No respite for Man City, Gunners


Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta talking to his players. He will have to get them over their Champions League exit if they are to resume their bid for the league title with a win at Wolves today. — AP

After midweek heartbreak, title chasers face prospect of more pain

WHAT looked like a possible Champions League final between two of England’s biggest clubs just a few days ago has fallen apart and left their managers with big headaches ahead of crucial clashes this weekend.

Manchester City were eliminated by Real Madrid in midweek from the quarterfinals of Europe’s elite club tournament, along with Arsenal who were knocked out by Germany’s Bayern Munich.

Today, both sides turn their attention to the domestic front. Man City face Chelsea in the first FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium, while Arsenal are away to Wolves.

And in both instances, the two title-chasing outfits appear to be in for stern tests, for their management teams will have to somehow find the means to lift the players’ spirits and perform as well as they can.

If it were any other weekend, one would expect City to be overwhelming favourites to dispatch Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues with ease.

But for some reason, Chelsea appear to have awoken from their slumber and given themselves a decent chance of reaching their second cup final of the season.

They lost to Liverpool in the Carabao League Cup final at the same venue in February.

What should spur Chelsea is the way they swept aside Everton on Monday.

They thumped the Toffees 6-0 to put themselves in a position with a chance of leapfrogging Manchester United in seventh place and drawing level with six-placed Newcastle, should they capitalise on their game in hand.

Pochettino has a squad good enough to take any side in the league and get the better of them.

The big issue the Argentine manager has is that they don’t often gel as well-drilled sides should, or at least they haven’t until now.

They have only shown flashes of serious resolve, as they did at the beginning of the week and when they dug deep to beat Man United 4-3 and Newcastle 3-2 in the last month or so.

Pochettino will also remind his charges that they held City to a draw at the Etihad a few weeks ago, and convince them that they have what it takes to see off the champions.

But it will not be easy to get past Pep Guardiola’s Citizens.

If anything, Chelsea could face backlash stemming from City’s defeat in midweek.

This all should make for a fascinating cup tie – one that the Spaniard’s side should win, even if by a narrow margin.

Arsenal, too, will be expected to lift themselves from the ashes of defeat in Munich and move back to the top of the league standings.

They trail Man City by a single point and are tied with third-placed Liverpool at 71. All three clubs have played 32 matches.

Man United should reach the FA Cup final at the expense of Championship outfit Coventry.

They meet in the second semi-final at Wembley tomorrow.

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