FA Cup Final Preview – Another Manchester Derby at Wembley

The weekend saw the end of a thrilling Premier League campaign with a title decider on the final day. Manchester City won their fourth consecutive title, snatching the trophy from Arsenal’s grasp by two points. For 18 of the Premier League clubs that is the season complete as far as they are concerned, however, for the two Manchester clubs there is still silverware to play for.

A repeat of last year’s final, Wembley will host another Manchester derby as Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United will try to prevent Manchester City from winning a second consecutive FA Cup over them. City are targeting yet another trophy at Wembley while a defeat for United would put the lid on a very mediocre season and unveil further questions about Ten Hag’s future as head coach.

An 8th place finish in the league, knocked out in, what seemed, a comfortable Champions League group and no European football on the cards for next year, unless they win the FA Cup; it has been bleak for the Red Devils. Questions over Ten Hag’s tenure at the club have been raised, however, two wins to complete the season over Newcastle and Brighton may provide momentum for Ten Hag to redeem himself under the Wembley Arch.

City, on the other hand, have been ruthless once again this season. Narrowly knocked out of the Champions League on penalties to Real Madrid, they are unbeaten (excluding penalties) since December helping them storm to their eighth Premier League title; their sixth in seven years. At the moment they seem unstoppable, with 9 Premier League wins on the bounce and 20 goals in their last six games, any team will fear Guardiola’s side at the moment. Can they also claim their eighth FA Cup?

The 2023 FA Cup final was also a Manchester Derby and one in which City came out on top. Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds as City took an early lead, before Bruno Fernandes levelled the scoring from the penalty spot just after the first half hour.

However, it was Gundogan again who ultimately grabbed the winner just after half-time as City were 2-1 winners. Gundogan’s opening goal was the fastest goal in FA Cup final history, surpassing Louis Saha’s record goal by 13 seconds from 2009.

Treble winners last year, City will be determined to add to their Premier League trophy after the disappointment of not being able to defend their Champions League title. The Blue side of Manchester will go into this one as strong favourites. With that said, City will need to be on their A game with the added pressure of a derby and a final, anything is possible as Ten Hag’s men will be keen to rain on City’s parade.

So who do you think will win this famous fixture and add another piece of silverware to their illustrious collection? An underdog win for United, or do Manchester City win yet another major trophy? It will certainly be a thrilling spectacle and has the possibility of a classic Wembley final.

Want to watch it live from the best seats in the house? Check out Engage’s hospitality offers to watch the FA Cup finale!

Looking back on another thrilling Premier League season

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Manchester City winning the league. Another incredible Premier League season has come to a close, with City pipping Arsenal to claim yet another title.

As we start counting down the days until the next campaign starts (only 88 to go!), we’ve taken a look back at all the key moments that made the 2023/24 season so special.

Man City hold off Arsenal to claim record title

The title race went down to the final day but sadly for Arsenal, they needed something to happen that so very rarely does at this stage of the season – Manchester City to drop points.

And the north London side’s hopes were as good as over after just two minutes as Phil Foden fired City ahead against West Ham. The defending champions were imperious in the final few months of the campaign as they became the first team to ever win four successive Premier League titles. It was their sixth under Pep Guardiola and they could complete yet another double when they meet neighbours Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

For the second year in a row, Arsenal were second best but they improved this time around, only missing out by two points. Yet they’ll be confident of improving next season with their young talismen like Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and William Saliba developing into genuine world class players in recent years.

The signings of Declan Rice, David Raya and Kai Havertz have undoubtedly made them stronger and a few shrewd additions in the summer could be the difference for Mikel Arteta’s side next year. But ultimately, to compete with City you can’t afford to take your foot off the gas and Arsenal will look at defeats to Fulham, West Ham and twice against Aston Villa as key turning points in their season.

The champions could argue they weren’t even at their brilliant best this season but their robotic ruthlessness shone through. Erling Haaland didn’t quite hit the heights of last season in terms of goals but he still blew the competition out of the water with 27 goals to claim the golden boot.

Meanwhile, Foden continued to show his brilliance and was rewarded with the Premier League Player of the Year award. England fans across the country will have their fingers firmly crossed that he can continue his form into the Euros.

With Arsenal likely to improve further and City looking as good as ever, it’s clear that these two will once again be the frontrunners in next season’s title race. But whether the Gunners can finally make up the ground is a different question.

Jurgen Klopp signs out with top-four finish

The title battle seemed to be a three-horse race for much of the season but a drop off from Liverpool in recent months saw them ultimately finish third. While Jurgen Klopp would have loved to have signed out with another Premier League trophy, he’ll be pleased to have secured Liverpool Champions League football having missed out a year ago.

