Football weekend FA Cup semi-finals

The Premier League’s top two sides meet for the second time in six days after playing out an absorbing 2-2 draw at Etihad Stadium in the league last Sunday.

The other semi-final is an all-London affair between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Eight-time winners Chelsea are attempting to reach the showpiece final for the third straight season after finishing runners-up to Arsenal in 2020 and Leicester City in 2021.

Palace are looking to reach the final for the first time since 2016, while Liverpool has been to three Champions League finals since they last won the FA Cup 16 years ago in 2006.

Pep Guardiola’s City won the FA Cup as recently as 2019.

The FA Cup – the world’s longest-running knockout football competition – is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Both semi-finals will be decided on the day and teams will be able to name nine substitutes and use five as they seek a place in the final at Wembley on 14 May.

100 free buses for 5,000 fans

The decision to keep the semi-final between City and Liverpool at Wembley has been criticised, given no direct trains are running from either city to London this weekend.

In addition, Transport for London (TfL) said urgent safety checks being carried out on trains running on the Metropolitan line section of the Tube will coincide with the FA Cup semi-final weekend.

Reds captain Jordan Henderson said it “would have made sense” to switch the tie away from Wembley, and fans of both clubs and mayors of the respective cities had asked for a venue change.

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But the game will go ahead at the national stadium, with the Football Association providing 100 free buses for fans attending the game.

The free return bus journeys “will ensure that up to 5,000 Liverpool and Manchester City supporters will be able to travel to Wembley Stadium free of charge”, a Football Association statement said.

Liverpool and Manchester City have each received 34,000 tickets for the game.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp this month described the Football Association’s planning for the FA Cup semi-finals as “one of the most ridiculous stories I ever heard”.

Klopp added: “It makes absolutely no sense.

“I’m not sure what the FA thought – no club from the north west will be part of the semi-finals?”

Both FA Cup semi-finals have been played at Wembley since 2008 – before that, the semis had mostly been held at neutral club stadiums.

Another City-Liverpool Wembley shootout?

Having drawn their previous two meetings 2-2, Manchester City and Liverpool are meeting for the third time this season with their hopes of winning the Treble and – in Liverpool’s case – a historic quadruple on the line.

City are one point ahead of the Reds in the Premier League with seven matches left and both sides have reached the Champions League semi-finals.

Liverpool have already tasted victory at Wembley this season, winning a penalty shootout to secure the Carabao Cup against Chelsea.

The teams have met twice before at Wembley – the 2016 League Cup final and 2019 Community Shield – with both games ending in a 1-1 draw and City winning on penalties.

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Did you know? City are appearing in their fifth FA Cup semi-final in the past six years.

Will underdogs Palace produce another big result?

After seeing their reign as European champions ended in midweek, Chelsea will be desperate to finish the season on a high by winning a major domestic trophy.

Thomas Tuchel’s side have won the Fifa Club World Cup and Uefa Super Cup but they lost the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool and trail City by 12 points in the league.

They will start as favourites against Palace, the only one of the remaining sides never to have won the FA Cup.

But Palace, under Patrick Vieira, have demonstrated this season they are capable of some big results, taking four points from two games against City and beating both Tottenham and Arsenal.

Vieira was last involved in an FA semi-final in 2010-11, when he came on as a late substitute for City in a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Wembley.

As a player, he faced Chelsea five times in the competition without losing.