Previewing FA Cup final four
The 2012 FA Cup semifinal round features two crosstown rivalries at Wembley Stadium in London this weekend. Liverpool and Everton kick off the festivities in a Merseyside derby on Saturday, followed by Tottenham and Chelsea in an all-London affair on Sunday. Here are five notes on the final four in this season's installment of the world's oldest soccer competition:
• With 26 FA Cup trophies among the group, this year's tournament features the first double-derby semifinal round since 1993 and only the third in the competition's history. The first was in 1950 and also included Merseyside and London derbies, except Arsenal was the London club that faced Chelsea that year.
• Saturday will be the first time Liverpool and Everton have faced each other at Wembley since the 1989 FA Cup final, the second of two finals the Reds won against their archrivals in four years. The two Merseyside clubs have met 22 times in the FA Cup and have featured in a combined 46 semifinals, with Everton edging Liverpool 24-22. Liverpool has not defeated Everton in their last five FA Cup pairings, losing two and drawing three.
• Liverpool has had more success in cup competitions than it has in league play this season. Picking up just 11 league points since the beginning of the year and losing five of its last eight Premier League matches, Liverpool sits eighth in the league, one point behind Everton. But with Liverpool earning its first trophy in six years by beating Cardiff City in February's Carling Cup final, the red side of town hopes there will be more silverware to hoist in the near future.
• In the Premier League era, Chelsea's five FA Cup titles are tied with Arsenal for the most among Premier League teams, and only Arsenal, which has eight semifinal appearances, has more than Chelsea's seven. Chelsea has raised the FA Cup trophy each of the last three times it has reached the semifinals and has done so in three of the previous five seasons.
• The two London clubs have met three times (most recently in 2007) in the FA Cup since Tottenham defeated Chelsea in the 1967 final, each time in the sixth round. Each time one of the two eventually reached the final, and this is the first time they have met in the semifinals.