Previewing the FA Cup Semi Final vs Tottenham Hotspur

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Most fans won’t remember the last time Spurs and United met in an FA Cup Semi Final. It was back in 1962 when the likes of Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Jimmy Greaves were in their prime. Spurs won that one 3-1 (David Herd got the consolation for United) and went on to win the Double that season. 

Fast forward 56 years, and both United and Spurs find themselves in an odd position in terms of how they judge their respective seasons? Is securing a Top 4 place enough in this era where six potent teams are fighting for it? The answer, of course, is no. The gap between Manchester City and the rest has made second place really feel like the ‘best-loser’ position. Both clubs will want more.

United priced as underdogs by major bookmakers

Spurs will perhaps want the FA Cup just a little bit more than United, given that they have waited 27 years since their last Cup Final and victory: United have been to seven Finals and won five in that span. However, Spurs have been made co-favourites with Chelsea to win the Cup outright with Bet365, with both sides given odds of 7/4 to lift the trophy. United are 5/2 and Southampton the big outsiders at 14/1. You can check out this Bet365 welcome offer for a free bet on the action.

You could, of course, argue that Spurs being favourites is down to the fact that they are technically playing at home at Wembley, despite the fact there will be plenty of United support in the crowd. Spurs have won the last three home meetings between the two sides (one at Wembley, two at WHL), whereas United have won the last four at Old Trafford.

Spurs advantage of playing at Wembley difficult to quantify

Will that ‘home’ advantage count for much in this game? The bookmakers seem to think so, installing Spurs as 6/5 favourites to win in 90 minutes (4/9 to qualify). United are 9/4 to in normal time and a really tempting 13/8 to qualify for the final. If United do get there, it will be Mourinho’s 15th major cup final. His record of 12 wins and two losses should give United fans plenty of confidence against Saints or Chelsea.

Going back to the task in hand against Spurs, United players may be somewhat haunted with the memories of the 2-0 loss in late-January. To be fair, Spurs were terrific in that game and it was probably their most impressive performance against us in recent times. United did have their chances in that game though, with Lukaku and Martial both wasting good opportunities.

Midfield battles once again key to beating Spurs

What must go right this time? Well, for a start, United should hopefully not concede a goal after just 11 seconds. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling looked rattled throughout the game, with the former putting one into his own net to extend Spurs’ lead. Hopefully, the centre back pairing is a little more settled this time. In addition, Mourinho seems to finally have seen sense in playing Pogba in a midfield three. This could be a game for Ander Herrera’s unique talents of disrupting play.

In the end, one would expect this match to deliver as a spectacle. Both sides know that an FA Cup Final win could turn an average season into a very good one. Let’s just hope it isn’t the last time United fans get to visit Wembley this season.

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