The FA Cup semi-finals will be held in late April, and while most football fans are still focused primarily on domestic league competitions, it’s an event that deserves a little more attention than usual. Four top-tier clubs secured spots in the semis this time around, which should make for some thrilling action when the matches commence. Saturday, April 22 will give us Chelsea versus Tottenham Hotspur, with Arsenal and Manchester City to follow the next morning. Here are a few thoughts ahead of the action.
This Is An Unusually Strong Semi-Final
The FA Cup is usually a chance for some of the smaller English clubs to break through and get a chance at a championship, and for some supporters that’s what makes it fun. But comparing this year’s semi-final field to those from years past makes this one look particularly thrilling. In 2016 we saw Everton vs. Man Utd. and Crystal Palace against Watford. 2015 saw Reading take on Arsenal while Aston Villa faced off against Liverpool. 2014 had Wigan and Arsenal play in addition to Hull and Sheffield, and in 2013, Millwall fought Wigan and Chelsea battled Man City. To have an FA Cup semi-final with four teams from the top 10 in the EPL table (top six at the time of this writing, in fact) could make for some real stirring competition.
Arsenal Could Have An Edge
The Gunners don’t look particularly strong in this batch of four teams, but they may have an edge of sorts. To begin with, they’ve won this event twice in the last five years, and that type of experience never hurts. They’ve also played Manchester City fairly evenly in the last few years. In a preview of the quarter-final included at a platform featuring expert opinions and strategic advice it was noted that Man City might push harder than usual for the FA Cup given that it’s unlikely to win any other silverware. However, the same can certainly be said for Arsenal. At any rate, the second semi-final could be the most compelling, even though the first features the EPL’s top two teams at the moment.
Tottenham May Be The Most In Form Team
With wins in its last three league matches (not counting a postponement) and a dominant 6-0 win over Millwall in the quarter-finals, Tottenham may actually be the side exhibiting the best form heading into the FA Cup semis. A lot can change in the weeks leading up to the matches, but no one should overlook the Spurs simply because they’re a small step below the other three contenders in terms of club prestige.
The EPL Will Shape How This Goes
These four clubs are strong enough that any of them could win on any given day, but keep an eye on the EPL standings in the coming weeks if you’re curious as to who ought to have the edge. If Chelsea’s points lead should narrow at all, expect the Blues to hold back resources for the FA Cup and focus on the main prize of winning the league. If Chelsea is clear in first place it might go for both titles. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Man City will already be looking at the FA Cup as the last chance for a 2017 championship (which again should make the second semi-final particularly interesting).
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