Football fans are in for a treat this weekend as four of the best teams in English football descend on Wembley Stadium for the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the bookmakers are having a difficulty picking a winner.
This weekend, football fans are in for a real treat as four of the best teams in English football battle it out for a place in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.
Man City v Arsenal
Chelsea v Spurs
Which game would you watch?
It’s a tough choice, and one the BBC had to make as the broadcaster who had the pick of the two matches when it came to choosing a tie to fit the 5 pm Saturday night slot. They decided on the tie between Chelsea and Spurs much to the chagrin of Manchester City fans.
According to The Daily Mail, City has still not sold out their full allocation of tickets with approx. 2,000 of them still in limbo land from an allocation of 33,000. It seems City fans, who have to make the 400 miles round trip for a Sunday 3 pm kick off are none too happy.
On the one hand, I understand the fuss. The Sunday afternoon slot clashes with the London Marathon making travel arrangements somewhat tricky. But with a 3 pm kick off, you still have plenty of time to get North to South and return via public transport, whereas a Saturday night slot means a night in an expensive London hotel unless you are taking the coach or driving by car.
And isn’t the best part of travelling to Wembley to watch your team play the travelling to Wembley to watch your team play? In my youth, it was the only part of the day I would remember, with the alcohol robbing me of any golden memories.
As a neutral who refuses to pay BT a penny to watch football because their customer service makes me want to put my hand in my Vitamix, I’m glad the BBC chose the Chelsea v Spurs tie because I get to watch it.
What I don’t like, as a fan of football, is the broadcast wars mean I won’t get to watch the second semi-final because I don’t have BT Sports. It’s a little like showing the two-part finale of the Harry Potter Series with one film shown on BBC and the other on BTSport, and it honestly pisses me off.
A Chance For Spurs to Show Their True Potential
Back to matters on the pitch and Saturday night’s clash against Chelsea is the game where Spurs can show the world where they stand in the echelons of English football at this moment than Eckhart Tolle keeps banging on about.
After the weekend, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte called Spurs the best team in England after they hammered Bournemouth 4-0 to close the gap on the Champions-elect to only four points with six games remaining in the chase for the Premier League title.
Spurs is the in-form side in the Premier League, winning seven successive games, scoring 22 goals and conceding only 4. They have lost fewer games than any other team in the division (3) and conceded fewer (22). At the other end of the pitch, only Liverpool has scored more goals, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-Min hitting the back of the net with their eyes closed.
With Chelsea losing to Man Utd on the weekend – their second loss in the last four league games – a defeat against Spurs, albeit in the FA Cup, could create a crack in the armour wide enough for this rampant Spurs side to score a fatal wound.
Chelsea has been imperious all season with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard back to the form that went wandering under Jose Mourinho last season, but Spurs have kept up with their pace all the way.
Jose Mourinho showed the way to beat Spurs is to inject pace into a slow backline while cutting off the supply line in Eden Hazard. In Eric Dier, they have the perfect man for the role and Spurs attack with pace with the two full backs making the pitch as big as possible allowing the creative genius of Christian Eriksen to arrow balls to the top three with the pinpoint accuracy of a Spiderman web sling.
The only problem for Spurs is the location of the game.
It’s everyone’s dream home except Spurs, who has won once at the 90,000 seater stadium in the past ten visits, losing seven times, including dismal Champions League home performances against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen this season.
The bookies can’t split them, but I am going to go with a Spurs win in extra time with Harry Kane coming up with the goods like he always does (unless he is wearing an England shirt in major finals).
Man City Should Dispose of Arsenal
Back to the those complaining about the long slog, and I think Man City will make it to the final of the FA Cup for the first time since 2013 when they put a smile on the face of the neutral by losing 1-0 to relegated Wigan Athletic.
Arsenal holds the joint record for most FA Cup wins (12) and most appearance in an FA Cup Final (19) with Man Utd, but Man City are in fine form lately. Even during the recent draw with Arsenal and the defeat against Chelsea, City had more than enough chances to win both ties and scared the living hell out of their opponents in both games.
There aren’t too many teams that can attack with the pace and power of City and with Sergio Aguero at the front of their spine they have one of the best forwards in world football. But City has major problems at the back, and the one reason I am picking them for this tie is the return to the side of Vincent Kompany.
Arsenal will be looking to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to have big games for the club. You can guarantee the Chilean will step up to the plate, but the German often goes missing in these big games. But from a team perspective, the Gunners don’t have the same firepower as their Northern enemies. I see more pain and frustration etched on the face of Arsene Wenger when the final whistle comes, and the City fans head back up North with all the complaints of travelling to the capital lost in the noise of We’re All On Our Way to Wembley (Again).
Here are the odds courtesy of Bodog
Man City -125
FA Cup Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City +200