Wembley will be the setting for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals. There’s a clear favourite in the first, but the second is far too close to call.
Manchester City vs Brighton - Saturday, 17:30 kick-off
It often feels like City are coasting through games in second gear; in the Champions League against Schalke, and in the Premier League against Fulham and Cardiff. Strangely, the only side who really got them going in recent weeks were Swansea in the FA Cup quarter-finals. At the Liberty Stadium, Pep Guardiola’s team had to fight back from 2-0 down to win. But they did it, and before extra-time too, to keep their Quadruple hopes alive. So, even if Sergio Agüero isn’t fit enough to start, what chance to Brighton really have of beating City in the FA Cup semi-finals?
The Seagulls go into this game on the back of 2 Premier League defeats: at home to Southampton and then away at Chelsea. It’s not exactly ideal preparation, but at least Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert got a bit of a rest before the big day. Those two will be key, especially if Solly March and Florin Andone are both missing through injury. All in all, the signs don’t look good for Chris Hughton’s side. Brighton only scraped into the FA Cup semi-finals after beating Championship strugglers Millwall on penalties. If they’re not careful, City could blow them away inside the first 10 minutes, like they did to Fulham and Cardiff.
Watford vs Wolves - Sunday, 16:00 kick-off
7th meets 8th in the second – and more exciting - of the FA Cup semi-finals. Watford and Wolves have plenty in common: excellent managers, clear game-plans, and tight-knit squads. So, this match will either be a fiercely-fought epic or a cagey, tense affair. We’d all love the former, but the latter looks more likely.
Watford won this fixture 2-0 away at Molineux back in October. In Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu, they have the attacking weapons to really take the game to their opponents. The problem is that’s exactly what Wolves want. Nuno Espírito Santo’s team are one of the best counter-attacking sides around, as they showed against Manchester United on Tuesday. On the breakaway, Diogo Jota and Raúl Jiménez are a very dangerous duo.
The major battle, however, may well rage in the middle of the Wembley pitch. Abdoulaye Doucouré and Étienne Capoue have been outstanding for Watford this season, but they could find themselves outnumbered against João Moutinho, Rúben Neves and Leander Dendoncker. Will Hughes has the discipline to help out his fellow midfielders, but what about Pereyra and Deulofeu?