Man United vs Aston Villa, and Spurs vs Chelsea FA Cup Semi-Final: Open Thread

The race is on. After Manchester City’s sublime 6-1 victory (where have we heard that before?) against City on Saturday (Norwich City, that is), the pressure is on Manchester United to walk away with a victory at home against Aston Villa. Man United has scored 3 or more goals in the past six of eight league matches against Villa at Old Trafford, so it should be a comfortable win for Manchester United. But just as we saw against Wigan Athletic mid-week, anything is possible.

A win for Manchester United will return the gap at the top of the league to five points. But after Manchester City’s 6-1 victory Saturday, which helps them in the goal difference department, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will surely want to pile on the number of goals against Villa — just in case the title race does come down to goal difference. For Villa, meanwhile, there’s not a lot to look forward to other than an impressive draw against Liverpool last weekend (which doesn’t say much, unfortunately).

In the second match of the day, this one kicking off at 1pm ET/6pm BST, Tottenham Hotspur takes on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final. The winner will play Liverpool in a few weeks, but which side has what it takes to win the match and try to lift some silverware? Chelsea has had an excellent 2012 so far, while they’ll want to forget 2011 pretty quickly. The opposite is true for Tottenham who have sputtered recently and have lost a lot of their form. But in a cup semi final, anything is possible. Either team could easily win this game between two equally balanced teams.

Tottenham faces several injury worries. Michael Dawson, Ledley King and Younes Kaboul are injured, which leaves the center-back pairing as Ryan Nelsen and William Gallas. Tom Huddlestone is also out, while Louis Saha, Niko Kranjcar and David Bentley are doubtful.

Chelsea, on the other hand, don’t face any injury worries but there is the question about whether Roberto Di Matteo may decide to rest some of his players seeing that they play Barcelona on Wednesday. Plus, Chelsea faces Arsenal next weekend, and Barcelona the following mid-week after that. Could we see John Terry rested so he’s in a better condition to play on Wednesday? We shall see. Branislav Ivanovic, meanwhile, is suspended and will miss the match.

Depending on how much you think that past form has an impact or not, consider that Spurs have lost their past five semi-finals and have not reached the FA Cup Final since 1991. But Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon will hopefully have something to say about that, on the pitch against Chelsea. Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa may be able to block their attacking runs, however.

Before, during and after today’s English football matches, share your rants, raves, questions and observations in the comments section below.

78 thoughts on “Man United vs Aston Villa, and Spurs vs Chelsea FA Cup Semi-Final: Open Thread”

  1. Celtic got hard done by a questionable penalty call in waning minutes against Hearts, but now there will be an all Edinburgh SFA Cup final.

    1. I was listening to the radio commentary of the last 10 minutes of the Celtic against Hearts game today. It sounded pretty dramatic. I didn’t see the penalty incident, though. Still, it’s nice to see a cup final without Rangers and Celtic.

      The Gaffer

      1. Hearts were trying to smash the ball in with a mass of people just inside the box and Joe Ledly turned his head away from the ball and had his arm like a chicken wing and the ball hit it.

      2. Gaffer I thought FoxSoccer got the rights to the Scottish league and cup games why didn’t they show the game today? It wasn’t like they had anything to show this morning.

        1. Npt sure about the Scottish Cup Final. I thought it was just the Scottish Premier League rights. The Old Firm derby matches are the only ones guaranteed that FOX Soccer will show on their network. The others are on FOX Soccer Plus.

          The Gaffer

        2. Premium Sports Inc. (the company run by former Setanta Sports North America president Shane O’Rourke) bought the U.S. rights to the Scottish League Cup and Scottish FA Cup from IMG Sports Media. Those matches are available via closed-circuit TV (pubs and sports bars) and Internet pay-per-view only.

          FOX Soccer bought the U.S. rights to the Scottish Premier League ONLY from SPORTFIVE International. 4 Old Firm derbies on FOX Soccer, the other televised matches on FOX Soccer Plus and

    2. Yeah but Celtic’s goal was off side so that was evened up in the same game. Lenon behaved disgracefully and should get a ban. Anyway well done to the maroons but come on you hibees for the final.