The German has called time on his nine-year spell at Anfield in which he won eight trophies, including the 2019 Champions League. Klopp bid an emotional farewell to his home supporters on Sunday and went out on a high as Liverpool ended the season with a 2-0 win over Wolves.

With Arne Slot confirmed as his successor, next season will be an interesting one for Liverpool. The Dutchman has big shoes to fill and Liverpool fans will be forgiven for having reservations, particularly when you look at how Arsenal and Man United struggled in the wake of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson’s departures.

However, new dawns can be exciting and they have the skeleton of a really strong squad. If Mohamed Salah fancies sticking around and they can add some new faces alongside their young talent, there’s no reason why they can’t challenge.

Liverpool will be joined in next season’s Champions League by Aston Villa, who were the surprise package as they secured fourth. The 1982 European Cup winners are back in the elite competition following a remarkable season that demonstrates the incredible job that Unai Emery has done since taking over 18 months ago.

As well as beating the teams they’d expect to throughout the season, they also proved they can compete with the big boys with a number of huge results, including doing the double over Arsenal and beating Man City, as well as smashing Brighton 6-1 early in the season.

With fourth place confirmed before the final day, there wasn’t a Villa fan in the away end at Selhurst Park on Sunday who cared that their campaign fizzled out with a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of in-form Crystal Palace.

Time will tell how they’ll cope with the addition of high-level European games – Newcastle certainly struggled this year – but it will be a test of how good the likes of Ollie Watkins and co. really are.

A mixed season for the rest of the big six

Tottenham started the season strongly under new boss Ange Postecoglu and their front-footed, aggressive style made them exciting to watch. For a while it looked as though they were going to be just fine without Harry Kane but their campaign petered out, with injuries and loss of form to key players a big factor.

They ultimately finished fifth, two points off a Champions League spot, and too much reliance on Son Heung-min for goals makes attacking reinforcements this summer a necessity if they want to break back into the top four.

Chelsea ended the season superbly, winning their last five games to finish sixth. Mauricio Pochettino took a while to get going in his first campaign at the helm and was regularly bailed out by Cole Palmer, who bagged a remarkable 22 Premier League goals in his maiden season at Stamford Bridge.

It’s impossible to predict how Chelsea will do each season but after years of mismanagement, they look like they may finally have a bit of structure. With a clever transfer window there’s every chance that they’ll be able to compete at the top of the table again.

It’s been a season to forget for Manchester United but an FA cup win on Saturday could give them some reason to be cheerful. Erik ten Hag appears to be a dead man walking and few expect him to still be in charge by the time next season starts.

A miserable eighth-placed finish sums up their dismal performances this campaign and they need a major squad shake up this summer, with plenty of deadwood to ship out. There could be exciting times on the horizon under the new ownership but it can’t be fixed overnight so things may get worse before they get better.

The three promoted clubs go down

There’s no clearer way of showing the gulf between the Premier league and the Championship than when the three promoted clubs go straight back down. The fact that Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton were comfortably relegated in a season where two clubs suffered points deductions is indicative of their woes.

The trio just weren’t good enough and although they enjoyed good moments, particularly Luton, their squads lacked the Premier League quality to survive. Everton and Nottingham Forest will count themselves lucky that they were deducted points in a season where it ultimately didn’t matter, as they may not have got off so lightly in a stronger season.

Man United v Tottenham: Women’s FA Cup Final

The most prestigious competition in world football returns to Wembley this weekend as Manchester United take on Tottenham in the Women’s FA Cup final.

A new name will be etched onto the iconic trophy, with neither side yet to win the honour in their history. United have come closest having reached last year’s final but they were ultimately beaten 1-0 by Chelsea, who claimed their third successive FA Cup.

For Spurs, they’ll be playing the final for the first time and their fans will be forgiven for getting over excited as they’ve never progressed past the quarter-finals before.

The showpiece event gets underway at 2:30pm on Sunday 12th May and you can enjoy the action from the comfort of Wembley’s premier seats. Join us in style and take advantage of Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

The road to Wembley

While both sides have earned their spot in the final, their journeys to Wembley couldn’t have been much different. United have strolled past all their challengers, conceding just twice since entering the competition in round four. Meanwhile, Spurs haven’t given their fans a stress-free ride, with plenty of late goals along the way.

United cruised past Newcastle with a 5-0 win before victories at Southampton and Brighton set up a rematch of last year’s final against Chelsea in the semis. Goals from Lucia Garcia and Rachel Williams secured a 2-1 win to book their place at Wembley.

On the other hand, Tottenham’s FA Cup journey could have been over before it started. They found themselves 2-0 down to Championship outfit Sheffield United in the fourth round but

managed to fight their way back and secure a remarkable comeback thanks to Rosella Ayane’s 96th minute winner.

