The FA Cup semi-finals are set to be played this weekend, and with three of the four teams still involved in the Champions League it has been a pressure filled week for these clubs.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Both of these teams were involved in Champions League quarter final action mid-week and managed to progress to the semi-final stage of that tournament so it will be interesting to see who comes through and plays the better football in the first of the FA Cup semi-finals.
Of the two teams, Chelsea definitely had the tougher Champions League opponent where they had to fight off an extremely spirited Liverpool to progress through to the semi-finals of Europe’s top competition.
Arsenal on the other hand had a home game against Spanish team Villareal and were convincing in their 3-0 victory.
Chelsea are showing a new lease on life under coach Guus Hiddink and will be looking to improve on their poor record this season domestically against top four teams. The only point they have come away with from these matches was thanks to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United. They suffered a 2-1 loss at home to Arsenal in their last encounter and will play them again in May at Emirates.
Arsenal have had another steady season, and like their opponents are showing good form at the business end of the season. They are currently lying fourth on the EPL ladder, but have a very tough run home with matches against all three of the other top teams. How well they play over this period could determine whether Liverpool can snatch the title away from Manchester United.
The bookies have found it hard to split Arsenal and Chelsea for the FA Cup semi, with a Wembley game offering no home advantage to either side. Chelsea have been installed as slight favourites due to their recent strong form but it is worth mentioning that over the past 12 games the two teams have an identical record – 9 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss.
Should be an exciting match.
Chealsea – $2.45
Arsenal – $3.00
Draw – $3.15
Manchester United vs Everton
Everton are having an excellent season and will provide a definite challenge to a Manchester outfit that is heavily stretched at the moment between trying to defend their European title and fending off Liverpool’s challenge in the Premier League. This will leave Everton feeling they have a chance to slip under the radar and take the cookies in a one off game at a neutral venue.
Everton will be looking to draw on their last successful FA Cup campaign in 1995 where they claimed victory in the final…against Manchester United. To progress this far they have had victories over Aston Villa and Liverpool but will face the sternest possibly test to reach the final.
The past couple of months have exposed some weaknesses in the Red Devils. They should have had the Premier League trophy in the cabinet by now, but by allowing Liverpool a sniff they have created extra pressure on themselves at the business end of the season and it wouldn’t be a surprise if at some stage we saw them stumble in either the FA Cup, The Champions League or the EPL.
The fact that this is a one-off game further fuels the chances of the Everton outfit.
The bookies have installed Manchester as red hot favourites and deservedly so when you look at the superstars in the team and what they have achieved over the past couple of seasons.
But the beauty of the FA Cup is that on any given day any team can achieve the unthinkable – and being a fan of Manchester not winning everything I’m hoping that day comes this weekend…and that Tim Cahill is in the thick of the action.
Manchester United – $1.75
Everton – $5.25
Draw – $3.40
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