    1. What makes me laugh is that they know full well Sky have got cameras there covering every angle and we can see it all in slow motion and yet they still don’t care about making themselves look completely stupid, a massive cheat and it’ll seem dubious in future if they’re genuinely brought down!

  2. WTF Ashley young is cheat, twice in a week. The fa have to do something about this clown….shame on you Young and UTD…..this is just gross…is this Serie A.

  3. A Young is one the biggest cheaters in the league. It’s disgusting how quickly two games are decided due to his cheating. Give me a thumbs down United fans, but you now I’m right on this one.

  4. The question about Manchester United today is not whether they’ll win or not, but how many goals are they going to score to improve their goal difference.

    The Gaffer

  5. before he hit the ground he was looking at ref for the call.i think young is neck and neck with suarez for the biggest diver not appealing.

  6. I didn’t want city to win the league because the notion of a team buying the premier league with 500 million pounds as an oil sheiks play thing i find revolting. That said, it is better than cheating to win it, this really is embarrassing to see an England international playing the game this way, it’s the consistency and manner of the cheating what a joke, I hope the backlash for this against man UTD from a refs standpoint evens it’s self out before the end of the season.

  7. It’s like this ref doesn’t even know what happened last weekend. As a group, they are under so much deserved criticism and they are tuning it out. Someone that had seen last weeks dive/cheat should have been so hesitant to make that decision today. This ref had his head in the sand. The one that gave Tevez a card yesterday got it wrong in the other direction. I am not a City fan. I want the title winner to earn it.

  8. Was Young like this when he played for Villa. I am feeling pretty ashamed to see him wearing that jersey right now. I never thought i would say this, but United need Nani back so we can cut down on the diving. It has gotten to a despicable level.

    On an unrelated note, Scholes was very nearly in the goal of the season race with that volley. Goodness that was traveling.

      1. FSC is broadcast from America. Do you have the same complaint about Wynalda? Are you watching FSC outside of the US? I think based on where it’s coming from and it’s intended audience, they do ok. At least McBride played in England. I am in favor of FSC improving its credibility so all but the moderator should be former EPL players. But their nationality isn’t that relevant.

    1. Alan Parry and Alan Smith for us today. Although I still prefer Martin Tyler… but he’s doing Chelsea v Spurs on Al Jazeera instead.

      1. Who’s the co-commentator alongside Martin Tyler? I don’t recognize the voice.

        Tyler is on the world feed, which is what we’re hearing in the States.

        The Gaffer

        1. Aha thanks for that info… was going to ask who your commentators were as I was wondering who was doing the world feed. Apparently it’s Matt Jackson alongside Martin Tyler.

          1. Matt Jackson it is. We don’t get a chance to hear him that much Stateside. I think he’s on ESPN UK a lot, which we don’t see.

            The Gaffer

          2. …neither do I seeing as I refuse to pay an extra subscription for 23 games a season… but that’s another story! :)

  9. Official laws of the game Yellow Card Offenses

    This may help clear up quite a few issues (including the fainting / fake kick during a penalty I’ve seen mentioned on here)

    A player is cautioned and shown a yellow card if he/she commits any of the following offences:
    Dissent by word or action
    Persistent infringement on the Laws of the Game
    Delaying the restart of play (includes deliberate time-wasting tactics)
    Failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, throw-in or free kick
    Entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
    Deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission.
    In addition, a player is cautioned and shown a yellow card for “unsporting behaviour” which includes but is not limited to:
    Extravagant celebration, such as covering one’s head with one’s jersey, or removing it over the head, and entering the crowd.[6]
    Simulating actions intended to deceive the referee, such as diving.
    A reckless challenge or tackle.
    Beginning with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, feigning a kick during a penalty kick.
    A substitute or substituted player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he/she commits any of the following three offences:
    Unsporting behaviour (as above).
    Showing dissent by word or action.
    Delaying the restart of play.

  10. Terrible show from Wembley with the minutes silence then. As stated by ITV’s commentators “Is it really asking too much for a few moments of silence once a year?”

    1. Really surprised to see that many empty seats… especially when it’s a quick trip on the tube for both sets of fans. Not like they have to travel for hours from the north like we did yesterday. I’m sure the ones who couldn’t be bothered showing their support today will soon come out the woodwork for the glory of a final if they get there!

