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DIEGO COSTA has a score to settle with Spurs. Chelsea’s prolific marksman has managed just one goal in five games against the Blues’ FA Cup semi-final opponents and that came in a 5-3 defeat at White Hart Lane in January 2015.
The fiery forward is also suffering his worst dry spell of a season in which he’s bagged 17 goals in 30 Premier League games. Costa hasn’t managed a single goal in his past six matches for Chelsea and it’s perhaps no coincidence that him firing blanks has coincided with the league leaders’ recent run of two defeats in the last four games.
Based on the above I would say he’s due a return to scoring ways and would be a decent shout for the first man to hit the net in Saturday evening’s FA Cup clash.
The Wembley showdown is a re-run of the 2015 League Cup final which Chelsea won 2-0. In the four games between these two since, there has been a win apiece and two draws.
Spurs are the team in form with eight straight wins. Five of Chelsea’s six defeats this season have happened in London. While Costa has struggled of late, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min has buried eight goals in his last six matches.
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Saturday, April 22
Bournemouth v Middlesbrough (3pm)
Bournemouth sit seven points clear of the drop zone with five games to play. A win over sinking Boro would all but guarantee another season of Premier League football at the Vitality Stadium next season. Josh King is their in-form hitman with seven goals in his last eight matches. Middlesbrough are six points adrift of safety with six games to play and are suffering a 15-game streak without a Premier League win. Jim’s prediction: More misery for Middlesbrough, home win.
Hull v Watford (3pm)
Hull’s home fire has been burning bright since Marco Silva took over. They’ve plundered five wins and a draw from the past six Premier League games at the KC Stadium. Their small two-point cushion above the relegation zone could be plumped up nicely here with another home victory. Watford have won three of their last four games to force their way into the top 10. Captain Troy Deeney has five goals from his last nine matches – not including the own goal he registered against Crystal Palace. Jim’s prediction: Hull to take a huge step towards safety with a home win.
Swansea v Stoke (3pm)
It’s not quite last chance saloon for Swansea but they could not have picked a worse time to stumble through a run of one draw and five defeats in their last six matches. They’ve also managed just one goal in the last five and are two points behind 17th-place Hull with five games to play. Stoke ended a five-game run without a win by beating Hull 3-1 last time out, with Xherdan Shaqiri hitting a stunner. Jim’s prediction: A gritty draw.
West Ham v Everton (3pm)
It has been 10 years almost to the day since West Ham won a home game against Everton. Bobby Zamora’s solitary goal decided matters on April 21, 2007, since when Everton have won seven and drawn three of their 10 league and cup visits to the Irons. Perhaps the much maligned London Stadium could see a reversal of fortune for West Ham. Jim’s prediction: … or perhaps not. Away win.
FA Cup semi-final. Chelsea v Tottenham (5.15pm)
See details of the incredible Coral New Customer Offer above. Jim’s prediction: Tottenham push it close but Chelsea to go through.
Sunday, April 23
Burnley v Manchester United (2.15pm)
Burnley appear to have done enough to keep their seat at the top table next season, perched eight points above the bottom three with five games to play. That good work has been forged at home, where they’ve won 10 and drawn two of their 16 games, amassing 32 points. Jose Mourinho is adamant that Man United are still chasing fourth spot and with Man City to come after this game, that’s still a realistic target. Marcus Rashford has come alive in the past couple of weeks, scoring in each of his last two league games. Jim’s prediction: That fourth spot is all important to Mr Mourinho and failure is not an option. Away win.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace (4.30pm)
Liverpool have shaken off the lethargy that afflicted their start to 2017 and are now unbeaten in seven games. Jurgen Klopp’s men have also just picked up back-to-back away victories at Stoke and West Brom, with Brazil striker Roberto Firmino hitting the winner in both games. Crystal Palace demonstrated some fighting spirit last weekend as they extended their run to just one defeat in seven games with a draw against Leicester. Christian Benteke grabbed the equaliser in that game for his third goal in four matches. Jim’s prediction: A fast flowing score draw.
FA Cup semi-final. Arsenal v Manchester City (3pm)
Two teams with two managers both eager to capitalise on their last chance to win a trophy in generally disappointing terms. Pep Guardiola has won silverware in every season he has been in management since taking over Barcelona in 2008-09 while Arsene Wenger is looking to add to the record six FA Cups he has won with Arsenal, the last coming in 2015. Both clubs have just returned to winning ways after late season dips in form. Two of Leroy Sane’s five Premier League goals for Man City this season came in the two matches with Arsenal, a 2-1 win at the Etihad in December and a 2-2 draw at the Emirates on April 2. Theo Walcott returned the favour and has scored in three of his last four games against City. Jim’s prediction: A fast-paced affair with Man City winning a place in the final.