FA Cup semi finals preview
Posted 25th March 2010
For just the second time in the last seven seasons, the FA Cup semi-finals feature fewer than two teams from the Premier League's Big Four. This is a good omen for Portsmouth, as they went onto win the tournament in 2008, the other occasion this occurred.
Their manager of two years ago is now in charge of their last four opponents. Tottenham Hotspur and Pompey face each other in a clash full of subplots. Redknapp's reunion with his old employers adds an edge, not least because he will pick a team full of Portsmouth old boys.
Spurs will be under pressure to win. They will start as strong favourites and also know the tight battle for fourth place cannot be guaranteed to yield a Champions League place. One of the most successful FA Cup teams, Spurs fans expect their team to reach their first final since winning the event in 1991.
Pompey have the advantage of having nothing else to play for. Certain to be relegated, they can approach the tie in a carefree manner and will be able to relax more than their opponents. However, this will not be enough to overcome a gulf in class and Spurs can be expected to win by two clear goals against a team crippled by uncertainty.
Like Spurs, Chelsea and Aston Villa know the FA Cup can either cap a successful season or redeem an otherwise barren one. Villa let the Carling Cup final slip through their grasp and suddenly look outsiders in the race for fourth. Chelsea again missed out in the Champions League and face a title race that will go to the wire.
The Chelsea v Villa semi should be a tight affair, with extra time and penalties a distinct possibility. Chelsea's greater experience - they are aiming to win their third FA Cup in four years - should give them the edge.
For his part, England manager Fabio Capello will be hoping the FA Cup final passes off without incident.
The match will take place shortly before he names his squad for South Africa and England will need their best players to be injury free if they are to justify their World Cup 2010 betting odds.