Manchester United And Chelsea Can Progress In The FA Cup

Manchester United And Chelsea Can Progress In The FA Cup
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Manchester United And Chelsea Can Progress In The FA Cup

 

The average finishing position of the FA Cup winners during the Premier League era is 4th. The runners-up averaged seventh place so the competition has been dominated by teams from the upper echelons of the league. Three of the four semi-finalists are in the top five so the averages will be maintained or bettered. The exception is Southampton who are playing in the semi-finals this weekend and are in the bottom three and facing the nightmare scenario of a drop into the Championship.

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Southampton meet Chelsea on Sunday while Manchester United clash in the other semi-final the previous day. If the bookmakers have got things right Tottenham and Chelsea will meet at Wembley in the final next month. The semi-finals were traditionally played on a neutral ground around the country. However, Wembley holds the most fans so it makes sense to accommodate as many spectators as possible. The big teams are used to playing in the major stadiums so the venue is fine.

 

There is another argument that playing the last four ties at the national stadium devalues the final. However, football has changed and is now more fan friendly in terms of getting in. There are two London clubs left in the competition and Southampton is about an hour from the capital. Only United fans will be making a long journey, even though most of them apparently live in the south. The waters are muddied by the fact that Tottenham play their home matches at Wembley.

 

United and Spurs are safely ensconced in the top 4 and Champions League football is a certainty. United won four league matches on the bounce before losing to West Brom at Old Trafford. However, there was nothing at stake for the home team and West Brom was desperate for points. It was a case of motivation and desire winning over skill and ability. The result has very little relevance to the Cup match, except that Jose Mourinho is threatening to drop some regulars.

 

Tottenham were also on a good run before the home defeat to Manchester City in their last league fixture. They were playing at Brighton on Tuesday evening but the main interest was would Harry Kane score and get closer to Mo Salah in the scoring charts. Tottenham are virtually playing a home game but in fact it is a neutral venue but Manchester United can return home with another Cup final on the horizon. It’s not clear if Spurs will get changed in the home dressing room but defeat is looming.

 

It’s difficult to see beyond Chelsea beating Southampton in the other tie. The Saints are the only team in the Premier League to have lost their last four matches so a dip in form is coming at the wrong time. For years Southampton punched above their weight but the conveyor belt of players seems to have stopped. Chelsea are inconsistent but will have enough to beat Southampton and progress to the final at which point they will play United in a repeat of the 1994 final.

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