The north London side then edged past Charlton before another goal deep into stoppage time in the following round set up a penalty shootout win against Manchester City. Their semi-final against Leicester looked to be heading to penalties once again but Martha Thomas was on hand late on to fire Spurs through to the final.

Despite their differing journeys, both sides will fancy their chances at lifting the famous trophy for the first time. While United go into the game as favourites, Spurs will take confidence from their 2-2 draw with their opponents a few weeks ago, with a stoppage time equaliser from Maya Le Tissier salvaging a point for the northern side.

Who are the key players?

United carry plenty of goal threat and Nikita Parris has certainly stepped up this season. The 30-year-old has bagged 16 goals in all competitions so far and has taken on the goalscoring burden following Alessia Russo’s summer switch to Arsenal, backed up by the impressive England international Ella Toone.

Similarly, United may not have got this far without the goals of Williams. The striker has largely been used from the bench this year, starting just once in the league, yet she’s the top scorer in the FA Cup with four goals so far. With Sunday’s final expected to be cagey, her impact off the bench late in the game could prove valuable.

And at the other end of the pitch, United’s resilient defence has been heavily influenced by Mary Earps. The 2023 Sports Personality of the Year winner has once again been a rock at the back for Marc Skinner’s side and she’ll be desperate to add an FA Cup winner’s medal to her healthy international collection.

For Spurs, semi-final hero Thomas will be their biggest goal threat as she faces her former side. The Scotland international struggled to make an impact in her two years at United but she’s found a home at Tottenham and is their top scorer in all competitions this year with 10 goals.

Bethany England has also proven her worth up top, chipping in with seven goals. Three of those have come in the FA Cup and she’ll be looking to add to her tally in the competition as she rivals United’s Williams for the honour of the FA Cup’s top scorer.

How are they doing in the WSL?

United achieved their highest-ever finish last season, finishing second in the Women’s Super League and just two points behind champions Chelsea. This time around, they find themselves fifth in the table following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to rivals Liverpool.

Skinner’s side will be disappointed not to have capitalised on a strong campaign last time out and will be desperate to finish the season in style by claiming the FA Cup. Despite their draw with Spurs last month, a 4-0 victory in north London back in December will give them confidence of securing silverware.

Tottenham are just one place below in sixth but are seven points shy of United. They played out a 2-2 draw with Everton at the weekend to stretch their WSL unbeaten run to five games. Following the FA Cup final they’ll finish the season with clashes against Chelsea and West Ham, while United’s only remaining league fixture is also against Chelsea.

Man United break Coventry hearts to set up FA Cup final against Man City

The FA Cup final next month will be a repeat of last year’s, with two of the country’s biggest clubs – and fiercest rivals – set to lock horns at Wembley. The Manchester derby will once again head south for the weekend, with Manchester United looking to win the competition for a 13th time against neighbours Manchester City.

While United were the favourites to progress to the final as they took on Coventry City on Sunday, things could have been so different as VAR intervened to deny the Championship outfit a late winner in extra-time. Meanwhile, City bounced back from their midweek Champions League exit to edge past Chelsea and continue their hopes of winning the double.

Man United need penalties to beat Coventry

The magic of the FA Cup was alive and well on Sunday as almost 40,000 Coventry fans filled Wembley with a sea of sky blue and hopes of causing an upset. The Midlands side are no stranger to a big day out, having reached last year’s play-off final, while also winning the FA Cup back in 1987.

Coventry fans would have been forgiven for accepting defeat against United as they found themselves 3-0 down, with goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes before the hour mark.

Yet the spirit of ‘87 shone through and, combined with complacency from their Premier League opponents, Coventry mounted a remarkable comeback. Ellis Simms pulled one back in the 71st minute before Callum O’Hare added a second eight minutes later.

They piled on the pressure and were given the ultimate lifeline when Aaron Wan-Bissaka handled the ball and Coventry were awarded a penalty. In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Haji Wright stepped up and showed no signs of nerves as he fired the ball past Andre Onana to send the game to extra-time.

As football fans around the world were treated to another 30 minutes of FA Cup action, Coventry had chances to clinch the game. They thought they’d done just that when Victor Torp slotted home with seconds of extra-time left.

But Wright was adjudged to have been offside in the build up and VAR ruled out the goal, sending the match the penalties. It looked like it wasn’t going to be United’s day as experienced midfielder Casemiro fluffed the opening spot-kick.

Yet their luck changed and following misses from O’Hare and Ben Sheaf, Rasmus Hojlund buried the deciding kick to break Coventry hearts and send United to the final for the second successive year.

For Coventry, while they won’t have another FA Cup trip to Wembley this year, they’ll still have memories to last a lifetime and the belief that they can take the game to anyone as they cling on to faint hopes of reaching the play-offs again this season.

