FA Cup semi-finals take center stage, but vital Premier League fixtures too

The City-Liverpool game comes just six days after the two sides shared four goals in a thrilling Premier League draw last Sunday.

LONDON: The FA Cup semi-finals dominate the weekend fixtures in England as Manchester City and Liverpool meet for the second time in a week on Saturday, before Chelsea take on Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The City-Liverpool game comes just six days after the two sides shared four goals in a thrilling Premier League draw last Sunday, and just three days after booking their place in the Champions League semi-finals.

Liverpool could have a slight advantage as their first leg win over Benfica allowed manager Jurgen Klopp to rotate his starting XI, resting players such as Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah.

By contrast, Manchester City had to dig deep at Atletico Madrid to draw 0-0, and are set to play without Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne, although they could be boosted by the return of Ruben Dias and Gabriel Jesus. which is available after the mid-week suspension.

The second semi-final will take place 24 hours later and Crystal Palace will be without influential midfielder on loan Conor Gallagher, who is not eligible to play against parent club Chelsea.

Chelsea come into the game after their brave but ultimately futile fight against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and the FA Cup is now their only chance to win a trophy this season.

There are also six Premier League games over the weekend, and with the first three all involved in FA Cup action, the battle for Europe takes center stage.

Tottenham suddenly have a three-point lead in fourth place ahead of Arsenal, and Saturday lunchtime sees them entertain Brighton. With Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in exceptional form, Antonio Conte’s men should extend their run of four wins, but they will have to be careful with a Brighton side who stunned Arsenal a week ago.

Arsenal have started to look shaky at the wrong time and need to take all three points from their visit to Southampton. Granit Xhaka will continue at left-back for Arsenal, who could go to St Mary’s at the wrong time. Southampton lost 6-0 at home to Chelsea last weekend – and could have lost more had Chelsea not relaxed – and Ralph Hasenhuttl will no doubt demand a reaction from his players.

Manchester United’s hopes of playing in Europe appear to be waning after some terrible recent performances, although a visit from Norwich City should be a chance to get back on track. Of course, it also offers the possibility of things getting even worse, especially if Norwich play with the spirit they showed last week at home to Burnley.

Watford are entering the last-ditch saloon in their relegation battle, and any chance of avoiding the drop means beating a Brentford side that have been revitalized by the signing of Christian Eriksen. However, to do so Watford must end a nine-game losing streak at home, with their last home victory against Manchester United in November.

Sunday sees Newcastle United at home to Leicester City, who reached the UEFA Conference League semi-finals on Thursday, while Burnley hope West Ham will suffer from tired legs after their Europa League exploits in Lyon, when they travel at the London Stadium looking for three points to keep their survival hopes alive.