Manchester United v Tottenham
As a fan, I usually encourage the tougher draws but on United’s current form I can’t pretend that I wasn’t praying for Southampton to be our Wembley opponents.
I think Tottenham were the ones I most wanted to avoid. I’m confident in United beating Chelsea anywhere away from Stamford Bridge so a clash with Jose Mourinho’s former club would not have been too worrying.
Spurs beat United at Wembley in January, an early goal from their most underrated player in Christian Eriksen ensured that the red devils would be playing catch-up for the rest of the game and a Phil Jones own goal sealed the win for Spurs, there was no way back.
I was confident that United would have fared a lot better in that game had Eriksen not scored so soon and forced them to change their approach. It is nice to know that Manchester United will be given an opportunity to prove it, especially with a place in the FA Cup final up for grabs.
People will see Spurs at Wembley as a disadvantage to United, but I think their opponents could use it as an advantage. It adds a bit of pressure to the game for them, a bit more expectation surrounds the club seen as they’ve used the stadium all season.
Chelsea v Southampton
It’s easy to write Chelsea off and suggest that the eventual FA Cup winners will come from the previous game, but I don’t think it will be that straightforward.
I was displeased, as I always am, at the negative football Conte brings to his team. The negativity was again on display after they took a lead against Leicester today and it came back to bite them.
Chelsea were taken to extra time after Jamie Vardy’s equaliser, frustrating that they’d practically invite such an occurrence in a FA Cup knockout game, why not go for a second and win the tie? Eden Hazard was particularly poor, whilst Willian is looking like Chelsea’s brightest spark lately and that is worrying.
The FA Cup is the only silverware Chelsea have to play for this season, as is the case with the other three teams remaining in the competition, but more so Chelsea of the big three as Spurs and United look likely to close the season in the Champions League places and whilst it’s still a possibility for the Blues to finish fourth, they will see this as an opportunity to cloud the poor defence of the Premier League title that has been this season.
Southampton should be up for this, a pleasant distraction from the relegation battle they have found themselves in. With Mark Hughes as manager, their fortunes should take a turn and you’d like to think they’ll be a confident side going into this game.
I would not rule them out, especially if Chelsea approach the game unwilling to risk losing on the quest for a win, as they tend to do.
I think even the broadcasters would love to promote ‘Mourinho v Conte: The final chapter(?)’. The story writes itself but is football so kind? We’ll have to wait and see.
Written by Jordan Hackett
Follow Jordan on Twitter @Devildart180
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