Meanwhile, while United now have the chance to end their rivals’ double dreams, their win papers over the cracks of a disappointing season, which no doubt leaves the futures of Erik ten Hag and plenty of the playing squad hanging in the balance as they prepare for a new era.

Man City bounce back from Champions League woes

After Arsenal and Liverpool both slipped up last weekend, Man City started last week on top of the world. They sat in the driving seat in the Premier League title race and were looking forward to a clash of the titans against Real Madrid.

Their joy was short lived as they took their European tie to penalties, only to miss out to the Spanish giants. But rather than feel sorry for themselves, Pep Guardiola’s side regrouped and did what they do best as they put in a professional performance to see off Chelsea at Wembley.

The London side actually had the better of the chances but a string of misses from Nicolas Jackson kept the scoreline level. Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Cole Palmer’s free-kick hit Jack Grealish’s arm but the officials had other ideas.

And with just six minutes left on the clock, Bernardo Silva, who missed a penalty in the shootout against Real Madrid, arrived at the back post to lash home the winning goal and send Chelsea home.

Following a disappointing first season for Mauricio Pochettino, an FA Cup win would have provided something to build on going into the summer. Yet the Blues will have to settle for a mid-table finish in a campaign to forget that would have been so much worse without the brilliance of Palmer.

For City, they’ll now have full focus as they target their fourth consecutive Premier League title before they return to Wembley next month to take on United.

The FA Cup Final 2024

As ever, Wembley will be the venue as United and City meet in the FA Cup final. This year’s showpiece match takes place on Saturday 25th May and you can watch all the action from the best seats in the house with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

City came out on top last year, winning the competition for the seventh time, thanks to two goals from Ilkay Gundogan. The German volleyed home after just 12 seconds and after Bruno Fernandes levelled the score with a first-half penalty, it was Gundogan on the scoresheet again as he added a second to secure a 2-1 win.

With Gundogan no longer at the club, the responsibility will fall on somebody else’s shoulders to make themselves a hero for either side, with Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden coming up against the likes of Marcus Rashford, Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho.

The Premier League Run-In

It’s April and it’s crunch-time in the Premier League. After Liverpool and Arsenal suffered defeats at the weekend, was that the final twist in the title race? Are Spurs going to crumble under the pressure in the hunt for a Champions League spot? Will Luton defy all odds and maintain their place in the ‘big time’?

It’s going to be a nervy end to the season and fans all over the country will be fixed on the edge of their seats until that final ball has been kicked on the 19th May. With only 6 games to go for most teams, who will keep their cool?

A 5-1 win over Luton for Manchester City on Saturday saw them top the table with Liverpool and Arsenal still to play. City’s position at the top was precarious as wins for Arsenal and Liverpool would see them drop back down to third. But home defeats for both sides see Pep Guardiola’s team 2 points clear against all odds.

Poor performances for Liverpool and Arsenal might have seen their hopes of a title scuppered with the pair now relying on a City error if they are to have any chance of stopping the title defence.

All three sides are still in contention for European glory as well with Arsenal and City hopeful of victory against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid this week. On the other hand, Liverpool were serious favourites for the Europa League until they suffered a heavy defeat to Atalanta in the first leg of their quarter final. They have a mountain to climb in the second leg if they are to build on their League Cup victory.

City remain the only side out of the top 3 in the FA Cup. Guardiola’s side will face Chelsea in the semi-final of the competition. Can they do the unthinkable and win the treble for the second consecutive year?

What about the battle for Europe? Aston Villa’s win didn’t just have an impact on the title race, it also strengthened their hopes of a Champions League place at the end of the season. After Spurs were beaten 4-0 away at Newcastle, Unai Emery’s men capitalised at the Emirates to go three points clear of the North London side in 5th place, albeit having played a game more.

Also, still in the Europa Conference League, Villa have the chance of silverware this campaign as well as the opportunity to take on Europe’s elite for the first time since 1983.

A tough run-in for Spurs may dent their hopes of Champions League football, however, European football will almost definitely be on the cards for Postecoglou’s men. Newcastle, Manchester United and Chelsea will also join them in the hunt for European football next season after below-par terms for each side.

West Ham also find themselves in with a sniff of European football next year, however, some poor performances of late put their chances at risk. They are still in the Europa League but face a 2-0 deficit going into the quarter final second leg against unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen who are on an astonishing run.

At the other end of the table, there’s a relegation scrap. With Sheffield United all but relegated and Burnley heading in the same direction, who will be joining them in the Championship next season?

Luton currently hold the final relegation spot. It’s the Hatters’ first time in the Premier League since its inception and everyone had written them off before the season had begun.

However, Rob Edwards has done a magnificent job with the resources he has got and they find themselves 1 point from safety. It was just 10 years ago Luton found themselves in what is today known as the National League. A brilliant rise through the divisions, can they retain their Premier League status?