      1. The reports I was reading was that the game was sold out. Maybe the empty seats are some of the corporate ones?

        The Gaffer

        1. They stick all the corporate people in the middle. Each club gets the entire east & west ends behind the goal and to the sides plus the nose bleed sections at either end as well. The bit to the left of Cech’s goal before with the empty seats visible was the bit I was sat in yesterday.
          Maybe they’re feeling the pinch with having to pay for Champions League tickets as well… those empty seats at the sides are top tier £60 ones so they might have all scrambled for the nose bleed ones instead 😉

    1. Incredible goal. Drogba at his best. I’d love to see him do that against Barcelona.

      What a game so far!

      The Gaffer

    1. It’s even more annoying with it being at Wembley because when a definite goal is scored, they show a replay from a few different angles within seconds on the two big screens at either end. Funny how they can’t do the same thing for an ‘is it/isn’t it’ call.

    2. Agreed. And how did Terry avoid at least a foul on his “launch” on that play? No one saw that?

      We have seen some atrocious refereeing today.

      1. ‘Today’ would be too kind on the officials… try the majority of the season! Got to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Bad thing is that the same debate gets brought up every few years but nothing ever comes of it. When England scored in the last World Cup but it ‘didn’t cross the line’ even though it was a mile over, the debate flared up but we’re still at square one.

        Maybe the corrupt world of the governing bodies doesn’t want true fair play and balance in the game… hmm… 😉

  11. how can you play advantage and when the ball is dead you go back and give a yellow card,but no card for Cech i guess i don’t know the rule.

  12. Why on earth does Cech not receive a yellow card for that challenge? i understand why he doesnt receive red because Bale was still able to score from the advantage, but that does not nullify the challenge from Cech in the first place!

  13. You can only give a card retrospectively if it was for violent conduct so it didn’t apply to what happened. He just gave advantage seeing as it was clear a goal was going to be scored anyway.

      1. Andy – I assure you that is correct! If Bale left it to go out he would have got the penalty and Cech would have walked but then you run the risk of having the penalty saved so with an open goal he was right to whack it in.

        1. Paul – I just feel as though Cech still committed a card-able offense, even though the advantage was played and the goal was still scored. Just because a goal was scored as a result of the advantage being played, it was still a card-able offense and should have been carded retrospectively(yellow, not red because of the advantage).

          1. Completely agree! It was a sending off. Even though the rulebook states that once advantage is played, a card can’t be issued afterwards unless it’s for violent conduct, it was Atkinsons call to play advantage. After his performance all day it doesn’t really surprise me that he didn’t blow his whistle. Some people would say he got the call right by playing advantage for a clear goal scoring opportunity but it’s 50/50 either way. If I was a Spurs player I think I would have preferred the penalty and first choice keeper gone but from Bale’s perspective I suppose it’s just in his nature to get ball in front of goal and smash it in the back!

    1. Should have been a red and a pen. Refs ruined the game. Shame…lewdly king should retire in the dressing room, gallas should leave and so should Harry… Time to move on mr levy

  14. i can see why the linesman didnt spot that the second Chelsea goal never crossed the line but the head official had a clear view of the incident and should have been able to see that BAE’s bright orange boots where right on the line and the ball was ALWAYS in front of them

    1. Linesman never spotted it so didn’t appear to pass judgement. Seeing as it NEVER crossed the line, the ref blatantly didn’t see it either so he guessed. The worst kind of officials are the ones who guess instead of admitting he never saw it go over and therefore saying no goal. That decision, for me, is bad enough to see him demoted to the Championship, as it what happens if they’re consistent in terrible decisions or make howlers like that! Awful.

  15. What’s joke, ref ruined the game with giving phantom goal, and then not sending of cech and awarding penalty. Sad

    1. We have a very good record against Chelsea! Bring on 5th May!

      Spooky thing is that we were playing them on 5th May anyway in the league at Anfield!

  16. In the end Spurs are taking quite a beating. At least they have an excuse in the form of controversial second goal. Though Drogba showed glimpses of his old menacing self Chelsea are definitely not back to their best. As for Spurs for whatever reason they are just a shadow of the team some considered a title contenders only 3 months ago.

  17. In reality, it’s one thing to play against 11 Chelsea, it’s another to play against 11 plus larry , curly and mo officiating.

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