The FA Cup thrives on “the all or nothing” nature of each match. In the simplest form of a knockout tournament, it’s not always the best team that wins but the team that craves it the most. Never before have we seen two encounters quite as enticing or of such importance as the semifinal match-ups before us this Sunday at Wembley.
First off, both matches are local derbies. Everton against Liverpool is always an exciting affair, as too is Tottenham versus Chelsea. Both teams are playing not only for the pride of their fans, but for the pride of their city. They play for the bragging rights as well
Tottenham and Chelsea are both struggling in the EPL. Their title hopes have been dashed and the clubs are stuck in the battle for fourth spot and the Champions League berth that comes with it. Liverpool and Everton reside slightly lower in the table but are neck and neck only differing by a single point.
For Chelsea, the FA Cup now holds the key for manager, Roberto Di Matteo. His role as caretaker will be a short one if he cannot win some immediate silverware. As the league is already lost, winning the FA Cup would prove to the owner that Di Matteo means business. For the players as well, such a victory would release all the pent up frustrations from the previous management and could bring the team back to its winning ways ahead of next season.
Tottenham have struggled in recent weeks. Their spot in the Champions League looked certain two months ago but not anymore. A tragic tumble in league matches since manager Harry Redknapps’ name was linked to the English National Team managerial role has seen them back in the thick of the race, and in rather poor form. A victorious FA Cup campaign would do wonders for licking their Premier League wounds.
Liverpool have now struggled for years, though their Carling Cup success has offered a bright hope. Unfortunately, their form since lifting a trophy has been appalling, and the club continues to stoop to Premier League mediocrity. They would love to continue their cup success with a domestic double, and could also go lengths to inspiring a seemingly flat team for next season.
Everton have played well in the last month or so and lead Liverpool in the table, although most pundits feel they are the underdog. They were pummeled 3-0 the last time they faced Liverpool, but a win here to progress to the final match would restore their pride, and would also give the team the confidence it needs to finish above their rivals in the table.
I feel the semifinal matches will go a long ways to elevating the winning teams towards better league positions, so therefore I feel that whoever wins the upcoming game will finish higher in the table as well. With confidence and the will to win no matter what, these teams need to realize that their test of the season is now. It should make for some great FA Cup matches!