Rafa Benitez doesn't appear to have time for sentiment or an affinity for experience over form ahead of his team's FA Cup semifinal clash with Manchester City. Veteran Chelsea stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard are expected to start on the bench on Sunday, according to The Guardian. It will be the first FA Cup semi-final or final that Terry and Lampard have failed to start for the club since 2006.
Terry and Lampard have been far from automatic starters this season, even if they have remained key players in the side. John Obi Mikel has been more of a regular in midfield than Lampard, while David Luiz and Gary Cahill have enjoyed solid seasons in the center of defense. Recently, with the improved form of Cesar Azpilicueta at right back and some injury issues plaguing his true central defenders, Benitez has selected Ivanovic in the center of defense.
Terry and Lampard both started on Thursday against Rubin Kazan, but Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic were preferred in the club's last Premier League game against Sunderland. Terry did not start either FA Cup match against Manchester United, and Lampard missed the second game of the tie.
Lampard spoke about his likely benching, remaining professional but implying that he has a less than spectacular rapport with Benitez at the moment.
"[E]very game is different and none of us is sure we're playing on Sunday. Being considered an 'automatic selection' depends on how you're playing, what manager you have and the relationships you have with them, and things change. I don't think anyone is an automatic selection with the manager at the minute because there are lots of games and he's changing it regularly. So I'm like everyone else: I want to play every game but it's not possible."
Ivanovic is likely to partner David Luiz in defense against Manchester City, though Cahill could earn himself a selection if he proves to be fully fit. Ramires, whose form has improved significantly in the last month, is the most likely candidate to start alongside Mikel in the Chelsea midfield.