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.

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