England’s FA Cup has a long history and gives each club up to the 10th tier of the national pyramid system an opportunity to play against some of the toughest clubs in the world. As we draw closer to the finals, the competition has become even more interesting. According to tradition, the winner will get a spot in next season’s Europa League.
The quarter-finals were concluded, and the semi-finals are coming up this weekend. Every soccer fan is excited and is looking forward to some entertaining matches. The draw for the semis was done on 18 March 2018, after the match between Leicester City and Chelsea. The matches will be played on Saturday 21 April (Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur) and Sunday 22 April (Chelsea v Southampton) at the Wembley Stadium. This year’s final will be played on 19th May at Wembley. Here is a detailed analysis of the upcoming semi-final games:
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Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Saturday 21st April, Kick Off 1715hrs
Manchester United has had a weird week as they head to the semis, and their last two games show a perfect picture of their fortunes this season. Manchester United showed their strength when they came from two goals behind and defeated Man City by three goals, spoiling their anticipated party. However, in the next match, they lost at home to Premiership’s bottom side West Bromwich Albion.
Tottenham Hotspur FC lost 3-1 to Manchester City last week on their home turf. Although performance was disappointing, a top-four spot had already been secured. The semi-final clash with United will be played at Wembley where Tottenham Hotspur FC has played all their home games this season. That gives Tottenham a considerable advantage as they head to the semi-final.
England’s international striker Harry Kane is not new to the big stage. Spurs target man is one of the most prolific strikers in Europe, which makes him a player to look out for in their game against Manchester United. As expected, Kane has had a good record in the competition this season.
United have had good defensive stats, this season although they have failed to concede only twice in their last eight games since late February. United have been shaky in the midfield since Pogba’s form dipped and Tottenham will relish the chance to play through in-form Eriksen. Manchester United will be expecting Sanchez, who is not new to the big stage, to send them to the finals.
Chelsea v Southampton – Sunday 22nd April, Kick Off 1500hrs
Chelsea struggled to produce a late victory to beat Southampton 3-2 in the Premiership last weekend but would be more clinical in the semi-final clash. Chelsea have an excellent record in FA Cup over the last decade and could enjoy another Wembley victory this Sunday.
Antonio Conte needs to salvage something after a disappointing season. Chelsea had survived a scare in the third-round against Norwich, drawing 0-0 on the road and 1-1 at home before winning on penalties. They later defeated Newcastle 3-0 and Hull 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals. Extra-time was needed to beat Leicester 2-1 at King Power Stadium with a rare header from Pedro proving crucial.
Mark Hughes enjoyed a positive start to his tenure at Southampton when they defeated Wigan 2-0 in the quarter-finals. However, they had to dig deep to wear down the League One club that played well in the first half and paid for wasting their chances. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg netted a 62nd-minute corner, and Manolo Gabbiadini missed a penalty before Cedric Soares netted the second goal in stoppage time.
The Saints have previously eliminated Fulham, Watford and West Brom by a one-goal margin in each occasion. That form will be important in boosting their confidence ahead of their clash with Chelsea. However, that may not be good enough to knock out Chelsea which is deemed to be the favourites. The Saints are also trying to avoid relegation, and that remains the top challenge for Hughes.
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