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FA Cup semi-finals: Chelsea and Man Utd look to salvage disappointing season

All eyes fall on the iconic Wembley Stadium this weekend as the FA Cup semi-finals make their way to London.

Out of 124 teams to have started the main competition in November, only four are left, including reigning champions Manchester City and their fierce cross-city rivals Manchester United.

The famous Manchester clubs could meet in the final on May 25 if they can negotiate their last-four ties against Chelsea and Coventry City, respectively. 

Left to pick up the slack after a gut-wrenching Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola’s men take on Chelsea on Saturday in a game you can watch via FA Cup live streams.

Man Utd will be up against second-tier Coventry the following day after reaching the competition’s semi-finals for the second season on the bounce for the first time in nearly two decades. 

Clash of Titans

Only last weekend, Man City’s dreams of an unprecedented second consecutive treble seemed firmly on track. 

Guardiola’s side took advantage of their closest Premier League title competitors’ slip-ups to go two points clear at the Premier League’s summit with a 5-1 thrashing of Luton Town.

However, their fairytale turned into a nightmare in midweek Champions League action as Madrid upset the apple cart at the Etihad Stadium to crash them out of the semi-finals. 

Making amends for that devastating European night will be at the forefront of Man City’s minds in their sixth successive FA Cup semi-final appearance. 

As was the case against Los Blancos, the Cityzens are odds-on to get into the win column, but Chelsea’s form resurgence ought to pour more misery on their more heavily fancied opposition. 

Ex-Man City starlet Cole Palmer grabbed the headlines in the build-up to this fixture, inspiring the Blues to an overwhelming 6-0 home win against Everton with a stunning quadruple. 

Unbeaten in all eight competitive outings since a dramatic defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup final, Mauricio Pochettino’s troops are confident of extending their formidable run in the FA Cup semi-finals.

They’ve emerged victorious from their last five last-four ties since their most recent failure in 2012/13, which ominously came against none other than Man City.

David vs Goliath

With Erik ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford on the line, anything other than a win against FA Cup surprise package Coventry could spell the end of the Dutchman’s career at Man Utd. 

United’s last triumph in this competition dates back to 2016, though they came agonisingly close to lifting their 13th title in 2022/23, only for Man City to condemn them to a runner-up finish. 

Having lost just two of their last 52 FA Cup ties against lower-league opponents, they should replicate last season’s run and secure another shot at football’s oldest cup title. 

But it’s not a foregone conclusion. 

Since their breathless 4-3 extra-time triumph against Liverpool in the quarter-finals, the Red Devils’ form has plunged into disarray, resulting in a four-game winless streak.

Describing Coventry’s quarter-final success against Wolverhampton Wanderers as breathless would be an understatement.

Mark Robins’ side were 2-1 down at Molineux heading into stoppage time but scored twice beyond the 97th minute to eke out a 3-2 win and reach the FA Cup last four for only the second time in their history. 

Robins, of all people, understands the size of the occasion.

His extra-time winner in the 1990 final against Crystal Palace didn’t just give Man Utd their seventh FA Cup title but perhaps saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job.

Whether it was fate or mere chance, Robins’ path intertwines with another under-pressure United manager, though this time, the outcome could be the opposite. 

The former Man Utd striker could put the final nail in Ten Hag’s coffin if Coventry can beat the odds and take their dream FA Cup campaign all the way to the final.

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