The FA Cup has reached Semi Final day, and despite being as pissed off as I normally am this time of year that the venue for these games is Wembley, there are two pretty evenly matched ties to sit back and Enjoy.
Palace play Watford tomorrow on the battle of the underdogs and the 1st prize would be a place in the final and a day out at Wembley….except of course they are already playing there.
Alan Pardew’s sides league form has suffered dramatically at the expense of this cup run and he’ll be hoping to get the best out of his side and get another chance to claim the trophy he came seconds away from winning in 2006 with West Ham.
Watford’s form has dipped a little too since they secured premier league safety and this has coincided with Odion Ighalo’s blistering early season goalscoring form slowing down a tad.
Watford will be hoping to make their first FA cup final since 1984 where they lost to Everton, Palace their first since 1990 where they lost to Manchester United, so either way there is a fair chance of history repeating itself in the showcase in May.
I think Palace are going to get the job done today though, their style better suited to the occasion and just a couple more big players who have been here before. Scott Dann part of Birmingham’s league cup win in 2011, Ward Delaney Jedinak & Zaha were all part of Palaces Wembley playoff promotion win in 2013, which ironically came against today’s opponents Watford in a tight 1-0 win.
This Watford side is a host of new faces, and the Pardew factor here could also top the balance.
The obvious tie of the round sees Manchester United play Everton this evening and in a repeat of the 2009 semi final where the toffees triumphed on penalties.
In a twist of events its Roberto Martinez and not Louis Van Gaal who goes into this game under the most pressure, and despite Everton’s dreadful this is still a tough one to call.
Everton were my pre-tournament each way tips and with just win to before I can collect my spoils, I’m not going to back out on them now. I expect them to be quick out of the blocks and attempt to overpower uniteds midfield area which has been their major weakness this year. Whilst defensively there is a lot to fear, United aren’t exactly free scoring and this could be a rare day where 2 goals might be enough for Everton to upset the apple cart again and bang in the final nail in Louis Van Gaals coffin. The biggest threat from United may come from Marcus Rashford again and he’ll no doubt look to use the wide space of the big Wembley pitch to utilise his pace against the inconsistent Everton back line. It’ll be interesting to see how he copes on his first Wembley big game outing.
Expect 2 cagey encounters, and possibly more than 180 minutes.
FA Cup Betting:
Palace in 90 minutes @ 7/5
Everton to win 2-1 @ 13/1