Premier League and FA Cup semi-finals: 10 things to watch this weekend | In football

1) The city makes penalties at the end of business

It’s been a physically and emotionally draining week for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola says the city is “in big trouble” due to injuries sustained in its triumphant run at the Metropolitan Wanda after Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker were constrained. Phil Foden spent most of the game with a bandaged head after an unnecessarily robust challenge from Felipe. Although it will take a bit of rejigging for the second meeting with Liverpool in a week, the real challenge for Guardiola will be to mentally refresh the team for another game of the season. The level of concentration required at the Etihad on Sunday and in Spain on Wednesday will have been incredibly challenging for the players, as many play in both. An FA Cup semi-final is the kind of competition to keep the mind, even if there will be no rest afterwards. The city plays two games a week until mid-May, so it has to manage its bodies and minds carefully for the foreseeable future. There can be no slip-ups. WU

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    2) Klopp will not follow Simeone’s playbook

    Those who hope that the Liverpool-City rivalry could add a dimension of fervent contempt to make it more fun for neutrals can achieve their desire for familiarity. Just six days into a game that had Alan Shearer and even Roy Keane squabbling over the art of football, Wembley’s wide open spaces and the triple and quadruple prospects in play can only add to the tension needed. Chuck in a heavy fall here and a controversial refereeing decision here, and the pitch can barely boil. It’s not that Jürgen Klopp is likely to follow Diego Simeone’s book: his focus is always on getting the best out of his team rather than dragging the opposition away. Although he could play Harvey Elliott and Roberto Firmino on the bench last week, Caoimhín Kelleher – despite his Wembley heroism in the Carabao Cup – is unlikely to be the goalkeeper, Alisson played in the quarter-finals in Nottingham Forest. The expected presence of the Brazilian reflects the importance of competition for his manager. JB

    Gabriel Jesus beat Alisson in the Premier League draw last weekend. Photography: Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

    3) Chelsea are aiming for the final submission for the era

    Antonio Rüdiger’s post-match fury gained instant meme status when Chelsea left the Champions League. The unusual slip of the German had allowed Karim Benzema of Real Madrid to steal for the head who decided the link. The Bernabeu is a possible destination for a player whose contract expires at the end of the season, as time passes on the team funded by Roman Abramovich. The extension of César Azpilicueta’s contract may have been activated recently, but this cannot prevent his departure and he, Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen are all linked with Barcelona, ​​where free transfers have been used to rebuild him. If Abramovich was always around, the future of Thomas Tuchel would almost certainly be in question, but the four consortia offering to buy the Russian’s frozen stake in the club all seem to acknowledge his popularity with fans. Now the Champions League defense is gone, reaching the FA Cup final would allow the Abramovich era a mandate in a grand stage. JB

    4) Gallagher robbed of great opportunity

    Football is full of stupid rules that help bigger clubs maintain power over smaller ones. For example, Conor Gallagher cannot play in an FA Cup semi-final despite helping Crystal Palace through every round at Wembley, only because he owns Chelsea, a club that left him in the summer because they did not want to use it. They are not allowed to play. If Chelsea are willing to lend a player, they must do so at their own risk. Gallagher has been an outstanding performer all season for Patrick Vieira, the manager who helps him improve as a player, giving him experience and increasing his value. All of which helps Chelsea in the long run. If Gallagher had been allowed to play and scored the winner for the Palace, this is a danger that Chelsea would have had to survive. Surely the point of sending Gallagher out is for him to experience great opportunities and deal with them? WU

    Conor Gallagher played for England
    Conor Gallagher has played for Wembley for England this season, but is out of the semi-finals on Sunday. Photography: Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images

    5) Dier shows international quality again

    Antonio Conte’s renewed and revitalized front earned praise as the Spurs made a one-time charge for fourth place, but further back a foundation was laid. Eric Dier has settled into the heart of a three-man discipline that has conceded five times in the last seven Premier League games (three of which have come at Old Trafford). While Harry Maguire is battling Manchester United, Dier looks set to become an international footballer again and should join his 45 caps in England in the near future. He may be the best English center-back in the Premier League in form. Gareth Southgate likes to play with three central defenders, so Dier seems like an obvious choice. He plays in the most successful club version of the same lineup and the League of Nations matches are in June. Dier has already made 28 Premier League appearances this season; the last time it did more was in 2017-18, a sign it finds greater consistency. WU

