The 2017 FA Cup Semi-Finals – Preview
April 22, 2017 (No Comments) by Andy Leech

the-2017-fa-cup-semi-finals-preview

There is little doubt that the oldest competition in world football, has become a little stale in recent years. The trend probably began in 1999, when a recent treble-winning Manchester United team withdrew from that year’s edition of the competition, to concentrate on the newly formed Club World Cup in São Paulo.

Of course, this is not the only factor which contributed to the demise in popularity of the FA Cup. The glamour of European football, the importance of league standings, and the “resting” of players, all being cited as reasons for the irrelevance of the once revered trophy.

However, this year’s competition has gone a long way in recapturing the imagination of the public once again. Ignoring pie-munching goalkeepers for a minute, the competition has been boosted greatly by lengthy runs for dark horses, minnows and giant killers. What has also contributed to the re-emergence of the FA Cup as a worthwhile competition, is the fact that four of the so-called “Top 6” are in the semi-finals.

Chelsea vs Tottenham

chelsea-vs-tottenham

Saturday sees the two immovable London forces clash. Both teams have been in tantalising form in recent months, with the only criticism of Tottenham’s performances in the league being that they possibly showed up too late. Chelsea suffered a slight setback last week against an improving Manchester United side, but their manageable league run-in means they are quite unlikely to blow a four point lead, and let Spurs sneak in and snatch the title.

But the FA Cup is a perfect opportunity for Mauricio Pochettino to take home some silverware and really prove that the North-London club are here to stay at the summit of the English game.

Tottenham possess a squad that oozes promise and excitement. In Kane and Alli, they have two players who look likely to go on to become two of the best players of their generation. Only once in their history have Tottenham been on a better run of form, way back in 1960.

conte-pochettino

Yet, this will count for little on Saturday when they return to Wembley, something that will make sleep difficult for the Tottenham faithful in the days leading up to this fixture. The north Londoners form in the old stadium has been poor, and they will be looking to shake off this “curse” just in time to claim their first piece of silverware in nine years.

For long periods of the season, it looked all a little two easy for Chelsea. Despite their recent wobble, they still have a starting eleven that any club in England would be jealous of. While Tottenham come into this match with all the momentum, it is impossible to run out a team that possesses talents such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

Verdict

Looking at recent results, it’s clear as to why many are fancying Spurs for this one. But it’s almost impossible to imagine this Chelsea team losing two matches on the bounce, so expect them to come out on top at Wembley.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

arsenal-vs-manchester-city

Arsène Wenger’s days are numbered, that’s for sure. Even his most loyal followers are struggling to justify recent results and performances. Every time Alexis Sánchez throws his arms into the air or Francis Coquelin trips over his own legs, it feels as if another part of Wenger’s proud reputation is being chipped away at. He led this club to its most successful period ever, and in recent years, was able to guarantee European football for what seems like a millions years.

But now Arsenal are forced to watch their North London neighbours overtake them as the big guys on the block, as they face the prospect of no Champions League next year.

While Wenger’s job is unlikely to be saved by an FA Cup triumph, it certainly would be a fitting way to go. And with players the calibre of Mesut Özil and the aforementioned Alexis Sánchez, it seems follish to completely rule them out.

arsene-wenger-pep-guardiola

Pep Guardiola didn’t have the instant success at his new club that many prophesied, but it’s hardly surprising that this is the case given the capabilities of this Man City line up, in comparison to that of his last two clubs.

While finishing in the top 4 will be the priority for Pep’s charges, he will also be anxious to claim some silverware, to prove to his fans that he is taking the club in the right direction.

Verdict

With a defence littered with bumbling idiots such as John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi, Mancheter City are always likely to concede goals. But Arsenal’s defence isn’t exactly watertight either, and I expect them to struggle with the like of David Silva, Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling.

Expect Manchester City to shade this one, but don’t be surprised if there’s a sting from a dying wasp.

Andy Leech
Writes about sport and the general idiocy of the human race. Once read a George Orwell book and now understands life.

