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FA Cup 2017: Why do Chelsea, Tottenham, City and Arsenal want Wembley win? When are semi-finals?

Why is the FA Cup suddenly so important to the Premier League elite?

14/03/2017 at 14:01Updated 14/03/2017 at 15:35

Why has the FA Cup suddenly gone from a distraction to the main event for the Premier League elite?

Life in the old Cup yet

Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester United in the quarter-finals at Stamford Bridge ensures four of the Premier League's top five will contest the semi-finals of the English game's national knockout tournament for the first time since 2009 when Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester and Everton reached the last four at Wembley.

Chelsea will face Tottenham, and Arsenal will meet Manchester City on the weekend of April 22/23.

There will not be any shocks this season. The romance of the cup is not dead, but there is not much love to be found for the underdog in the business end of the tournament. The oldest and most fabled Cup competition in the world that was for so long viewed as an inconvenience by the moneyed Premier League is again dominated by the highest quality of the English game.

Why has it happened?

The Premier League's leading clubs suddenly view the FA Cup as a trophy worth winning. With Chelsea 10 points clear at the summit of the Premier League, it presents Antonio Conte's side, second-placed Tottenham, Manchester City in third and fifth-placed Arsenal with the prospect of ending their season on a silver-tinted high. They all need it for different reasons.


Chelsea's double pursuit

Chelsea want a historic Premier League and FA Cup double seven years after they last managed the feat under Carlo Ancelotti in what is their most successful season in England outside of carrying off the Champions League in 2012. They have not had European football this season so could focus fully on the domestic success which is suddenly well within view.

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarterfinal between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarterfinal between Chelsea and Manchester United.AFP

Their fans are relishing the chance to add the FA Cup to what seems like a second Premier League parade in three years. They were singing songs about returning to Wembley during their fraught 1-0 win over United at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea diehards expect the Premier League under Conte, and believe the FA Cup is within their club's grasp.

Road to semi-finals:

  • Third round: Chelsea 4-1 Peterborough United
  • Fourth round: Chelsea 4-0 Brentford
  • Fifth round: Wolves 0-2 Chelsea
  • Sixth round: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

What the manager says:

Antonio Conte: "We must be pleased because to arrive in the semi-finals and play at Wembley gives us great satisfaction, above all for the work we’ve been doing this season."

FA Cup odds 9/4


Tottenham seek first trophy under Pochettino

For all their progress under Mauricio Pochettino in finishing inside the top four, Tottenham have not won a trophy since his arrival. They reached the League Cup final in early 2015, but lost 2-0 to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea. They are 10 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League, and are firmly playing for the Champions League spots and second place, an ambition that was denied them by Arsenal on the final day of last season.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino before the match

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino before the matchReuters

Spurs will relish the chance of a victory over their London rivals because it would rob Conte of the double while setting themselves up for a glorious Wembley finale before they move to the national stadium next year while their home ground of White Hart Lane is rebuilt.

Pochettino has yet to win a trophy as a manager, but his side know they can match Chelsea, reversing a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in November with a 2-0 victory over them at the outset of the year. The FA Cup would be prestigious personal moment for Poch. It would also represent Spurs first trophy since they beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup in 2008, and a first FA Cup since 1991.

Road to semi-finals:

  • Third round: Tottenham 2-0 Aston Villa
  • Fourth round: Tottenham 4-3 Wycombe Wanderers
  • Fifth round: Fulham 0-3 Tottenham
  • Sixth round: Tottenham 6-0 Millwall

What the manager says:

Mauricio Pochettino: "We are at Wembley in the semi-finals, and we are looking forward to that. We have very good momentum, but we have to improve."

FA Cup odds 4/1


City bid to crown Pep's first season in England

Pep Guardiola's side remain active in the Champions League last 16 and FA Cup last four, but there is little doubt the knockout trophy offers the City martinet his best chance of lifting a trophy in his first season in England.

More importantly, his side are really starting to impress after a stodgy spell, going unbeaten in their past six league matches. They will aim to maintain such form next month before meeting Arsenal, a team they visit in the league on April 2.

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline.

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline.AFP

Guardiola was always a big proponent of Cup success during his spells running Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning two Copa del Reys and three Spanish Super Cups with Barca and two German Cups in Munich. With his side in the last four, he will be hell bent on taking the final step.

Road to semi-finals:

  • Third round: West Ham 0-5 Manchester City
  • Fourth round: Crystal Palace 0-3 Manchester City
  • Fifth round: Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City
  • Fifth round replay: Manchester City 5-1 Huddersfield
  • Sixth round: Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester City

What the manager says:

Pep Guardiola: "Now we need to take things step by step and see which rivals we are going to face in the semi-finals. This is a big step for us and now we must try to go back for the final after the semi-final because the Cup is very important to us. I get excited a lot about going to Wembley because I remember the old and the new stadium. We are so happy to be there and we are there because of the way we played. I’m so pleased with our performance."

FA Cup odds 5/2


Arsenal seek heavenly seventh under Wenger

The future of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager could depend upon finishing in the top four, and winning the FA Cup for a seventh time under the French coach. He has lifted the FA Cup twice in the past three years, and this could again provide a silver lining in a season of dwindling returns that sees them trail fourth-placed Liverpool by five points with two games in hand.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds the trophy as he rides a bus with his players during a victory parade after winning their FA Cup final soccer match yesterday, in north London, Britain, May 31, 2015. REUTERS/Neil

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds the trophy as he rides a bus with his players during a victory parade after winning their FA Cup final soccer match yesterday, in north London, Britain, May 31, 2015. REUTERS/NeilReuters

Failure to finish in the top four would be a hugely harrowing moment for the club's board, but many among the support will view the Cup competition as a trophy that would end a disappointing campaign on a high at Wembley as they aim to go one better than Manchester United by winning for a record 13th time. For Wenger, his job may depend upon it.

Road to semi-finals:

  • Third round: Preston 1-2 Arsenal
  • Fourth round: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal
  • Fifth round: Sutton United 0-2 Arsenal
  • Sixth round: Arsenal 5-0 Lincoln City

What the manager says:

Arsene Wenger: "We have been short of confidence after some disappointing results recently. When the confidence was there in the second half, our quality came back."

FA Cup odds 9/2


When are the semi-finals?

They are at Wembley Stadium on April 22 and April 23.

What do you get for winning?

  • Winners: £1.8m and a place in the Europa League
  • Losing finalists £900,000
  • Semi-final winners £900,0000
  • Semi-final losers £450,0000

Desmond Kane

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