Tuesday, March 22, 2022

FA Cup: Eagles Soar Amid Other Likely Suspects

Crystal Palace plays the underdog role in this year’s FA Cup Semifinals. The top three clubs in the Premier League table will join midtable Palace in the semifinal round. The Eagles demolished Everton 4-0 in their quarterfinal match to reach the semifinals where they will face Chelsea. Four different Crystal Palace players scored versus the terrible Toffees with Everton manager Frank Lampard disparaging the quality on three of the four goals while admonishing the poor play of his own club. The sour grapes from Lampard evidenced further strain on the young manager who is yet to have any positive impact on his new club which is at risk of relegation in the league table.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, are enjoying life under manager Patrick Vieira as the Eagles employ a more attack minded scheme than in recent years. Crystal Palace will face Chelsea next, a circumstance which will deprive the club of the services of one of its bright young players. Midfielder Conor Gallagher is on loan to the Eagles from Chelsea and unable to play against his parent club when the clubs face off at London’s Wembley Stadium on April 16th. Chelsea advance to the semifinals following their 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Middlesbrough. Championship tier Middlesbrough was unable to take down a third Premier League club in the competition after eliminating Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in earlier rounds. Romelu Lukaku started for Chelsea and the unhappy striker, who is enduring a difficult season in his return to London, scored the opener off an assist from Mason Mount. Mount also assisted on Hakim Ziyech’s goal which gave the Blues a 2-0 halftime lead which stood as the final margin.

Chelsea is seeking to lift ticket restrictions for the club’s tilt at Wembley versus Crystal Palace after away attendance at Middlesbrough was limited by government sanctions.

Manchester City and Liverpool supporters have concerns how they will support their teams as rail service from the northwest to London is currently projected to be disrupted by maintenance work on the day of the two clubs’ semi-final match on April 16th. Manchester City struck three times in the second half to break a first half deadlock in its 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Southampton. The Saints benefited from a Manchester City own goal in a match where they controlled only 35% of the possession versus the Premier League leaders.

A match at Wembley between the Premier League’s top two teams was ascertained by Liverpool’s narrow 1-0 win over Championship side Nottingham Forest. Like Manchester City, Liverpool controlled 65% of possession but could not break though until a Diogo Jota goal in the 78th minute punched their ticket for Wembley. Liverpool and Manchester City are scheduled to meet in the FA Cup semifinal less than a full week after their April 10th league match which could well decide the Premier League title.  

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