Two Wembley Semi Finals, but which two teams make the FA Cup Final?
This weekend is a big one for four Premier League teams in particular as Manchester United and Tottenham, plus Chelsea and Southampton will battle it out across the two FA Cup Semi Finals taking place at Wembley Stadium this weekend. The prize on offer, a trip back to Wembley in May to battle it out with the other winning semi-finalist to become the 2018 FA Cup Winners.
For Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea, this is their last chance at securing some silverware in what has been an occasionally difficult season for the teams. Chelsea’s problematic performances in the Premier League has left them requiring a miracle to clinch one of the top four spots, while United and Spurs, both who harboured ambitions of a shot at the Premier League title are both miles off the pace set by Manchester City and all three teams have been eliminated from the Champions League, United losing to Seville, Chelsea to Barcelona and Spurs were knocked out by Juventus.
For Southampton though, the problems they face are somewhat different. Five points adrift of safety in the Premier League and with just one win in 18 Premier League games, the Saints are battling for their existence in the top tier of English soccer so this FA Cup Semi-final is a distraction for Mark Hughes team, although whether it is a welcome or unwelcome one is unclear.
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So, assuming you have got your Coral account sorted, how will the two semi-finals this weekend shape up and who will make it through each to contest the FA Cup Final? Let’s preview each of the two games and give you our tips on who will win through in each case, as well as a couple of other tips that we feel are well worth a flutter. All odds provided are courtesy of Coral Sport.
Saturday 21st April
Manchester United (23/10) v Tottenham Hotspur (23/20) (23/10 the draw)
- Kick Off – 5.15pm
- Live on – BBC 1
- Venue – Wembley Stadium
- Manchester United Form – L W W W L W
- Tottenham Hotspur Form – W W W W L D
- Previous Results – Man Utd 1–0 Tottenham (Aug 2017), Tottenham 2-0 Man Utd (Jan 2018)
Manchester United – (4-3-3) – De Gea, Valencia, Young, Smalling, Jones, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Sanchez, Lingard, Lukaku
Tottenham Hotspur – (4-3-3) – Lloris, Trippier, Davies, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Dembele, Dier, Eriksen, Alli, Kane, Son
Jose Mourinho said that places in his FA Cup Semifinal team were up for grabs against Bournemouth in midweek, but those players coming into the team following United’s shock 1-0 home loss to West Brom didn’t really cover themselves in glory and as such, I think Mourinho will likely revert to his most tried and trusted line up.
Paul Pogba’s performance probably assured himself of a place in the team, the much-criticised Frenchman along with Herrera, played much better against Bournemouth and likely secured his place. I also expect the likes of Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to return to the United side.
Spurs drew 1-1 with Brighton on Tuesday night in what was a disappointing performance from a much-changed side. Like Mourinho, I expect Pochettino to bring back several players missing at Brighton, notably Dier, Alli and Dembele in midfield and also Kieran Trippier at full back.
The two games between the teams this season have result in home wins so this will be the first game on ‘neutral’ territory, although that is slightly misleading given that Spurs have played all their home games at Wembley this season. However for this game Spurs are the designated away team and the fan split will be more even, which could have an influence on the game.
I expect this one to be a very tight affair and it could well require extra time and even penalties to decide the winner. I think Spurs playing at Wembley and having an extra 24-hours to recover from midweek may just tip the balance in their favour in extra time.
Top Tip – Manchester United v Tottenham – Draw (after 90 minutes) – 23/10 with Coral
Correct Score Tip – 1-1 (11/2)
Sunday 22nd April
Chelsea (4/9) v Southampton (6/1) (16/5 the draw)
- Kick Off – 3pm
- Live on – BT Sport 1
- Venue – Wembley Stadium
- Chelsea Form – W L W L D W
- Southampton Form – D L W L L L
- Previous Results – Chelsea 1-0 Southampotn (Dec 2017), Southampton 2-3 Chelsea (April 2018)
Chelsea – (4-3-3) – Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Christensen, Zappacosta, Palmieri, Kante, Fabregas, Willian, Hazard, Morata
Southampton (4-5-1) – McCarthy, Bednarek, Bertrand, Yoshida, Hoedt, Cedric, Romeu, Hobjerg, Ward Prowse, Tadic, Long
These two teams clashed just last weekend with Chelsea coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 thanks to a fabulous spell of goals from the 70th minute onward. Sub Olivier Giroud was the inspiration grabbing two goals (including the winner) after replacing Morata with Eden Hazard grabbing the second goal to level the game up.
That defeat was a hammer blow for Southampton who had led 2-0 thanks to goals from Tadic and Bednarek but once again their defensive frailties were easy to see once Giroud came on and his physicality and ability to link up with the midfield players proved key here.
The Saints have a dismal record against Chelsea over the years with just two wins from the last 19 matches between the teams. Chelsea have won 12 over that period with five games drawn.
With both teams playing at the same time on Thursday night, neither will have the advantage of being more fresh than the other heading into this game, although Chelsea can elect to rest players for their game with Burnley should they wish to do so. Southampton though cannot, needing wins to stay in the Premier League and facing a tough trip to Leicester on the same night.
In truth, I don’t see any way Southampton can win this one. Chelsea are not playing particularly well at the moment and I think Conte’s insistence in starting with Morata ahead of Giroud is hurting Chelsea more than it is helping them, but even so, the Southampton back line is short on confidence at the moment and if they cannot beat Chelsea from 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go at home, I cannot see them doing so over 90 minutes at a neutral venue.
Top Tip – Chelsea to win and both teams to score – 12/5 with Coral
Correct Score Tip – Chelsea to win 3-1 – 11/1 with Coral