FA Cup semi-final draw: United face Tottenham, Chelsea versus Southampton

John Brewin on 18 March 2018

Manchester United have been drawn to face Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final of this season’s FA Cup. In the other tie set to be played over the weekend of April 21 and 22, Chelsea, last season’s losing finalists, will face Southampton.

After overcoming Brighton 2-0 in Saturday evening’s quarter-final, Jose Mourinho’s team will meet Mauricio Pochettino’s side at their temporary Wembley home. Spurs earlier overcame Swansea in a 3–0 victory on Saturday lunchtime. The clubs’ previous meeting came on January 31 at Wembley when Tottenham breezed to a 2-0 victory.

A leading question ahead of that summit meeting will be the fitness of Harry Kane, who suffered an ankle injury last week at Bournemouth but is scheduled to return two weeks ahead of the semi-final, the same weekend of April 7 that Manchester United’s Premier League match with Manchester City is expected to serve as a potential title coronation for Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders.

Mark Hughes’ Southampton beat Wigan 1-0 on Sunday after goals from Cédric Soares and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on Sunday to progress to Wembley, in the Welshman’s first match in charge since taking over the position left vacant after Mauricio Pellegrino’s sacking. Hughes must now turn his attention to leading the South Coast club out of the Premier League relegation battle, having inherited a team lying 18th in the table.

Hughes was an FA Cup winner as a Chelsea player in 1997, and his former club are in a dogfight of their own, having dropped off the pace in the chase for a top four place. Going into next week’s international break, they lie five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham. Antonio Conte’s team departed this season’s Champions League at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday.

Chelsea won their quarter-final 2-1 at Leicester on Sunday after extra-time, Pedro scoring the 105th minute winner after Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Alvaro Morata’s opening goal. Under-fire Conte is desperately seeking silverware after this season’s poor title defence and is still yet to win a cup competition in his coaching career.

Thanks for joining us for that brief encounter....full story to follow soon.

Two great ties there, though Chelsea will fancy they have the easiest draw there. The widespread demands for Pochettino to win a trophy have Mourinho in the way, though United have bitter memories of facing Tottenham at Wembley, having lost 2-0 there in January, a night when the Pogba/Mourinho dynamic took a distinct turn for the worst.

Chelsea v Southampton

Mark Hughes will face his old club.

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Manchester United v Tottenham

That’s Jose Mourinho versus the young pretender, Mauricio Pochettino.

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The balls are in....

Petr Cech and Gianfranco Zola, a little and large combination from Chelsea’s glorious past, will be doing the honours. They have seven FA Cups between them.

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So, that’s Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester United and Spurs in the hat. With a nation kept waiting for Countryfile, we must assume the draw will be made swiftly.

Antonio Conte, then, fights on at Chelsea. He’s never won a cup competition in his managerial career, and wants to right the wrong of last season’s bewilderingly slack performance in losing to Arsenal in last season’s final.

After Pedro’s winner for Chelsea a rather unlucky Leicester have been denied a first semi-final since 1982, when a tight-shorted Gary Lineker was their pacy young striker. Southampton, in beating Wigan earlier, reached the last four for the first time since 2003, when Wee Gordon Strachan was manager and they reached the final, only to lose to Arsenal in Cardiff. New manager Mark Hughes was an FA Cup warrior in the competition’s glory days, scoring in semi-final matches in 1985 and 1994 against Liverpool and Oldham for Manchester United, and in 1997 for Chelsea, when scoring twice against Wimbledon.

Chelsea are old hands, and Tottenham will probably want to avoid them, having lost in their last two visits to this stage to their old friends from west London, last season’s 4-2 defeat and an even more painful 5-1 thrashing in 2012. They also lost to Chelsea at Wembley in a Premier League game in August.

And the happy house of Manchester United, going for their twelfth FA Cup, reached this stage two years ago, when they went on to beat hip groover Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace and sack Louis van Gaal all in one day.

Leicester and Chelsea kept us waiting but the draw for the last four will be swiftly upon us.

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