Even though this year’s FA Cup draw will allow for an outsider to experience a cup final Wembley day-out, part of me kind of hoped the Manchester derby could have waited for the competition’s climax. Then again, it’s sure to be a tasty affair, whenever, or wherever the two giants of English football are drawn together in any competition. But other than the anticipation of another great United versus City game, does the semi-final represent something of a warning to the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea? Is the future of English football now in Manchester?
Naturally, fans of the London clubs won’t be so quick to make such an admission. But Arsenal and Chelsea have both had faltering seasons. Compare that to Man City’s recent exploits and even the most die-hard of fans would admit it’s a concern. Manchester United have somehow managed to remain top of the league and in the hunt for FA Cup and Champions League glory, but even Sir Alex Ferguson must recognise the need to strengthen his side in the summer, as his Manchester rivals are only likely to get stronger.
Any team in the Premier League title race, either this season or next, will consider Manchester City one of the favourites for the crown. They have a fantastic squad, which will be added to. So to stop them becoming a dominant force, the rest have a game of catch-up to play. United aren’t far off, and I personally think that Chelsea will be much stronger next season when Fernando Torres and David Luiz have chance to settle in to their new surroundings. Arsenal’s flaws have been underlined in the past week or so, and yes I know it was all the ref’s fault, but the bottom line is they weren’t strong enough. City and co are only likely to distance themselves from the Gunners, that’s if Arsene Wenger doesn’t act fast.
So when the two teams from the North-West descend on London for the FA Cup semi-final, the London teams must consider it a warning shot. For so long both have been, at some point or another, the closest challengers to Manchester United. But there is a danger they could get left behind. The powers that be at Chelsea seem to have recognised this themselves as the money they threw out in January represented something of panic purchasing in order to stop a rot, but it was necessary.
Wenger doesn’t look like he’s about to change his philosophy any time soon, rightly or wrongly, so Gunners fans must hope that they have more Jack Wilshere’s coming through, or six years without a trophy could soon turn into seven, then eight, and so on, and so on.
It doesn’t make for pretty reading if you’re a fan of either Arsenal or Chelsea, but the nation’s capital has just been fired a warning shot from their foes up North. The all-Manchester FA Cup semi-final could represent the start of a period of dominance from the two clubs. It’s time for the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea to act to keep the Premier League as interesting as it has been this season.
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