It won’t be easy but they have their eyes set on a Nottingham Forest and Everton side who have been struck by points deductions. Tough campaigns for both teams see the pair balanced precariously above the drop zone. After Everton’s 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea on Monday night, and one win in 2024, it’s hard to see where Sean Dyche’s team will regain their fighting spirit again.

Forest, on the other hand, face 2 out of the bottom 5 teams in their remaining fixtures. Defeat for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men was a kick in teeth but a much needed 3 points for Everton, especially with Liverpool and Arsenal still to play for the Toffees. Everton do have a game in hand, which could prove vital come the end of the campaign.

So how do you think the season will finish? Who will win the league? Who will go down? Who will secure European football? With everything to play for, find out who will finish where with Engage Hospitality from the best seats in the house. 

Euro 2024: Will Southgate finally deliver?

With the Premier League on pause, the International break gives us the chance to take a look ahead at this year’s major tournament: Euro 2024. Gareth Southgate and his England side will once again look to make a major international tournament count after coming so close to a trophy in recent years. After agony in 2021 when beaten by Italy in the final on home turf and a narrow defeat to France in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final, will it finally be England’s year?

The appointment of Gareth Southgate brought with it a great amount of uncertainty in 2016. Limited managerial experience and disappointment from England in previous tournaments, many greeted his arrival with a lack of optimism. However, consistently good results in major tournaments have seen hope revitalised in England fans across the country. Euro 2024 will be no different, with the influx of young talent as well as the experience of the more senior players, England may have the perfect ingredients to end that 58-year wait for a trophy.

With that said, in what many describe as England’s ‘Golden Generation’, they still don’t have any titles to show for it bringing much criticism to Southgate’s ‘boring’ tactics. Add to that a scrappy defeat to Brazil on Saturday courtesy of a late Endrick goal and a last gasp draw to Belgium on Tuesday, the critics have only become worse.

The Squad

So, what is it exactly that makes everyone excited about this England squad? For the fixtures against Brazil and Belgium a stellar 25-man team was picked with the introduction of Anthony Gordon, Jarrad Branthwaite, Kobbie Manoo, James Trafford and Ezri Konsa all in the senior squad for the first time.

The squad also starred Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Declan Rice who have all impressed for their respective club’s this season, particularly Bellingham. The former Birmingham City and Borussia Dortmund has set the footballing world alight this campaign starring for Real Madrid in the battle for the LaLiga title with many terming him as the ‘best footballer in the world’ at the moment. The youngster will certainly be a key part of Southgate’s midfield in Germany this summer, especially after his important last-minute equaliser on Tuesday evening.

Although the strength of the England squad has been highlighted, they are a country plagued with injuries including Kane, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Bukayo Saka. It gives Southgate a huge selection dilemma but also the opportunity to experiment as he awarded Mainoo and Konsa their first international starts, as well as Ivan Toney, in his aim to act as Harry Kane’s understudy, against Belgium.

Questions on the manager’s selection of certain individuals have been asked with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire continually picked despite poor form at club level. With that said, the experience of the long-time England servants will definitely have an impact on the younger players in the group. If their quality is not still there, perhaps, they can inspire the newer faces in the camp.

Will England do it?

What are England’s chances of winning the tournament? They are the favourites for the trophy, but they will be met by some fierce competition.

France will once again be the ones to watch out for as Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal amongst other European giants will be aiming for glory. Underdogs for the trophy may include Denmark and Croatia while Georgia are involved in their first major finals. Whatever happens, winning this trophy will not be a walk in the park for Southgate’s side.

Will Southgate silence his critics and finally bring home the trophy that England fans have been longing for? Germany 2024 has all the hallmarks of another special tournament, and you won’t want to miss it, especially if England perform. Watch international football and England’s Euro 2024 warmup game against Iceland with Engage Hospitality from the best seats in the house.

Premier League 2023/24: 10 matches to go

We’re approaching the crunch stage of the Premier League season. With only 10 games to go for most sides, the final international break of the season gives us a chance to take a look at how the league table is shaping up.

A title, a relegation battle and the European spots are all still to play for, there are very few teams who are not wound up in an exciting battle. With fatigue, nerves and pressure all starting to set in, the end of the Premier League 2023/24 season promises to be a thrilling encounter.

The Title Race

Starting with the title race. Three teams, ten games, one trophy. At this stage it’s far too close to call. Arsenal lead the way only on goal difference to Liverpool with both sides on 64 points while Manchester City breathe down their necks on 63 points.

Arsenal have arguably the hardest remaining fixtures as they face four of the current Premier League top 6 including what could be a title-defining moment as they travel to the Etihad on the 31st March.

