Defending FA Cup champions Chelsea will take on defending English Premier League champions Manchester City for a place in the final of the 2013 FA Cup at Wembley Stadium this weekend.
Neither side has been particularly impressive this season after their title-winning campaigns of 2012, and will be keen for a win here to give them a shot at some silverware in 2013—especially given their performances in the Premier League and Champions League this season.
Both teams bombed out in the group stages of the tournament and have surrendered a huge lead to Manchester United on top of the league table.
A chance to win the FA Cup wouldn't replace either of those, but it would go a long way to easing the concerns of many about their performances this year—as well as giving their fans something to celebrate in what has been a largely frustrating year for both teams.
Who's going to emerge victorious from this semifinal showdown? Read on for a full preview including all the details, live viewing information, analysis and predictions you need for this FA Cup semifinal.
Date: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Start time: 11 a.m. ET (4 p.m. BST)
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, Fox Soccer Channel, SiriusXM FC and FOX Deportes will all provide coverage of the match throughout the United States.
BBC Radio 5 Live, UTV and ITV 1 will do the same in the United Kingdom.
2012-13 FA Cup so Far
|Third Round||Won vs. Southampton, 5-1 (A)|
Drew vs. Brentford, 2-2 (A)
Won vs. Brentford, 4-0 (H)
|Fifth Round||Won vs. Middlesborough, 2-0 (A)|
Drew vs. Manchester United, 2-2 (A)
Won vs. Manchester United, 1-0 (H)
|Third Round||Won vs. Watford, 3-0 (H)|
|Fourth Round||Won vs. Stoke City, 1-0 (A)|
|Fifth Round||Won vs. Leeds United, 4-0 (H)|
|Quarterfinals||Won vs. Barnsley, 5-0 (H)|
Key Players to Watch
Demba Ba, Chelsea
Ever since making the move over the winter transfer window, Demba Ba has been a huge factor for the Blues up front, and will likely continue his dominance again in this one.
In his five cup matches for the Blues, Ba has netted three goals, including a superb effort against Manchester United that sent them through to the semifinals.
Ba will need to be at his best here for the West London club and will face a tough time against City's enforcer in Vincent Kompany. Both have the skills available to triumph in this one, but whoever can gain the upper hand will surely give their team a huge advantage.
Look for Ba to try and get in behind the Citizens' defense in this one.
Yaya Toure, Manchester City
With David Silva to potentially miss this game due to injury (per BBC Sport), Yaya Toure will have a huge role to play in the Citizens' attack here. The attacking midfielder has been used in more holding midfielder roles this season, but will likely be forced to push forward and give Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero assistance in attack here, should Silva be ruled out.
Toure is a physically strong player who is more than capable of beating a man one-on-one and sparking an attacking chance as a result.
His finishing isn't brilliant, but he can still definitely find the back of the net when needed, and could be a genuine X-factor here for the Citizens. If Toure can find the space in between the midfielders and defensive line from Chelsea then he could genuinely reap havoc on this fixture, single-handedly turning this one in the Citizens' favor every time they attack the West Londoners.
The Blues must be aware of that and not give Toure space in the attacking third.
Biggest Storylines to Follow
Can Chelsea's Left Hold up Against City's Right?
As mentioned before, David Silva will undergo a late fitness test before this one to determine whether he can play, and that test could well be a defining factor in this semifinal matchup.
The Blues are already without star defender Ashley Cole, and whilst they do have Ryan Bertrand as a more-than-capable replacement, Bertrand doesn't offer the same attacking presence that Cole does down the wing. Thus, having Silva would have been a huge advantage for the Citizens, but it's still unknown whether the midfielder will be available here.
Eden Hazard and Pablo Zabaleta will engage another key battle further up field, but it will be the one behind them that will have the biggest impact here.
If City can stop Bertrand getting forward and exploit his positioning, they'll have a huge advantage here. However, if Bertrand can shut down the left and force City to try and go through the middle, the Blues could well be on top here.
Which Goalkeeper Will Make That Save?
At times last season, Joe Hart was simply mesmerizing for City, and with a strong defensive line in front of him, seemed absolutely unbeatable. However, this year, as his defense opens up a little, Hart has been prone to some softer goals in 2013 and hasn't been as strong when dealing with key shots.
His positioning hasn't been brilliant and he's allowed more shots that last year—some you would have expected him to make with the simplest of saves.
Hart hasn't been tested at all in the FA Cup so far, with this attack his biggest challenge to date. If he can make a key save or two in this one then he could well change the shape of this semifinal, giving his team the momentum required to win through here.
Petr Cech's incredible save against Javier Hernandez in the quarterfinal completely changed the momentum for Chelsea against Manchester United.
Will he be the Blues' savior again, or will it be Hart that rises in this one?
3 Stats to Consider
2. Chelsea (2012) and Manchester City (2011) are the last two teams to win the FA Cup, but have not played against each other in the competition since 1971.
29. Excluding penalty shootouts, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 29 FA Cup fixtures—winning 23 of those games and drawing six.
5. Manchester City have won five of their past eight encounters against Chelsea in all competitions, excluding the Community Shield.
This game is going to be another closely fought affair between these two sides, which does tend to give Chelsea the edge in this one.
The Blues have come through many close affairs in the FA Cup so far and therefore know what it takes to win a close match. City, on the other hand, haven't been tested at all by any genuinely good teams, and could be exposed here as a result.
However, having said that, their win over Manchester United on the weekend will have given them mountains of confidence. And having not conceded a goal in the tournament so far, they'll certainly be a tough test for the Blues' midfield to overcome.
Look for a very cagey affair early, but for City to make most of the running, dominating the attacking chances and perhaps even grabbing an early goal.
Chelsea will valiantly try to come back, but against this defense and against a team with nothing else to play for this season, they won't be strong enough.
The Citizens are too disciplined across the back to be beaten in this one, and they'll book their place in the final against Wigan Athletic as a result of that.
Prediction: Chelsea 0, Manchester City 1
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