1. Down to the last four in the FA Cup
FOUR POINTS SEPARATE Chelsea and Tottenham at the top of the Premier League table with six matches to go, but this weekend it’s all about the FA Cup for the London rivals.
Putting the title race to one side, it’s a trip to Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening where one club will earn the right to meet either Arsenal or Manchester City in the final on 27 May.
Spurs are undoubtedly the form team going into the last-four tie. Since exiting the Europa League at the hands of Gent in February, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have won eight matches on the trot — scoring 24 goals (an average of three per-game) and conceding just four.
Contrastingly, Chelsea looked distinctly out-of-sorts in their defeat to Manchester United last Sunday. The good news is they look likely to welcome back Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso, but Gary Cahill will miss out after being treated for a small kidney stone.
2. It’s now or never for Boro
More than a month has passed since Middlesbrough took the decision to sack manager Aitor Karanka in the hope that it would spark a reaction. Unfortunately, since then they’ve picked up just two points from five matches under interim head coach Steve Agnew.
Sitting directly above bottom club Sunderland — who look truly dead-and-buried at this stage — time is running out for Boro if they are to stage a late surge out of the drop zone.
Scoring goals has been one of their biggest issues and they’ve found the back of the net just four times in seven-and-a-half hours of Premier League football.
But up next are 16th-placed Bournemouth this Saturday and the aforementioned Black Cats on Wednesday, so you would like to think they will be treating both as must-win games.
3. Man United must soldier on without talisman
It was agricultural and laboured at times against Anderlecht, but Manchester United eventually picked up the required result in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg.
The win came at a cost, however, as top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic went down clutching his knee as the teams were about to get set for extra-time. The Swede is expected to be ruled out for the season, meaning there won’t be a homecoming Europa League final in Stockholm for him if United progress past Celta Vigo.
Ibrahimovic goes down injured as the whistle blows for the end of normal time.
Source: Martin Rickett
He’s also out of this Saturday’s Premier League outing away to Bournemouth, so teenage prodigy Marcus Rashford is likely to continue to benefit as the main striker. With a game in hand on city rivals Man City, United can close the gap on the Champions League spots to a single point at Dean Court.