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United v Spurs - preview panel

Posted on 20 April 2018  - 14:15

Gary Mabbutt, FA Cup-winning captain and Simon Peach, chief football writer at the Press Association, take a look at Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against United.

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mabbsy250x300a THE LEGEND – GARY MABBUTT

Second in our all-time appearance list with 611 in all competitions, FA Cup-winning captain in 1991, ‘Mabbsy’ saw it all in his 16 years at Spurs. 

“I honestly think we’ve given ourselves as good a chance to win the FA Cup as we’ve had for a long time. On our day, we can beat the teams left in the competition (United, Chelsea, Southampton) and you only have to look at some of the performances in the cups this season, especially the Champions League, to show what we’re capable of. We’re familiar with Wembley and our performances there have got better and better. I also felt we completely outplayed United in the win at the end of January (2-0, 31 January) and I’m sure the players will take confidence from that performance and result.

“I see the midfield as key. We dominated in that area in January with the likes of Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli all able to cause United problems.  I’ve watched United quite closely and I feel that’s an area where we can ask United a lot of questions again. I just feel we have the upper hand, we’ll be focused and we have a great opportunity.”

peach250 THE PUNDIT – SIMON PEACH  

Simon knows United inside-out in his role as chief football writer at the Press Association. 

“Both sides have had ups and downs recently, yet their strength in depth, skill and hunger sets this potentially season-defining game up nicely. United have endured a particularly topsy-turvy time of late, with their remarkable comeback win Manchester City followed by a maddening home loss to rudderless and managerless West Brom. Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Bournemouth was a timely shot in the arm, especially for the much-scrutinised Paul Pogba, as Jose Mourinho used the chance to both rest and test.

“Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are knocking on the door as Alexis Sanchez toils, while Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia will come into the semi-final fresh from being rested in midweek. Chris Smalling continues to look solid in front of the ever-impressive David De Gea, but the goalkeeper this week named in the PFA Team of the Year is sure to have his work cut out on Saturday.

“Spurs’ attack gave United a torrid time in January, when Christian Eriksen ran amok as  Son Heung-min and Harry Kane proved a thorn in the side. It is a blue print that Mauricio Pochettino would do well to stick to at Wembley, where the ‘home’ makes me believe Tottenham will progress.”