Rezzil Weekend Preview: FA Cup finalists to be decided with two mouthwatering clashes

2 min read

The FA Cup returns this weekend and there are two outstanding ties in the offing, as Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Coventry City battle it out for a space in the final on May 25th. 

Saturday evening sees two of English football’s biggest sides face off against each other at Wembley, with holders Manchester City and Chelsea clashing at the national stadium to determine the first half of this season’s finale. These two sides met at the same stage of this competition in 2021, where a solitary Hakim Ziyech goal was enough to edge Chelsea into the final, though the landscape looks much different ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster. 

Following yet another intense weekend of unscripted chaos in the Premier League, City find themselves back in pole position to retain the title and are full of momentum having thumped Luton 5-1 the day before both Liverpool and Arsenal’s respective self-implosions against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. A disappointing penalty shootout defeat against Real Madrid on Wednesday means that Pep Guardiola’s men are now out of the Champions League, however, which will make winning this season’s FA Cup an even bigger target for them this term.   

Chelsea were magnificent in their 6-0 demolition job on strugglers Everton on Monday evening, with Cole Palmer yet again showing his star quality by scoring four goals at Stamford Bridge. That performance will give the Blues ample confidence heading to Wembley, with recent momentum certainly with Mauricio Pochettino’s side after this week’s action in the league and Europe. 

And while it is City who will enter this match-up as the clear favourites, Chelsea will perhaps feel quietly optimistic about their chances of causing an upset. Despite another tumultuous campaign – which has featured more ups and downs than a day out at Thorpe Park – the west Londoners have fared well against their north-west counterparts this season, drawing twice during their league meetings. 

The first of those draws was a memorable eight-goal thriller back in November, where a last-minute equaliser from former City man and Chelsea’s undeniable player of the season Cole Palmer clinched a point for the Blues at Stamford Bridge just moments after Rodri thought he’d scored the winner for the visitors. 

Whilst the goal-count was lower in the reverse meeting at the Etihad in February, the 1-1 draw the pair laid on was another hugely entertaining spectacle and one which proved that on their day this Chelsea side do have the capabilities to compete with the best in the business. Mauricio Pochettino’s only hope of winning silverware this season comes courtesy of the FA Cup and with Chelsea having two more days worth of rest in the bank thanks to City’s Champions League commitments, his men do head into this fixture with a slight physical advantage. 

However, when advantages are only described as “slight”, there is seldom a huge degree of concern felt by anyone associated with Manchester City. This team is a different beast and as we have seen countless times in the past, their squad has the capabilities to compete on all fronts right until the very end, with victory usually the end result of each match they feature in. Wednesday’s game against Madrid would have been both physically and emotionally taxing, though, and 120 minutes worth of high-intensity action will no doubt be felt in the legs of the City players, which could potentially hand Chelsea the upper hand at Wembley.

This is cup football, though, and a famously magical one the FA Cup is. Form can often be thrown out the window; the occasion dominant above all else. City may be expected to win, but Chelsea are by no means out for the count and should they clinch the spoils on Saturday, the confidence gained would make them favourites to go on and win the competition against whoever books their slot in the opposing half of the final duel on May 25. 

And we will all know that very fate on Sunday evening, after Manchester United and the only non-Premier League team left in the competition have left it all on the Wembley turf in their match which kicks off at 3.30pm. 

The footballing romantics will be behind Championship outfit Coventry in this one, who look to slay the dragon and continue their magnificent run in the FA Cup by making next month’s highly anticipated final. The Sky Blues have impressed all season long in both the league and cup after coming agonisingly close to sealing promotion to the Premier League last season; losing the play-off final to Luton on penalties. 

Mark Robins’ men have been in contention for a top-six finish in the second tier all season but, whilst not mathematically impossible, it does look as though they will fall short of securing a spot in the play-offs again this term, which makes their cup run even more seismic. 

Irrespective of the result on Sunday afternoon, Coventry’s progress in the FA Cup can be put down as a huge success but making the final would be euphoric for the club’s devout supporter base. Avoiding Manchester City in the semi-finals would have been a huge relief for the Midlands club and they will feel a glimmer of hope in causing a historical upset at Wembley given Manchester United’s inconsistency this season. 

All of the pressure is on Erik ten Hag’s side and whilst they are certainly expected to win this game it is by no means a foregone conclusion. Coventry have already dumped two top-flight teams out of the FA Cup this season in Sheffield United and Wolves, and have the attacking prowess of Ellis Simms in their armoury up front. 

The former Everton man has netted 18 goals in all competitions this term and five of those finishes have come in this competition. Given the rate in which United have been conceding of late, you would not be at all surprised to see the 23-year-old make the net bulge again on Sunday. 

Memories of that famous FA Cup win over Tottenham in 1986/87 will pulsate through one half of the national stadium on Sunday – and a win here would bring Coventry one step closer to repeating such a feat in the modern era. Roll on the weekend, then, it promises to be a gooden. 

FA Cup semi-finals


Man City vs Chelsea, 17:15 KO


Coventry City vs Man Utd, 15:30 KO