FA Cup semi-finals preview - who will return to Wembley in May?

Arsenal face Wigan Athletic on Saturday evening with Hull City taking on Sheffield United on Sunday afternoon. Both games will be played at Wembley Stadium.

FA Cup semi-final weekend is always a special time in the football calendar, and for some this year they would say that the ‘romance’ of the FA Cup has returned given the semi-final line-up.

The unfancied holders remain in the competition, the overwhelming favourites are struggling, a mid-table top flight team and a team from the third tier will all battle it out for a place in the final on 17th May.

Wigan Athletic v Arsenal

Odds (90 mins): Wigan 13/2, Draw 7/2, Arsenal 1/2

Arsenal haven’t had the easiest route to the semi-finals, even though all of their games were at home. But they came up against Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton en route to the semi-finals. The pressure is on Arsene Wenger to deliver a trophy after the club has gone nine years without silverware.

Having been in the title race for much of the season they face a big battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with the destiny of fourth place now in the hands of Everton. They have won one in their last six league games and are really struggling for form, but it doesn’t stop them from being the bookies’ favourites to lift their first piece of silverware since 2005.

They do have their fair share of injury problems and there are question marks over the fitness of several players including Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs. 

Wigan’s love affair with the cup seems to continue and they have produced a couple of shocks themselves by overcoming Crystal Palace, and dumping out last season’s finalists Manchester City in their own backyard, leading to their fans dreaming of an improbable retention of the trophy.

Preparation for the Latics hasn't been ideal with their midweek defeat to Millwall where manager Uwe Rosler made eight changes to the side, but they have players capable of playing in the Premier League in the form of James McClean and Nick Powell who can cause the Gunners problems. 

Their form has been a little bumpy as the cup tie has got closer, but there have been some creditable results including a 3-3 draw against Leicester City, who have now been promoted to the Premier League, and a gutsy home win over Leeds United last weekend.

Regardless of the outcome of the match, Wigan can be very proud with their efforts defending the trophy under Uwe Rosler - but you would be a brave person to discount them.

Hull City v Sheffield United

Odds: Hull City 8/11, Draw 11/4, Sheffield United 9/2

Hull have probably had the best draw in this competition, that's not to say it has been easy for Steve Bruce's men. They have faced tricky ties away at Middlesbrough, Southend United and Brighton before they overcame Sunderland at home in the quarter-finals. They will be strong favourites in this tie but will be without their cup-tied strike duo of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long. They've had a good first season back in the Premier League and near enough safe from any threat of relegation.

Hull fans will view this as probably the best opportunity they will ever have to win their first major trophy, with this only their second semi-final appearance in the competition, the first was in 1930 where they met Arsenal. 

Sheffield United have had a massive revival under Nigel Clough this season. It looked as though they would be in a relegation battle in League One. Instead they find themselves comfortably clear of the relegation zone - 13 points away from the drop zone - in midtable. One player that will catch the eye is that of Conor Coady, who is currently on loan from Liverpool.

The Blades have been defying the odds for much of their cup run as they have beaten Aston Villa and Fulham away from home, as well as Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic at home. It's fair to say that they have done it the hard way, and will relish being the underdogs once again.

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