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The 2017 FA Cup Semi-Finals – Preview
April 22, 2017 (No Comments) by Andy Leech

the-2017-fa-cup-semi-finals-preview

There is little doubt that the oldest competition in world football, has become a little stale in recent years. The trend probably began in 1999, when a recent treble-winning Manchester United team withdrew from that year’s edition of the competition, to concentrate on the newly formed Club World Cup in São Paulo.

Of course, this is not the only factor which contributed to the demise in popularity of the FA Cup. The glamour of European football, the importance of league standings, and the “resting” of players, all being cited as reasons for the irrelevance of the once revered trophy.

However, this year’s competition has gone a long way in recapturing the imagination of the public once again. Ignoring pie-munching goalkeepers for a minute, the competition has been boosted greatly by lengthy runs for dark horses, minnows and giant killers. What has also contributed to the re-emergence of the FA Cup as a worthwhile competition, is the fact that four of the so-called “Top 6” are in the semi-finals.

Chelsea vs Tottenham

chelsea-vs-tottenham

Saturday sees the two immovable London forces clash. Both teams have been in tantalising form in recent months, with the only criticism of Tottenham’s performances in the league being that they possibly showed up too late. Chelsea suffered a slight setback last week against an improving Manchester United side, but their manageable league run-in means they are quite unlikely to blow a four point lead, and let Spurs sneak in and snatch the title.

But the FA Cup is a perfect opportunity for Mauricio Pochettino to take home some silverware and really prove that the North-London club are here to stay at the summit of the English game.

Tottenham possess a squad that oozes promise and excitement. In Kane and Alli, they have two players who look likely to go on to become two of the best players of their generation. Only once in their history have Tottenham been on a better run of form, way back in 1960.

conte-pochettino

Yet, this will count for little on Saturday when they return to Wembley, something that will make sleep difficult for the Tottenham faithful in the days leading up to this fixture. The north Londoners form in the old stadium has been poor, and they will be looking to shake off this “curse” just in time to claim their first piece of silverware in nine years.

For long periods of the season, it looked all a little two easy for Chelsea. Despite their recent wobble, they still have a starting eleven that any club in England would be jealous of. While Tottenham come into this match with all the momentum, it is impossible to run out a team that possesses talents such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

Verdict

Looking at recent results, it’s clear as to why many are fancying Spurs for this one. But it’s almost impossible to imagine this Chelsea team losing two matches on the bounce, so expect them to come out on top at Wembley.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

arsenal-vs-manchester-city

Arsène Wenger’s days are numbered, that’s for sure. Even his most loyal followers are struggling to justify recent results and performances. Every time Alexis Sánchez throws his arms into the air or Francis Coquelin trips over his own legs, it feels as if another part of Wenger’s proud reputation is being chipped away at. He led this club to its most successful period ever, and in recent years, was able to guarantee European football for what seems like a millions years.

But now Arsenal are forced to watch their North London neighbours overtake them as the big guys on the block, as they face the prospect of no Champions League next year.

While Wenger’s job is unlikely to be saved by an FA Cup triumph, it certainly would be a fitting way to go. And with players the calibre of Mesut Özil and the aforementioned Alexis Sánchez, it seems follish to completely rule them out.

arsene-wenger-pep-guardiola

Pep Guardiola didn’t have the instant success at his new club that many prophesied, but it’s hardly surprising that this is the case given the capabilities of this Man City line up, in comparison to that of his last two clubs.

While finishing in the top 4 will be the priority for Pep’s charges, he will also be anxious to claim some silverware, to prove to his fans that he is taking the club in the right direction.

Verdict

With a defence littered with bumbling idiots such as John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi, Mancheter City are always likely to concede goals. But Arsenal’s defence isn’t exactly watertight either, and I expect them to struggle with the like of David Silva, Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling.

Expect Manchester City to shade this one, but don’t be surprised if there’s a sting from a dying wasp.

Andy Leech
Writes about sport and the general idiocy of the human race. Once read a George Orwell book and now understands life.

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