Quintuple-chasing Manchester United and big rivals Chelsea remain on course for an FA Cup final showdown after they were drawn apart in Sunday’s semifinal pairings.
Everton will face United while Chelsea, who lost on penalties to Alex Ferguson’s side in the 2008 Champions League climax, await the winners of the delayed sixth round clash between Arsenal and Hull City. United thrashed Fulham 4-0 on Saturday while Everton recovered from a goal down to beat Blackburn 2-1 in a match that finished just before the draw was made. Both semifinals will be staged at Wembley Stadium on April 18 and 19 and Arsenal will be keen to make it an all-London affair after Sunday’s 3-0 fifth-round win 3-0 against Burnley at the Emirates Stadium Everton striker Louis Saha, who scored the winner against Boro, admitted United’s 4-0 quarterfinal victory over Fulham gives the Merseysiders plenty to think about. The former United player told evertonTV: “It is a special thing to go to Wembley. I think it is going to be a really tough game but we have been great all season so far. “We have shown great commitment in the FA Cup so we have to show that to keep winning the next two games. “You have to beat the big teams at some point and this will be a big test for us because they are the best team around.” United and Chelsea met in the FA Cup final two years ago with Chelsea winning 1-0 in extra-time through Didier Drogba. But Ferguson’s side got the better of the Blues on penalties in Moscow last May and their latest Premier League meeting resulted in a 3-0 victory for United. Neither side will take a final appearance for granted, though, with Ferguson well aware of Everton’s capabilities in the cup. The Toffees’ last major trophy was their FA Cup victory in 1995, when they upset United 1-0 in the final. Arsenal will be firm favorites to beat Hull when they meet at the Emirates, despite the Tigers’ shock victory there in the league this season. The Gunners and Chelsea last faced each other in the FA Cup in the fifth round in 2004, when Arsenal triumphed 2-1. Guus Hiddink’s side may have to overcome more than 60 years of history if they are to reach the final again — they have not beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup since 1947. Carlos Vela earned Arsenal a half-time lead against Burnley before Eduardo’s stunning second and Emmanuel Eboue’s third saw the Gunners cruise through. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes the result will provide a boost for his side ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League first knockout round second leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
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Wenger, whose side hold a 1-0 first-leg lead, told Setanta 1: “When you score goals it helps always to lift confidence and belief and it’s important for us to go to Roma with the feeling that we can do the job well.” The Frenchman praised the quality of his team’s performance, particularly the goals. “We scored three good goals, we could have scored more, but what is important with Roma away now in the Champions League is that we didn’t concede.” Everton boss David Moyes made an inspired substitution at the break against Blackburn, sending on Louis Saha for rookie Jack Rodwell — and the result was two goals in six minutes at the beginning of the second period. Middlesbrough were leading deservedly at the break through David Wheater’s header a minute from half-time. Marouane Fellaini headed Everton level after 50 minutes before Saha soared in the six-yard box to nod the winner.