With no title challengers still to play and only three of the top six do Liverpool have the better of the run-ins? With Jurgen Klopp’s final games with Liverpool approaching, the German will be determined he can deliver one last league title to Anfield before his summer departure. However, Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola will be just as eager to rain on his parade as Arteta chases Arsenal’s first league win since 2004 while Guardiola will want to repeat City’s incredible treble winning season last year.

This title race has all the chance to go right down to the wire with all three teams set to push each other until the final game. Who’s your money on?

Battle for Europe

In terms of the battle for European spots, all the places are up for grabs. Spurs and Aston Villa will battle it out for the final guaranteed Champions League place. An excellent season for Unai Emery’s men sees them in an unexpected battle for Europe’s most prestigious competition as Ange Postecoglou looks to have Spurs returning to European competition after a one year absence.

Champions League will be a tough ask for Erik Tenn Haag’s Manchester United side, however, they are still in with a shout trailing Aston Villa by 9 points with a game in hand.

In any case, they lead the way for the race to the Europa League while West Ham currently sit in the European Conference League spot (7th place), the competition they famously won last year. They will be keen to stay in Europe this season and whether that’s by winning the Europa League or through the automatic league spots, David Moyes’ men will want to do both.

With that said, neither is guaranteed for the Irons as four teams stalk the only Conference League place. Brighton, Wolves, Newcastle and Chelsea are all within reach of the European spot.

A strong mid-season run from Wolves has seen Gary O’Neil’s debut campaign become a successful one after a rocky start. A brilliant feat for the West Midlands side would be to qualify for Europe once again after being relegation candidates back in August.

Relegation Fight

Speaking of relegation candidates, the race to avoid the drop is hotting up with injuries, point deductions and shock results, it’s tough to call. Sheffield United look to be cut adrift from the rest of the pack as a poor campaign sees Chris Wilder’s side 8 points from safety with 10 games to play; survival looks an impossible task. Burnley aren’t much better off as they stare a return to the Championship in the face 5 points from safety.

After the announcement of Nottingham Forest’s points deduction at the weekend, they drop into the bottom three as Luton Town, favourites to go down, find themselves hanging on by the skin of their teeth. What a job Rob Edwards has done for the Hatters; it will be an incredible achievement if he can keep them up.

Elsewhere, Everton are four points clear of the dropzone after a 6 point deduction earlier in the season while Thomas Frank’s Brentford are one point better off after a particularly disappointing campaign for the London club.

What about the race for the Golden Boot? Erling Haaland leads the way once again with 18 goals, however, he has Ollie Watkins, Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke for company with the trio of goalscorers threatening to steal the trophy from the Norwegian’s grasp.

So, the 2023/24 Premier League season is into the home straight. In one of the most exciting title races and relegation battles in recent years, it’s anyone’s call what will happen. Can Sheffield United do the impossible? Will Arsenal win their first league title in 20 years?

What do you think will happen? Watch the Premier League from the best seats in the house with Engage Hospitality.

FA Cup: Can Man United end Liverpool’s quadruple dreams?

FA Cup fever is gripping the nation and following the quarter-final draw, we really are into the business end of the competition. Believe it or not, this season’s edition of the historic cup got underway way back in August last year as clubs up and down the country entered the preliminary qualifying rounds.

Now, seven months later, we’re down to our final eight teams, who will all fancy their chances of climbing those iconic steps at Wembley in May’s FA Cup final. Manchester City are among those that remain and the reigning champions will be keen to defend their crown.

But fierce rivals Manchester United, as well as long-term challengers Liverpool, are looking to stop them. Ahead of next weekend’s quarter-finals, we’ve taken a closer look at each of the teams left in the competition.

Manchester United v Liverpool

The tie of the round sees old rivals United and Liverpool come face-to-face in a mouth-watering clash at Old Trafford. Having already secured the Carabao Cup, Liverpool are targeting an historic (and ambitious!) quadruple as they prepare for life without Jurgen Klopp.

The pair have met four times in the FA Cup this century, winning twice each, with a spectacular Bruno Fernandes free-kick securing a 3-2 win for United in their last meeting three years ago.

For Liverpool, the key talking point of late has been their kids, with a young side managing to outfight Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final. Three days later, they rallied again to beat Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round.

Lewis Koumas and Jayden Danns, both sons of former Premier League players, scored in a 3-0 win at Anfield as they spearheaded a hugely inexperienced team. And while they’ve performed well for Klopp, he’ll be keen for the likes of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and co. to be fit and firing when they head to Old Trafford.

With a Champions League spot next season slowly looking less likely to materialise for United, an FA Cup win may be their final chance to salvage some glory this year. They edged past Nottingham Forest last time out as Casemiro’s late winner saved them from extra time. But they’ll need to step their performance up against a Liverpool side more determined than ever to fight for their manager.