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    6) Rangnick the last spare part United

    David de Gea, Juan Mata and Phil Jones are the survivors of the last Manchester United team that lost to Norwich, a 2-1 victory for the Canaries at Old Trafford in December 2015. This United team has finished the season of the Premier League in fifth, while the current. the sides are sixth with little chance of climbing to fourth. Louis van Gaal paid fifth with his pocket. While Ralf Rangnick’s role was only temporary, United’s slump, taking his inability to stop Maguire’s decline or answer Cristiano Ronaldo’s question, means that his credibility as a future owner consultant has been undermined. marked. Rangnick’s response to Saturday’s defeat to Everton was a shoulder-injury, and he also hinted that he had played no part in recruiting a new manager, who was expected to be Erik ten Hag. The German is not alone in becoming a replacement in the midst of the fall of United. Such dysfunction is now part of the package. JB

    Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford
    Ralf Rangnick’s time at Old Trafford is nearing the end. Photo: Ash Donelon / Manchester United / Getty Images

    7) Xhaka continues on the road to rehabilitation

    “I understand we will never be best friends,” was how Granit Xhaka described his relationship with Arsenal fans in a Players ’Tribune piece published Wednesday. “I want you to know that everything I do on the field comes from the right place.” That Xhaka has not lived up to expectations since his arrival from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer of 2016 is true. He is known for some unfair tackling and a confrontation with home supporters in 2019. But he has also been supported by each of Arsène Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta and is a home idol in Switzerland, where there is a distaste for a state. of pariah. . At St Mary’s, with Kieran Tierney out for the season and Nuno Tavares struggling to settle, it is likely that Xhaka will be asked to take over the missing shoulder role he was given against Brighton last week. Such adaptability is what older players offer to their leaders. JB

    8) The house shape cost Watford dearly

    This week, Watford Council confirmed its commitment to stay on Vicarage Road, expanding to a capacity of 22,000 a case of “when, not if”. There has been talk of relocating to a purpose-built stadium at Bushey Hall Golf Club with a capacity of 33,000, but that seems to be coming to an end. Its day, the old place, its corners now all closed, can give a lively and fun atmosphere and is quite close to the city center, unlike many new stadiums. Unfortunately, his chances of staying on Premier League soil are low and above all in the form of the team’s ruined home. Roy Hodgson’s record of seven losses in 11 games includes a total spot on Vicarage Road. Watford last won against Manchester United on 20 November, losing every home game since. Saturday’s chance to stage the last chapter of Christian Eriksen’s Brentford fable seems high. JB

    Vicar Street
    Vicarage Road at its end. Photo: Nigel Keene / ProSports / Shutterstock

    9) Almirón’s chance to prove he has a future

    Ryan Fraser’s injury against the Wolves allowed Miguel Almirón a chance from the Newcastle bench. The Paraguayan has started just 13 times in the Premier League this season, but has a chance to cement a spot for the run-in. Against the Wolves, he was tireless, proving that he can do the defensive side of the game demanded by Eddie Howe, after being a free spirit. Almirón also made a real difference going forward, helping to create a goal eventually ruled out by VAR. Almirón’s agent recently visited the Northeast to discuss the player’s future. . The playmaker should use the forward games to show what he can offer Newcastle in the long run, starting with his visit to Leicester. There will be no shortage of new arrivals in the summer. WU

    10) Clarets need more from Weghorst

    Wout Weghorst scored 11 minutes in the second half of Burnley’s defeat to Norwich last week. The Dutch international is supposed to shoot the Clarets in safety, but has only managed one goal in 12 appearances since arriving in January. “I think – and it’s a positive, but it’s a strange thing to mention – Wout is almost too much on the team at the moment,” Sean Dyche said after the loss. Weghorst spent most of the game trying to control long balls and bring others into the game, but he provided little to the team. Weghorst must be in the box to reach the end of quality crossroads, something absent on Carrow Road. Burnley’s style is based on having a great successful striker. Without it their relegation can be confirmed much earlier than is necessary. WU

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