FA Cup title would be a good way to make a bad season a little bit better, and no doubt the team that win this semi-final clash will be the favourites in the final. Manchester City go into the game in better spirits having beaten United at Old Trafford, but Chelsea will also feel confidence ahead of the crunch tie at Wembley in spite of losing to Rubin Kazan in midweek.
Chelsea might just be able to save this season if they can go all the way in the FA Cup and Europa League, but it is not as if they are favourites to win either of the two competitions. The Blues have been showing some promise of late, with everybody at the club delighted to see Fernando Torres scoring again, but it might be important to note that Rafa Benitez’s side are winless in last four away fixtures, losing three of those, which could be a cause for concern as they prepare for the short trip to Wembley. The Spanish manager surprisingly used both Ramires and Lampard from the start in Kazan, which could mean that one of them is likely to be left out of the side for the City clash. Benitez should, nonetheless, have plenty of fresh players returning to the side, with Ivanovic, Mata, Oscar and Hazard among those likely to be recalled. Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill continue to miss out, but Demba Ba and Ryan Bertran have recovered from their respective ailments. As things stand now, Benitez could field the same side that started the Sunderland match last weekend, meaning that Frank Lampard might have to settle for a place on the bench.
Even if numerous pundits are keen to point out that City chiefs have no reason to sack Roberto Mancini, I just don’t see the reasoning behind such thinking. The Italian manager has once again splashed the cash on new players, while all the key footballers remained in the summer, and yet his team have failed in almost every competition this term. Not even the 2-1 victory at Old Trafford will mean much given that City are trailing their arch rivals by 12 points, while the bottom-place finish in their Champions League group, no matter how strong it was, has got to be considered a major failure. I seriously doubt the FA Cup title would make this season much better for the Citizens, but they obviously plan to give their best to try and avoid a trophyless campaign. The weekend’s triumph at Old Trafford could be just the boost the team need to produce a solid display against Chelsea, although a lot will be riding on whether David Silva can prove his fitness. The Spaniard is a major doubt with a hamstring problem, while Douglas Maicon, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell are not yet ready to return.
Having failed to score a goal against Manchester City this season, Chelsea might have to work hard to avoid another poor attacking display, while City are likely to miss the creativity of one David Silva. With both sides under pressure due to the importance of the match, there is a good chance we will see an uneventful encounter at Wembley.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1