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With the gap between Chelsea and Tottenham narrowing in the Premier League title race, Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final the clash between the London giants takes on even more significance, with both teams looking for a psychological advantage going into the final weeks of the season.
Chelsea v Tottenham | 22 April 17:15
Chelsea have the best recent FA Cup pedigree, lifting the trophy five times this century (2000, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012) whereas Spurs are winless since 1991 and have the unenviable record of having tasted defeat in their last six semi-final appearances (1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2010 and 2012), including a 5-1 thumping by Chelsea five years ago.
On the downside, the Blues have conceded in all five games since last month’s 1-0 quarter-final verdict over Manchester United, a run that included a shock home defeat by Crystal Palace and a 2-0 reverse at Old Trafford.
Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system, previously so successful this season, was expertly countered by Jose Mourinho and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will take heart from that result.
Wembley is becoming like a second home to Spurs – they played their home Europa League games here this season – and look the value to edge what should be a close affair. Harry Kane, one of two first goalscorer price boosts (see below), was on the scoresheet in the 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth last week and is taken to bag the opener.
Arsenal v Manchester City | 23 April 15:00
Sunday’s second FA Cup semi-final features two other Premier League highflyers in the shape of Manchester City and Arsenal, fourth and sixth in the current standings.
Both teams have enjoyed plenty of FA Cup success in recent years, with Arsenal lifting the trophy in 2014 and 2015, and City seeing off Stoke in 2011. There hasn’t been much between the two sides in the Premier League this season, with City edging it 2-1 at home in December before a 2-2 draw at the Emirates.
Manchester City have overcome three Premier League rivals on the way to Wembley – West Ham, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough, all without conceding a goal and the only blip was the 0-0 draw with Huddersfield in the fourth round. They made no mistake in the replay, thrashing the Championship promotion contenders 5-1.
Arsenal’s route to the semis has certainly been a simpler one, with non-league opponents in round five (Sutton United) and at the quarter-final stage (Lincoln City).
With their usual fourth-place in the Premier League looking in severe doubt this year, Arsene Wenger will be desperately keen to add another FA Cup to his trophy collection but it’s still difficult to see the Gunners having the upper hand. City can land the spoils, narrowly, with price boost (see below) Alexis Sanchez taken to score first.