Chelsea didn’t manage to score a goal against Manchester City in the two Premier League games between the sides this season and will need to put that right if they are to enhance an already excellent recent record in the FA Cup. The Blues have lost just one FA Cup tie in the last three years and City, ironically, won the trophy that season.
Millwall reached the FA Cup Final in 2004 but it was staged at the Millennium Stadium that year. They had also just been relegated to League One and won’t want history to repeat itself, even if they manage to upset Wigan Athletic in the first semi-final this weekend.
The goals usually flow when Chelsea take on Manchester United. In their last seven meetings, 34 have been scored including nine in a remarkable League Cup tie at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.
The domestic cup competitions have been very good to Liverpool this season, which as just as well as their Premier League form has swung from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Tuesday’s home defeat by Fulham was again accompanied by murmurings of discontent on the Kop, though Kenny Dalglish made nine changes that night from the team that had won impressively at Norwich just three days earlier and you wouldn’t have imagined any of the stand-ins did enough to force themselves into the manager’s thinking for Wembley against the Cottagers.
Chelsea face Liverpool in the Wembley showpiece and the Blues are the 7/5 favourites.
On the day of the Grand National, the streets of Liverpool are going to be abandoned to interlopers with more than 80,000 Merseysiders heading down the M6 to Wembley for the first of the weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals.
Liverpool are our 11/8 favourites to go through the final without the need for extra time or penalties, but the form book suggests it’s neighbours Everton who are the team to back.
While the authorities in other countries will bend over backwards to ensure their teams have every chance of achieving European success, it appears the FA still believes that the rest of the continent should arrange their fixture around the English programme!
The FA Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend with two local derbies in prospect. Liverpool play Everton on Saturday and while the Reds may be the 6/4 favourites, Everton are the form team. I fancy David Moyes’ side to prevail at 15/8.
Considering the teams they could have been drawn out of the hat against, Everton are probably viewing a home draw against Sunderland as a favourable one. David Moyes probably had one eye on this game when naming his team to play Liverpool on Tuesday night, making six changes for the short trip across Stanley Park, though would never admit as much.
Chelsea’s stuttering form in the Premier League and Europe means that their FA Cup replay against Birmingham City at St Andrews now takes on added significance. Owing to his side’s uncharacteristically indifferent season, Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas admits that he has no idea if he’ll be in the job next season. Let’s be honest, owner Roman Abrahamovic doesn’t appear to have a lot of patience with his managers if things start to go awry and things haven’t gone well with the current incumbent in his efforts to bring in new blood.
Chelsea have only won two of their last 10 games and have a Champions League encounter with Napoli next week so it’s unclear how much Andre Villas-Boas will be prioritising this weekend’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Birmingham City.
Following last week’s defeat at Everton, the Londoners are now 17 points off the pace in the Premier League so that trophy looks well out of their grasp.
Stevenage are renowned FA Cup giant-killers and will be relishing the arrival of Tottenham Hotspur at Broadhall Way. The League One side have already accounted for Hartlepool, Stourbridge, Reading and Notts County en route to the fifth round and will fancy their chances of a further upset against Spurs, who are likely to give several of their regular starting XI a rest ahead of a busy Premier League schedule.