Semi-final day at new Wembley

Since the new stadium at Wembley began hosting FA Cup semi-finals in 2008, no team has made more appearances or enjoyed more success at this stage than Chelsea.

This weekend’s clash against Manchester City will be the Blues’ eighth semi-final appearance under the giant arch in the past 14 seasons, two more than our opponents have managed and three more than Arsenal and Manchester United.

And Chelsea have done more than just up for those matches as we have gone on to reach the final on six of seven occasions for a success rate of over 85 per cent. In comparison, Arsenal have reached four finals, City have made it three times, United have advanced twice and Tottenham Hotspur have lost all four of their Wembley semis.

Indeed, Chelsea have an excellent record at the new national stadium, lifting the FA Cup after a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the first competitive game there in 2007 although a surprise quarter-final loss at Barnsley the following season meant we were not involved in the first new Wembley semi-finals in 2008.

We returned to the last four in 2009 for a derby clash against Arsenal, who went ahead through a deflected effort by Theo Walcott. However, Florent fired home the equaliser in the 33rd minute and Didier Drogba beat goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the race to a Frank Lampard long ball before rolling the ball home to make it 2-1 six minutes from time.

We beat Everton in the final and were defending champions when we met Aston Villa at the same stage the following year. Villa had lost 7-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League two weeks earlier but there were not goals at Wembley until midway through the second half when John Terry’s effort was deflected in by Drogba. We then hit them twice in the dying minutes as Malouda turned in a Michael Ballack cross and Lampard made it 3-0 on a breakaway deep into stoppage time.

We were back in the semi-finals in 2012 for another capital clash, this time against Tottenham Hotspur. Drogba made it six goals in six FA Cup appearances at Wembley with a stunning opener just before half-time and while Juan Mata extended our advantage early in the second half, the game was still in the balance when Gareth Bale got one back for Spurs soon afterwards.

However, the Blues pulled away in the end as Ramires was played in by Mata for our third and Lampard belted in a spectacular 35-yard free-kick before Malouda’s stoppage-time effort made it 5-1.

We returned in 2013 for the fourth time in five years but suffered our only Wembley semi-final loss to date, going down 2-1 to Manchester City despite a well-taken strike by Demba Ba.

We met Tottenham again in the 2017 semis with the Blues once again coming out on top in a pulsating clash between the top two teams in the Premier League. Willian twice gave Antonio Conte’s league leaders the lead and although Spurs levelled each time, a pair of glorious strikes late on by Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic secured a memorable 4-2 victory over our London rivals.

Olivier Giroud helped Arsenal to deny Chelsea the Double in the 2017 final but he joined us the following season and played a big part when we came up against Southampton at Wembley.

The France striker had scored twice as we came from two goals down to win 3-2 in our Premier League match at St Mary’s Stadium a week earlier and he inflicted more pain on the Saints when he opened the scoring in our 2-0 victory after a wonderful slaloming run through the Southampton defence just after the interval.

Giroud was on target again when we met Manchester United in the first-ever July semi-final last year, turning in Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross in first-half stoppage time to give us the lead.

Mason Mount’s opportunistic low strike less than a minute into the second half extended our advantage before a Harry Maguire own goal put the game beyond the reach of the Red Devils in our 3-1 victory.