Two seven-time winners of the FA Cup, Aston Villa and Liverpool, will fight for the chance to add to their tally when they meet in the second semi-final.
On the face of it, this looks a very tough game to call with Villa having been galvanised in recent weeks by new boss Tim Sherwood, while Liverpool have not entirely convinced of late despite winning their last two matches. Also, the drama witnessed in the first semi-final between Reading and Arsenal means nothing can be taken for granted.
The scenes that took place late on in Villa’s quarter-final win over rivals West Bromwich Albion showed what winning the FA Cup for the first time in 58 years would mean to their supporters, and they come into this in form. Victory away to Tottenham last time out means they are in a good position to avoid relegation.
Christian Benteke has been completely transformed in recent weeks, while for Liverpool much of the attention will be on Raheem Sterling, as has been the case for much of April thus far. He scored a fine goal to help see them past Newcastle United on Monday night, but he is under pressure to perform on the big occasion.
Liverpool will be marginal favourites, but have made hard work of their progress in this competition, narrowly seeing off League Two opposition in the third round and being taken to replays by two stubborn Championship clubs. The key battle here will be the power of Benteke and the pace of those supporting him against the Reds defence.
Scott Sinclair and Ashley Westwood are back available for Villa, but Gabriel Agbonlahor is doubtful while Ciaran Clark and Carlos Sanchez are definitely out. For Liverpool, Jordon Ibe is cup-tied, Daniel Sturridge is a major doubt, and Mamdou Sakho will be sidelined for a month.
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