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When the draw for the FA Cup semifinals was announced, most football fans in the North London region would have been excited because the draw gives a chance for a potential North London derby in the final of the cup event.
Arsenal were paired up against Manchester City, while Tottenham Hotspur were drawn to take on Premier League leaders Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. This opened up a window for Tottenham and Arsenal to go head to head in the finals, if they manage to beat their opponents in the next round.
Arsenal haven’t really been tested in the competition yet. The Gunners faced championship side Preston North End in the third round whom they defeated 2-1, before thrashing Southampton 5-0 in the subsequent round. The last two fixtures for Arsene Wenger’s men have been against non-league opponents Sutton United and Lincoln City, whom they beat 2-0 and 5-0 respectively to advance to the semi-finals.
The Gunners have faced Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side once this season, back in December, when they were handed a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. This clash will by far be the biggest test for Arsenal in the competition and they will get a taste of what is to come when they meet the Citizens at the Emirates stadium for the league clash, three weeks prior to the semi-finals.
On the other hand, Tottenham had a comfortable start to their FA Cup campaign, beating Aston Villa 2-0. But they survived an upset scare in the fourth round against Wycombe Wanderers escaping with a narrow 4-3 victory at home. Another comfortable 3-0 win at Fulham followed, before they mauled Championship outfit Millwall 6-0 at home in the quarterfinals. However, they did lose star striker Harry Kane to an ankle injury in the early stages of the encounter against Millwall last weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have faced Chelsea twice this season in the league. In their first meeting at Stamford Bridge, they were beaten 2-1, but an excellent performance at home in the return fixture meant Tottenham defeated Antonio Conte’s men 2-0. Tottenham have been one of the best teams in the league and have a great chance of progressing to finals of the FA Cup.
The prospect of Arsenal and Tottenham facing each other could be a stimulating occasion for the fans of both sides, with both sets of supporters wanting their teams to get one over their bitter-most rivals. The two North London clubs have faced each other on 6 occasions in the FA Cup, with the Gunners triumphing four times and Spurs twice. The last time the two met in the competition was back in 2014 when Arsenal defeated the Lilywhites 3-0 in the third round.
However, things aren’t the same in North London anywhere. In the last couple of seasons, Tottenham have managed to emerge out of the shadows of their derby rivals and have become a force to be reckoned with in England. Tottenham almost managed to finish above Arsenal in the league last season, for the first time ever in their history, but a last-stage debacle meant the Gunners had the last laugh.
This season as well, it looks possible that Pochettino’s men might finish ahead of Arsenal, considering that they have opened up a six-point lead on the Gunners, although the men in red have a game in hand. Only time will tell whether or not if Spurs will let things slip this time around.
Arsenal have won 12 FA Cup trophies, with their last triumph coming in the 2015-16 season. In comparison, Tottenham have 8 of those in their cabinet. Tottenham’s last won the FA Cup twenty-six years ago, in 1990-91.
But, if they do face each other in the finals of the FA Cup this season and if Tottenham manage to get one over their local rivals, along with a better finish in the league, it could prove to be a real statement. The powers could finally be shifting in the North London.