to Chelsea. In my time there we were something of a cup team – we won a lot of cups! We won the League Cup, the FA Cup and in Europe with the Cup Winners’ Cup.
That helped us so much in getting us going and turning us into what the club has become today.
It took a while for the league success to come but the cup wins really helped make that happen, without question.
The FA Cup is in great shape right now, we’ve got two amazing semi-finals and that will give us one superb final.
Four of the best teams in England – who are all fighting it out in the league too – at Wembley – it doesn’t get much better.
LN: Tell us more about the Chelsea versus Tottenham rivalry. You scored more goals against Spurs than any other Premier League side…
TAF: I always had the feeling when I was a player with Chelsea that when we played Tottenham, that was the game the supporters really wanted to win.
You could feel it. You knew that as a Chelsea player if there was one team to beat then it was Tottenham!
It wasn’t Arsenal, it wasn’t West Ham, it was Tottenham. And luckily for me I managed to score a few goals against them which made me popular with the supporters!
This weekend’s game is so hard to call, it could easily go either way.
You can put reasons for Chelsea to win, and you can put reasons for Tottenham to win. It’s going to be close, but overall I think Chelsea are slightly stronger.
LN: Who is poised to steal the show this weekend?
TAF: There are so many match-winners in both squads. But the one who has that little bit extra is Eden Hazard, he’s superb. It could be anyone on that pitch who wins it but Hazard has that magic.
Hazard is a little like Gianfranco Zola, he reminds me of him. When you need a goal, somehow from somewhere he can come up with that magic and score.
Zola could do that and so can Hazard. And hopefully he can do it this weekend.
And even if Tottenham manage to control Hazard, they still have to deal with Diego Costa!
He’s so important to Chelsea, and yes he hasn’t scored for a few games but that’s how it goes in football, and especially with strikers. It goes up and down.
Every player will go through a dry spell, so hopefully that means he’s due to end that this weekend! Overall this season he’s kept his head and I reckon he’ll be on top-form on Saturday.
LN: How impressed have you been with Conte’s impact at Chelsea? And as he begins his era at Stamford Bridge, John Terry’s comes to an end…
TAF: Conte has been quite amazing, everybody likes him and I’ve watched a few training sessions with him and the club this year and he’s a really enthusiastic coach.
He’s put a great dose of fresh energy into Chelsea this year and it’s been a big boost. I have to admit I didn’t expect him to do quite so well so quickly, but it’s great to see!
John Terry, along with Frank Lampard, are probably the biggest Chelsea legends of all time.
He’s been a phenomenal player and a great captain, and all the positive comments that have come out this week are all true, he’s been a legend for the club.
LN: Finally Tore, it’s time to get off the fence – what’s your score prediction for the big game?
TAF: A correct score? We’ve got two teams who are both excellent at going forward and defending, but I’m hoping for a few goals at Wembley so I’ll say Chelsea to win 3-2!
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