Football preview: What will and won't happen this weekend
Chelsea vs Tottenham (FA Cup semi-final, Saturday, 5.15pm)
The big talking point: 1st vs 2nd. London vs London. Wembley. An FA Cup final place on the line. Fascinating, basically: even more so given the recent history of this fixture and the acrimony which still bubbles between the two sets of players. It's almost a year since that infamous encounter at Stamford Bridge and most of the players picked that day will be involved again here, ensuring professional and personal rivalries all over the pitch. This is how a big game should look and feel.
What will happen: Probably a long afternoon. There really isn't much between these two sides, less so given Spurs’s recent upsurge and Chelsea’s no-show at Old Trafford. At the time of writing, reports suggest that a virus has run through Antonio Conte’s squad, but picking a winner here would amount to nothing but guesswork. Whatever the outcome, it's going to come after a mighty struggle.
What won’t happen: Disappointment. This is what we want, isn’t it? It’s been a really long time since an FA Cup game had this kind of pull on the public and, although these two will compete for a bigger prize over the next few weeks, the “concentrate on the league” excuse really isn’t in play.
Manchester City vs Arsenal (FA Cup semi-final, Sunday, 3pm)
The big talking point: Vital asterisks. Neither of these teams have enjoyed particularly productive seasons. Manchester City’s failure to make an impression on Europe will have hurt Pep Guardiola, as will his inability to have been properly competitive in the Premier League. For Arsenal... well, you know. If Arsene Wenger does want to sign that new contract, it will be a lot easier to do so having won something first. It’s a battle for a valuable “yes, but…”
What will happen: Arsenal will be caught between formations. Wenger introduced a three-man defence against Middlesbrough, which will seem a very strange move if it doesn’t re-appear at Wembley. The question, therefore, is whether Arsenal are ready to resist Manchester City’s dangerous forward line in their new shape - and given just how well Sterling, De Bruyne, Aguero & Co. move in relation to each other, the smart guess would be “no”.
What won’t happen: A goalless draw. If the Saturday semi-final is likely to be won on thin margins, this will be more open. Both teams are top heavy, packing all of their ability into their respective front sixes, and both have defensive weaknesses which align inconveniently with those strengths.