It’s FA Cup Semi Final Weekend
After Manchester United’s Houdini type comeback against Manchester City two weekends ago, it was rather disappointing that United simply handed the Premier League title to City last weekend by losing 1-0 to West Brom in what could only be described as an abject performance.
However, with United needing just two-points from their remaining four Premier League games to secure Champions League Football for next season, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise as they probably had their sights fixed firmly on this Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham. We’re taking a look at that match as well as the other semi-final involving Southampton and Chelsea. We’re also taking a look at all the Premier League games involving teams in the Premier League Relegation battle.
FA Cup Semi Final Matches
Tottenham vs Manchester United – Saturday 5.15, BBC1
The argument about why the FA Cup semi-finals are played at Wembley takes on extra emphasis this weekend as that decision has technically handed Tottenham home advantage because they’ve been playing their home games there this season. If you remember, it took Tottenham a few matches to warm to their new surroundings, as they took just two-points from their opening three home games against Chelsea, Burnley, and Swansea. It’s been a very different story since that poor opening though, with Tottenham winning 10 of their 13 Premier League home games since then. Tottenham’s FA Cup run hasn’t been without blemishes though as they needed replays against both Newport and Rochdale, though some would say it was almost like they were handing those teams a money-making opportunity.
Manchester United certainly haven’t been as generous to their FA Cup opponents this season, killing off Derby, Yeovil, Huddersfield, and Brighton in clinical fashion without conceding a single goal.
Therefore, the big question is, who will make it to the FA Cup Final? Recent Premier League results suggest playing at home is a massive advantage, as the home team has won the last seven matches between the two sides. The latest of which saw Tottenham dominate in a 2-0 win in January.
However, neither Tottenham nor their manager Mauricio Pochettino have the same amount of big-match experience as Manchester United and Jose Mourinho. It’s a tough call, but it would be nice to see Tottenham rewarded for their entertaining style of football with a trophy this season.
Chelsea vs Southampton – Sunday 3.00, BT Sport
Both teams played on Thursday evening, with Southampton grinding out a point at Leicester to keep their Premier League survival hopes alive. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s win at Burnley will have filled them with confidence that they can rescue their season with their fifth FA Cup Title this century, and maybe even Champions League football next season.
Chelsea are strong favourites to progress to the final, which is no surprise considering they have a much better FA Cup pedigree than Southampton, who lifted the FA Cup for the only time 42 years ago.
Southampton will also have to get over their recent loss to Chelsea, where they squandered a 2-0 lead at home as Chelsea banged in three goals to snatch the spoils. That means Chelsea have won their last five matches against Southampton and it’s hard to see Southampton ending that run here.
Premier League Relegation Battle
West Brom vs Liverpool (Saturday 12.30)
Even if West Brom win all four of their remaining games, the likelihood is they will still be playing in the Championship next season. However, having given themselves a slim lifeline with victory over Manchester United last weekend, they could be confident enough to exploit any lack of commitment from a Liverpool side who play Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday. Liverpool, who need just six-points from their remaining four games to guarantee qualification for next season’s Champions League, look sure to rest important players. Remember, they drew 0-0 with Everton having rested players prior to their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.
Watford vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 3.00)
Mathematically, Watford could still get dragged into the relegation battle, though they need just one-point to reach the supposed safe-zone of 38 points. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace are four-points short of that mythical milestone. It’s Crystal Palace who have very much had the upper-hand in recent matches between the two teams though. They’ve won their last three at home against Watford and are unbeaten in six matches at Watford with three draws and three wins.
Arsenal vs West Ham (Sunday 1.30)
West Ham missed a golden opportunity against Stoke to distance themselves from the pack, and a trip to Arsenal wouldn’t be the first choice for any team looking for points to avoid relegation. Arsenal have won their last two home matches against West Ham and, despite being terrible away from home currently, they’ve won five of their last six home matches. Meanwhile, West Ham did manage to earn a point at Chelsea in their last away match but haven’t been great away from home otherwise.
Stoke vs Burnley (Sunday 1.30)
Stoke earned a valuable point at West Ham in mid-week but probably need at least three wins from their last four matches to have any chance of avoiding relegation. Meanwhile, Burnley blew a chance to leapfrog Arsenal in the Premier League Table when losing to Chelsea on Thursday night. Stoke won this fixture 2-0 in 2016, but an improved Burnley side won this season’s reverse fixture 1-0. Burnley have also won their last three away games against three other bottom-half sides in Watford, West Ham, and West Brom.
Man City vs Swansea (Sunday 4.30)
It will be interesting to see how Manchester City play now that the pressure of winning the Premier League Title has been lifted. They could simply take their foot off the gas for the last few games, or they could turn on the style. The problem for Swansea is that Pep Guardiola loves to break records and, with City needing just nine-points from their final five-games to beat Chelsea’s Premier League record haul of 95-points, he’s likely to spur his team on to break that record with City having nothing else to play for. City have also won nine of their last 10 matches against Swansea. The last three home wins have all finished 2-1, whilst there were three goals in the last four home wins.