FA cup semi-final previews

The FA cup returns this weekend with an exciting round of fixtures set in store. The fixtures are the competition’s most competitive final rounds in the last few years.

The North side of London and Manchester will be competing for glory as Arsenal face off against Manchester City and Manchester United play Chelsea.

I give my thoughts on both fixtures as an exciting weekend of football awaits.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Well this one could be predictable…

After a torrid return to football, Arsenal have looked much improved since their defeat to Brighton and despite a 2-1 loss to Spurs, they will go into this game with decent spirits.

They have looked more resolute in defence overall, a mistake for Tottenham’s opener can’t be forgotten. Ultimately, you would expect Manchester City to tear them apart much akin to the match played last month.

Pep Guardiola’s side have been rather inconsistent with their results, smashing Burnley and Liverpool but losing to Southampton and Chelsea – in both games they looked fairly shaky in defence.

Having said that, Guardiola has an imperious record when it comes to the domestic cup competitions. The Citizens have won eight out of a possible nine trophies (including Community Shields). They have also only lost one game at Wembley under Guardiola – although it was to Arsenal.

Such a record cannot be understated considering the venue and Gunner’s recent record against Manchester City makes for grim viewing for Arsenal fans.

The last time Arsenal won was in the 2017 FA Cup semi-final. Since then, they have played seven times – with City winning all of them and scoring three goals in six of those matches. They’ve also only conceded twice.

While Arsenal look improved under Mikel Arteta, the quality City possess is simply too much for this current crop of players for the red side of North London. I will expect them to put up a spirited fight but Manchester City’s near faultless record will continue.

Bukayo Saka offers them a great outlet and being potentially put up against an inconsistent Benjamin Mendy could be an interesting battle. City’s forward options should have no issues against Arsenal’s shaky defence.

David Luiz and Sead Kolasinac had a poor game against Spurs and they will be in trouble against much better opposition. Midfield also remains an area of question for Arsenal, coming up against Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Fernandinho, etc. will hopefully make for entertaining viewing from a neutral standpoint.

Arsenal will be boosted after their impressive win against champions Liverpool, but their poor record will stand true with this fixture.

Score Prediction: Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester United vs Chelsea

United are coming into this game in terrific form, despite dropping points against Southampton they’ve scored goals for fun and at times looked defensively resolute.

Chelsea have been in decent form too but have shown plenty of inconsistency, losing to West Ham and Sheffield United. They look weak at times and can struggle in front of goal, whilst their midfield hasn’t been as effective as before.

Their options in attack are strong too, Christian Pulisic has been in inspired form since the restart. Hakim Ziyech is training with the club but isn’t allowed to take part in the remaining fixtures.

Manchester United are also gifted in attack, they have one of the most in form front threes in Europe and a brilliant midfield duo in Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. Chelsea have shown fragility in defence so you could see United causing them plenty of problems.

Chelsea, like Arsenal, don’t have a great record against their opponents, in fact the last time they beat United was the 2018 FA Cup final. A very odd similar set of circumstances.

Since then, they’ve lost four out of six meetings – drawing the other two. They’ve actually lost their last three encounters, with an aggregate score of 8-1.

Frank Lampard will see this as the best chance of silverware this season. Chelsea are all but out of the Champions League, so this remains their only hope of domestic or European success.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær does have the option of the Europa League but I’m sure another trophy to fight for would be ideal to try and get United back to the force they were.

This game is huge for both clubs and managers, so should make for a tense contest. Both sides need silverware and their managers need some success to give themselves more time and improve their reputation.

With the fight for the Champions League places approaching a tense finish, this result could give the winner a huge mental edge when it comes to ending the season on a high.

I think United’s recent record and current form will get them through this game – although it will be very close.

Score Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea


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