Manchester City v Newcastle United

Man City will entertain Newcastle in the next round and the pair’s fifth-round matches couldn’t have been more different. For City, Erling Haaland returned to form in style, smashing in five goals before the hour mark to stun Luton in a 6-2 win.

However, Newcastle stuttered at Championship outfit Blackburn and struggled to break through their resilience. They ultimately won on penalties but their tired performance was indicative of their difficulties this year.

But cup ties aren’t won on form and City will need to be at their best as they look to defend their title following last season’s treble win. Newcastle missed out on their first piece of silverware of their new regime as they lost last season’s Carabao Cup final.

After securing Champions League football last term, they’ve failed to match those heights this year and have looked well off the pace in recent months. Eddie Howe is desperate for some glory to reignite the club and he’ll have his fingers and toes crossed that the FA Cup could be just that.

Liverpool face Chelsea at Wembley Stadium during the 2022 FA Cup Final

FA Cup Hospitality

Chelsea v Leicester

These two sides last met in the FA Cup in the 2021 final, where a Youri Tielemans strike secured the trophy for Leicester. Since then, Chelsea have undergone a massive overhaul both on and off the pitch, while the Foxes have suffered relegation to the Championship.

Chelsea are hoping to bounce back from their Carabao Cup final defeat as Mauricio Pochettino looks to end his trophy hoodoo, having lost all three of his major finals as a manager in England.

Meanwhile, Leicester are flying at the top of the Championship and look in good shape to return to the top flight at the first time of asking. A dream first season for manager Enzo Maresca would be topped with an FA Cup win, although no second division team has won the competition since West Ham beat Arsenal in 1980.

In the last round, Chelsea survived a potential banana skin as Conor Gallagher came off the bench to secure a last-gasp 3-2 win over high-flying Leeds. Leicester are looking to secure another Premier League scalp after knocking out Bournemouth last time out.

Wolves v Coventry

A Midlands derby completes the quarter-final line-up, with Coventry looking to spring an upset against Premier League counterparts Wolves. They’ve enjoyed a strong cup run so far, smashing Maidstone 5-0 last time out to add to wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford.

In fact, the Sky Blues have scored 16 goals in the competition so far and Wolves will be wary of taking them lightly. They missed out to Luton in last year’s play-off final but are in the hunt for another top-six finish this season.

Wolves are enjoying a renaissance under Gary O’Neill following a slow start to the season. They edged past Brighton in round five thanks to a goal from Mario Lemina and they’ve also seen off Brentford and fierce rivals West Brom in a tricky run to the quarter-finals.

League Cup Final Preview: Chelsea and Liverpool Meet Again

Just like that, the first opportunity for domestic silverware is almost upon us. That’s right the Carabao League Cup Final will be played at Wembley on Sunday in a 3pm kick-off. Chelsea will take on Liverpool under the Wembley Arch with both clubs gunning for a much-needed trophy, for very different reasons.

A classic matchup that is sure to have all the hallmarks of a brilliant final. Not only that, it is a repeat of the 2022 final, one that Chelsea won on penalties breaking Liverpudlian hearts. The Red’s will be mindful of the outcome 2 years ago and they will be keen to claim revenge on a Chelsea side that haven’t been quite up to scratch as of late.

Starting with Liverpool, a high flying first half of the campaign sees them in a title race, and arguably favourites too. Also, still in the FA Cup and Europa League there is plenty of opportunity for them to pick up numerous pieces of silverware throughout the season. Their good form is perhaps not the main talking point of their season so far after manager, Jurgen Klopp, announced he would be leaving the club in the summer.

Klopp has been in charge of the Reds since 2015 and is regarded by many as one of the best managers in world football. With a Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup amongst other trophies, it’s hard to argue that his reign at Liverpool hasn’t been spectacular and he will be a huge loss. Liverpool will be hoping to win as many trophies as possible throughout the remaining season to honour their head coach before his departure.

Chelsea on the other hand have been far from their best. They need something to kick start their season and a League Cup trophy could be just what they require. After spending in excess of £1 billion over the last two seasons, but only a mid-table finish last year and the possibility of another one this season to show for it, nothing seems to be quite working for the London club.

Fans hoped it would be different this season with the introduction of new manager Mauricio Pochettino and a complete overhaul of new players after last season, however, they still find themselves middle of the pack. Can they turn their season around with a piece of silverware?

So who should we look out for? In the league, Liverpool’s superstar Mohamed Salah has been in fine form once again with 15 goals and 9 assists in 21 matches. He is certain to be a nightmare for the Chelsea defence. As will Darwin Núnez who is coming into his own in a Liverpool shirt. The Uruguayan has 9 goals and 7 assists this season in the Premier League and while many claim he is too wasteful in front of goal, there is no denying that he is on course for a great tally this year.

