The Football Association Challenge Cup is better known as the FA Cup and is arguably the most famous annual knockout competition in men’s domestic football. The competition is open to team as far down as Level 10 of the English football league system, giving complete minnows the chance to battle it out against Premier League giants and other established professional teams. This year’s FA Cup has reached the semi-finals stage and all four teams still in with a chance of lifting the famous trophy are Premier League outfits.
Chelsea is one of the remaining quartet of teams looking to add some silverware to their trophy cabinet. The men from Stamford Bridge are looking for their third consecutive FA Cup final appearance, having lost 2-2 to London rivals Arsenal in the 2019-20 season and losing 1-0 to Leicester City in the 2020-21 final. Chelsea takes on Crystal Palace in one semi-finals on April 17.
Off-Field Problems Can’t Stop Chelsea Reaching Wembley
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Thomas Tuchel’s men have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons because of the British government sanctioning the club’s billionaire Russian owner, Roman Abromovich. However, the elite German coach has somehow kept his players’ heads in the game and they go into their semi-final fixture against Crystal Palace as substantial favourites yet only third favorites to win the FA Cup with BetOnline.
Chelsea, like all Premier League teams, entered this year’s competition in the Third Round Proper. The Blues made light work of Chesterfield, defeating the National League 5-1 at Stamford Bridge. League One’s Plymouth Argyle awaited Chelsea in Round Four and Chelsea needed extra time to win the game 2-1. This seat up a Fifth Round clash with high-flying Championship side Luton Town. Again, Chelsea was not at its best but still came out 3-2 victors on the road. They then defeated plucky Championship team Middlesbrough 2-0 away at The Riverside Stadium.
Tuchel’s Blues are now one game away from reaching their third FA Cup final on the spin and their fourth in five seasons. However, they must overcome fellow Londoners Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium if they are to achieve this impressive feat. Palace’s manager, Patrick Vieira, won the FA Cup four times as a player with Arsenal and is now looking to take The Eagles to only their third FA Cup final appearance in their 116-year history. Palace reached the final in 2016 but fell 1-2 to Manchester United. Ironically, Palace’s only other FA Cup final appearance was in 1990 when they lost to Manchester United.
Vieira Won the FA Cup Four Times as a Player
Vieira has only been in charge of Palace for this season but has worked wonders on a limited budget. He has transformed the team into one that plays attractive, attacking football, a style far removed from the defensive-minded Roy Hodgson who the Frenchman replaced before the start of the current campaign. Vieira’s Eagles are all but safe from relegation in the Premier League, so expect them to go all out and do everything in their power to become FA Cup finalists. His record against Chelsea is not the greatest. Chelsea beat Palace 3-0 on the opening day of the 2021-22 Premier League season; Vieira’s first game in charge. However, they were far more resilient in the return fixture, but still fell to a 0-1 defeat.
The other semi-final is the game that the neutral fans will tune into because it sees two of English football’s best teams lock horns on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium on April 16. Manchester City and Liverpool face off in what should be a thrilling encounter. Pep Guardiola’s City team are favorites to win the FA Cup outright, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will have something to say about that. Both City and Liverpool are neck-and-neck in the race for the Premier League title, so winning this FA Cup fixture could provide a much needed psychological boost in that fight.