As we await the outcome of the eagerly anticipated quarter final replay between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge next month, three of the semi final contestants have already been decided and the victors in this high profile encounter will have Manchester City awaiting them in the second of the two Wembley semi final fixtures whilst the first match will see Millwall and Wigan Athletic do battle. Although holding the semi finals at Wembley stadium remains a controversial subject with traditionalists, it is unlikely you’ll hear any complaints from Wigan fans who haven’t visited Wembley since losing the 99/2000 Division Two (now League One) Playoff Final against Gillingham. In fact this is the first time Wigan have played at the new Wembley stadium as well as being their first ever appearance in an FA Cup Semi Final.
Wigan’s Semi Final opponents Millwall have far more of a recent pedigree at Wembley, having last visited the stadium for their 2010 League One Playoff Final win over Swindon Town, which came just a year after their last appearance at Wembley when they were defeated by Scunthorpe United in the 2009 League One Playoff Final. Millwall are also no strangers to the later stages of the FA Cup, making it all the way to the final in 2004 when they were beaten by Manchester United in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
On the other side of the draw are the big boys, with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City lying in wait for either Chelsea or arch rivals Manchester United, depending on the outcome of their 1st April quarter final replay. City fans are divided between those who’d love Manchester United to be their semi final opponents so as to get the chance to beat them to the final, and those who would rather not face the possibility of losing to United in such a prestigious game. It’s a classic football fan’s dilemma: you always want to beat your rivals, but the thought of being beaten by them when it matters most is too much to bear.
The potential match up of the two Manchester clubs is given added spice by virtue of the fact that Manchester United have all but won the Premier League title, sitting 12 points clear of City who occupy second spot and look set to relinquish their first title in 44 years. Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming games, it’s a good bet there’ll be plenty of coaches to Wembley booked from Manchester in the coming weeks, but just how many there are all depends on Chelsea.
Arnold Franklin is a passionate football fan who writes for a number of football blogs in between following his beloved Crawley Town FC