By News Team
15th April 2021
We’re down to the business end of the FA Cup and while there isn’t a lower league side on a magic run, there are three clubs taking their place in the semi-final spots that sit in the top five in the Premier League, so we’re in for a treat.
We preview the fixtures from this weekend’s semi-finals.
Pep v Tuchel: tacticians at play
Chelsea arrive into their semi-final against Manchester City on the back of their second defeat under manager Thomas Tuchel. However, they will be hopeful of bouncing back in the first of this weekend’s semi-finals.
The west London side’s fixture against Premier League leaders City gets underway on Saturday afternoon and Tuchel will be hoping he can continue the solid start he’s made with Chelsea by reaching the final, having qualified for the last four of the Champions League this week. City will, of course, have other ideas and with their stunning Premier League campaign reaching its culmination, quadruple hungry manager Pep Guardiola will demand a crack at his 30th career trophy in the final. Both sides will be desperate for that spot in the last two and with both managers tactically focused, it looks poised to be a thriller.
The two teams have met each other six times in the FA Cup and City firmly hold the cards from a head-to head stance. On four occasions, the Manchester side have had the better of the London club, however, in their last meeting in 2016 it was Chelsea that had the last laugh. They finished the fixture with a 5-1 triumph and any sort of repeat of that score line would see some hefty odds landed. On an outright win, though, it is City who are unsurprisingly the firm favourites at 3/4 while Chelsea, the 19/5 underdogs, will be looking for an FA Cup upset of sorts in their quest for a place in the final against Leicester City or Southampton.
Saints look to evade the cunning Foxes
One of the teams separating first-placed City and fifth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League are third-placed Leicester City, who have had a fine run throughout this season, though have shown signs of fatigue of late. Sitting further down the table is Southampton, who, while struggling, do have the current bragging rights from when these sides last met in the FA Cup, when it was the Saints that walked away victorious. That was back in 2012 and it would be fair to say a lot has changed at Leicester City since then and the south-coast side can expect a far tougher ride.
The two sides have met in the FA Cup seven times in total with each club recording three wins and one draw so as we go into this semi-final, historically, all things are square. One side will have to walk away not only as a semi-final loser but knowing their head-to-head record in the competition has been lost. Brendan Rogers’ side come into the game as favourites at 19/20 while Southampton are underdogs at 29/10.
Leicester have taken a lot out of this season so far with a potential top-four finish in the Premier League up for grabs and an exciting squad in the making, however with that comes pressure and complacency, not least when the heights of semi-finals are reached. On the other hand, while Southampton have had a lacklustre season, they know their place in next year’s Premier League is secured. Perhaps they have that freedom to perform and this is their chance at glory for a generation of Saints supporters. They have won only one major trophy in the club’s history and that was the FA Cup back in 1976.
With both sides looking to bookend their season, with a trophy it should be an all-out scrap. The quality may not be as high as Saturday’s first semi-final, but the passion will surely make up for it.