Jose Mourinho admitted he knows he is risking the buy-in of Manchester United players by criticising them in public following United’s 2-0 over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. He said, “Yes. My calculation is that without pressure, they don’t perform well. What can I lose? And the ones that are always there are the ones that will always be there. And that is an example of personality.”
United’s victory was ponderous with goals late in each half from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic sealing a place in the semi-finals where they will play Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
Antonio Conte watched his Chelsea side overcome Leicester City in extra-time and declared, “I want to try and change the final result compared to 2017”.
With the FA Cup being Chelsea’s only hope of silverware in a frustrating season both on and off the pitch, Conte was pleased with the “heart” shown by his players in a narrow win over the 2015/16 Premier League Champions.
Alvaro Morata had got Chelsea off to a good start, starting the Quarter Final having been on the bench in the Nou Camp defeat. Jamie Vardy levelled matters for Leicester midway through the second half taking the tie to extra time. It was Pedro who popped up with the winning goal, meaning Chelsea will travel to Wembley to face Mark Hughes’ latest club, Southampton.
Conte said after the game;
“This trophy is very important, very important in this country. There is great consideration given to this trophy. Last season, it was a pity to lose the final. To celebrate the Double with the players [would have been special]. This season our target is to try and do our best and reach the final again this season. When we are able to reach the final, I want to try to change the final result compared to last season.
But this is not an easy draw. As you know very well, I think when you arrive at this point of the tournament it’s very difficult to consider a game ‘easy’. Don’t forget Manchester City were eliminated against Wigan. We must be ready to fight to try to reach the final at Wembley for the second time in a row. It will be very important for us, but we have to know that Southampton have the same idea as us.”
Mark Hughes got his Southampton reign off to a winning start, seeing off giant-killers Wigan Athletic 2-0. With Premier League survival being what Hughes shall be judged on, the FA Cup will no doubt be an unwelcome distraction.
Swansea City took to the field looking like a team that would rather be focusing on staying in the top flight as they went down meekly to Tottenham Hotspur. Christian Eriksen was in fine form as he led Spurs to a 3-0 win.
Harry Kane will hope to be fit for the tie as he is scheduled to return on the weekend of April 7th.