Betfred Sport

FA Cup semi-finals: A fitting tribute to Finney

It is somewhat appropriate that a week after one of England's footballing legends, Tom Finney, celebrated his 90th birthday and was honoured by Preston North End we should have four Premier League clubs seeking to revive the country's famous old FA Cup competition in this season's semi-finals.

Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea are the teams contesting the semis. It is a shame that while we seek to boost the competition left trailing as an also ran by the Champions and Premier Leagues, it has been further devalued by the very people who run it by having these semi-finals at the national stadium, a hallowed venue previously reserved for the final alone to make it a special occasion.

Sadly, like most people and organisations, the FA's greed has seen them stage the semis at Wembley now too so they can rake in more cash from ticket sales, programmes and merchandising of every description to help fill their coffers and pay off the massive £900m cost of building the new Wembley.

Hopefully, the four teams will not have all that on their minds and will simply concentrate on winning mainly and also giving of their very best as they strive to do so.

In gear at the right time

I am going for Everton and Chelsea to win through to the final as David Moyes and Roberto Di Matteo have got their teams in gear at the right time as far as the FA Cup is concerned, while Liverpool and Tottenham are struggling to hit any sort of consistently good form at the moment.

Kenny Dalglish is also hampered by his goalkeepers' apparent overwhelming desire to get into the dressing room first before the rest of their team-mates during matches.

He is now forced to play a third choice stopper in the semi-final after the dismissals of Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni in Premier League games against Newcastle and Blackburn.

Brad Jones now gets the chance to fill the gap between the sticks and maybe chalk up an unwanted hat-trick and possible record for the number of keepers dismissed for one club in the shortest time.

Liverpool got a much-needed win at Blackburn and much-maligned £35m striker Andy Carroll did his chances of playing in that semi no harm at all with his winning goal at Ewood.

Selection headache

But it is their city and cross-park rivals Everton who have been winning well recently and David Moyes has a bit of a selection headache, albeit a nice one, after his reserves came up with a 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland as Moyes rested several of his players in their last Premier League game.

Steven Piennar shone in that one with a goal and an all-round sterling performance. He is cup-tied and will not be able to play in the semi. His short and not so sweet spell at one of those other semi-finalists, Tottenham, the reason for that.

But Everton are firing on more than one cylinder at the moment and once Moyes decides on his XI, I take them to do the business and pile the pressure on Dalglish and Liverpool.

Chelsea will overcome Tottenham. Di Matteo has won praise from all quarters, not least Frank Lampard, who is a consistent whinger when not getting his own way. If di Matteo can keep him happy then he can keep ANYONE happy.

I hope Didier Drogba plays a part but I agree with Mr Ancelotti that Drogba and Fernando Torres cannot play in the same team and I reckon Torres will get the vote against Spurs this weekend.

Both sides have a wealth of talent - Luka Modric, Juan Mata, Gareth Bale and Gary Cahill to name, but a few but it's Chelsea for me and an Everton v Chelsea final at Wembley, again, next month.

By Steve Bott


Both games at Wembley Stadium

Saturday 14th April (kick-off 12:30)

Liverpool 2-1 Everton

Sunday 15th April (kick-off 18:00)

Tottenham vs Chelsea

The FA Cup final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 5th May

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