FA Cup Semi-Finals Preview: On The Road To Wembley...At Wembley.

16 April 2009

I haven't had a proper chance to rant about this topic, so tonight I shall. The FA Cup Semi-Finals should not be at Wembley Stadium.

Say what you want to about the FA Cup, I simply love the competition. Sure with all the money in the Premier League, the competition for the top flight clubs is heading down the road of the League Cup (if it isn't already there now). But I'll always love the competition. It was this competition where I heard my first commentary for the team I support (2001-02 FA Cup: Tottenham v Chelsea). No matter who's still involved, I still look forward to each round of the knock out competition.

The semi-finals should be a good day out for supporters. No matter if the games were at Old Trafford or at Villa Park (the two semi-final venues I'm use to the most), they always seemed to be special occasions. Knowing that you were one victory away from going to Wembley (or Cardiff) seemed to bring out the best in players.

Enter the New Wembley Stadium and enter the 2008 semi-finals. A decision that I will question until the end of time was made to host both semi-finals at Wembley. Immediately the reward of making it to the FA Cup final was bastardized into a trivial semi-final. What's so special about the final at Wembley if you've just played the semi-final there? Are the FA that desperate to pay off the note on the place?

The semi-finals at Wembley only adds fuel to those who argue the FA Cup has lost it luster. Some might say that moving the FA Cup Final out of England started this trend, but I respond to that by saying it isn't that much of a stretch to move the final to a city that has a team in the English football ladder. What is wrong with using Old Trafford, Villa Park or the Emirates? The answer is the FA needing to pay off a stadium that was well late in being built.

So how do these FA Cup Semi-Finals play out? Let's take a look.

Arsenal v Chelsea (Saturday 12:15 pm on Setanta Sports): Chelsea has a serious problem right now in central defense. It doesn't help either Petr Cech is going through a spell where he has become the team's biggest liability. Arsenal's central defense without Gallas will have a fun time trying to contain Drogba or Anelka, whomever is central. Arsenal has beaten Chelsea in their last six in the competition. With Adebayor and Walcott, I expect that to be number seven...in a rout. Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1.

Manchester United v Everton (Sunday 11:00 am on Fox Soccer Channel): This is a very tricky game for Manchester United. They just got done with a tricky Porto side and have a game against Portsmouth midweek to increase their lead at the top of the Premier League. Everton will think they have a serious chance at winning. However with Jo cup tied, I wonder who up front can get the goals. Oh what am I saying, that hasn't stopped them before. Will the quad dream die here for Manchester United? I don't think so, but it won't be for a lack of trying...and extra time. Manchester United 3 Everton 2 after extra time.

Who do you think will be playing in the FA Cup final? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


jason_150457 April 17, 2009 at 2:03 AM  

Arsenal Everton.(Walcott,Adebayor,Jo,Fellani) enough said

Why? Petr Cech's season as a gk is essentially over(look at the bolton and liverpool 2ndleg performance)so Chelsea is done.

Man U could depend on Rooney and Macheda(again) or another wonderstrike from Ronny, other than that, cant see where the goals are coming from(Berbatov's been average, Scholes,Giggs and Park not playing enough)

Ivan April 17, 2009 at 2:21 AM  

after checking out the squads, maybe not.

Arsenal Man U then, my comments abt chelsea still stand. Everton without Jo= a car with no engine, of cos they have cahill but...

Mando April 17, 2009 at 2:26 AM  

Great job Johnathan. I agree, despite the CL wins, ManU and Chelsea are shells of the teams they were last year. Shocking I say. Could be Arsenal v Everton? Maybe

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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