The FA Cup might mean a little more to both Chelsea and Manchester United this season – their semi-final this weekend should be fascinating…
In this strangest of seasons, this weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals – to be played at an empty, cavernous, echoey Wembley – will be particularly strange.
There is a certain inevitability that Manchester City, who face Arsenal, will win the whole thing, as they have most other domestic trophies in the last couple of years, but the more interesting semi-final is between Manchester United and Chelsea.
And it’s more interesting because, as Rory Smith pointed out on the latest edition of the Totally Football Show, this is a game between two high-profile, wealthy, occasionally exciting but imperfect teams who share many similarities.
“The thing that strikes me of being true of United and Chelsea is how streaky they are. We know deep down what Manchester United are like at the moment. They’re great going forwards, they’re really good to watch, they’re exciting, they score a lot of goals, but we know they’re flawed, they’re not yet the finished article.
“And the same, to an extent, can be said about Chelsea…it’s a finely-poised between two teams who are interesting because they’re both not perfect.”
Lynsey Hooper added: “With N’Golo Kante missing again for Chelsea I think Frank Lampard is running out of options of how to tactically change things. We saw Callum Hudson-Odoi introduced recently but he hasn’t had that many minutes. They’ve had to rely on the form of Christian Pulisic – he has been great, but if that starts to dip and he suffers from burnout, there aren’t too many other options.”
In a season when both have been off the pace in the league, a trophy would be very welcome for the clubs, but particularly for the respective managers, Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Duncan Alexander said: “They’re both managed by club legends who probably do get cut a bit more slack than a normal manager. But if they win the FA Cup, that will be, imagery-wise, a lovely thing and turn the season into a pretty successful one.
“They probably will have to get past Manchester City in the final, who just seem to scoop up domestic cups with ease, but there’s definitely a big opportunity there.”
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