Champions League trio turn attentions to Wembley

LONDON - Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all have their sights set firmly on European glory in Rome after midweek triumphs but a trip to Wembley comes first this weekend when they aim to reach the FA Cup final.

United, who beat Porto to reach the Champions League semis after Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning goal, face Everton in their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday while Arsenal and Chelsea square up 24 hours earlier.

With just over a month of an intriguing season remaining, all three clubs are chasing silverware on multiple fronts.

Premier League leaders United are still on course for five trophies, having already won FIFA's Club World Cup and the League Cup, while Guus Hiddink's Chelsea have not given up on the league and face Barcelona in the Champions League semis.

Arsenal, for all their early season problems, could end their four-year trophy drought with an FA Cup and Champions League double after crushing Villarreal on Wednesday to set up a European showdown with United.

"We know how good Chelsea are but if we play our football we can beat any team in the world," Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor said after scoring against Villarreal on Wednesday.

Chelsea, who drew 4-4 with Liverpool on Tuesday to win an epic Champions League quarter-final 7-5 on aggregate, know they cannot afford to be as lax in defence as heir last two matches.

They conceded three goals to Bolton Wanderers in the League last Saturday and four against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Of the four semi-finalists, Arsenal appear to be the freshest with key players such as Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Eduardo returning from injuries at just the right time.


After being written off, manager Arsene Wenger's assertions that his Gunners young side would come good are proving accurate, even if the league is beyond them.

"These boys are winners...The focus these players have shown since the beginning of the season has been fantastic," Wenger said this week.

"The hunger they have shown every single day in training and the focus they have shown is great."

While United, Arsenal and Chelsea all have their eyes on several prizes, Everton's focus is on the FA Cup and a place in next season's Europa League. They have lost only once in their last 11 matches.

Everton, who beat United in the 1995 FA Cup final, have a doubt about French striker Louis Saha. Brazilian Jo is cup-tied while Nigerian Yakubu Aiyegbeni is out until next season with a ruptured Achilles.

While the top sides chase FA Cup glory, attention in the Premier League switches to the bottom of the table where four teams battling against relegation all meet each other.

Stoke City are only six points clear of the bottom three and face Blackburn Rovers, while 17th-placed Sunderland face 15th-placed Hull City.

Newcastle will also continue their battle against the drop when Alan Shearer takes his side to in-form Tottenham Hotspur.