Chelsea on the other hand boast a number of players in fine form themselves including England man Connor Gallagher. With three goals in his last three games, the midfielder is on fire for the Blues and he will be hoping to carry this goalscoring form into Wembley, alongside other Chelsea youngster Cole Palmer.

Palmer has proved vital to Chelsea this season contributing a number of goals and assists to the side after his signing from Manchester City. He is another man who the Liverpool defence will have to contain on Sunday.

Defensively, Liverpool are also the stronger of the two sides having only conceded 24 in the league this season compared to Chelsea’s 41 goals against. Liverpool’s good defensive record is a huge contributor to their position in the table and their cup form, not to mention their array of attacking options.

Although Chelsea appear to have had a weaker back line, they haven’t been short on goals with 42, the 8th most in the league and the best record in the bottom half of the table. If they were to tighten up at the back, where could they have found themselves this season?  

Another convincing win for Liverpool on Saturday away at Brentford will have Klopp and his side’s confidence soaring high. With that said, a good Chelsea performance away at Manchester City saw last year’s treble winners made to work hard to snatch a point. The performance will instil belief in the Blues that they can cause an upset this weekend.

One thing that can’t be denied is that this fixture always promises to be a classic. This weekend will be no different as two giants of English football will clash for the first piece of silverware this season. So who will it be, Chelsea or Liverpool?

England’s Possible Route to the Euro 2024 Final

For English football fans, not only was the clock striking midnight on the 31st December to mark the start of a New Year, it was the beginning of a year with a major international tournament. The European Championship will once again return in Summer 2024, in a tournament that will attract the best talent across Europe. The tournament will take place in Germany this year and after such agony in 2021’s final (Euro 2020), England fans will be keen to see their team redeem themselves.

Heartbreak in 2021 saw England’s hands slip from the trophy after defeat in the final to Italy. Having been 1-0 up courtesy of an early Luke Shaw goal, Leonardo Bonucci levelled things up in the 67th minute.

The teams were inseparable after extra time and it was England’s archenemy, penalties, that saw them prolong their wait for another trophy. However, 3 years on from the disappointment in Euro 2020, can Gareth Southgate spur his men on to triumph in 2024? If so, what might their route to victory be if they are to go all the way? We take a look at all of England’s possible routes to the final.

When do England begin their tournament?

England will commence their Euro campaign when they face Serbia on the 16th June. Other teams in their group include Denmark and Slovenia who they will play on the 20th and 25th June. A relatively difficult group with Denmark being the most difficult challenge.

England were victorious over the Danes in the 2021 semi-final and will hope to repeat the outcome albeit at an earlier stage in the tournament. Although it is a difficult group, without any disasters, England should progress comfortably to the knockout stages.

What if England were to go through as group winners?

If England were to win their group they would go on to play the 3rd placed team in group D/E/F and if all results go according to the world rankings they would play Austria, Romania or Turkey.

Based on the rankings the Three Lions would then go on to play Italy, then France in the semi-finals and then Spain for a chance at European Glory.

Obviously, the likelihood of England following this route is slim as it is all based on ranking, however, if it were to happen England would have to beat two sides who have both caused heartache in the last 4 years; France having knocked them out of the 2022 World Cup after a Harry Kane penalty miss. How will your nerves be over the course of these two games if they were to pan out like this?

Spain, who were crowned 2023 Nations League Champions, are another team to be reckoned with. If England were to go through as group winners, they’d arguably have the most difficult route to the final.

What if they were to go through as group runners-up?

If England finish second in group C and all of the other results go with the world rankings England would face Germany in the round of 16, then Spain, the Netherlands in the semis and then battle it out with the French in the final. Another road to the final that will certainly not be easy but perhaps a one that England will feel they can be successful in.

After victory over the Germans in the round of 16 at Wembley in Euro 2020 they will be confident that they can repeat this feat, however, Thomas Muller’s infamous 1-on-1 miss in that game warns us just how dangerous they can be.

England have only faced the Netherlands three times in the last ten years, with the most recent game all the way back in 2019. It resulted in a 3-1 defeat as England crashed out in the semi-finals of the Nations League. England could face them in another semi-final with arguably a lot more at stake. Will they be able to get the better of them this time around?

What about if England were one of the four best third-placed sides?

If England finished third in their group, it wouldn’t necessarily mean they were going home. The four best third-placed teams in each group will progress to the round of 16 based on their points in the group stage. If England were to do this they would face the winner of Group F or Group E, groups that include Belgium and Portugal.

Perhaps if they were to finish third, they would arguably receive an easier round of 16 draw. With that said, Southgate will be keen for his team to finish as group winners convincingly and send a statement out to the other countries as well as his critics.

So can England finally get their hands on the major trophy they have been longing for for almost 60 years? What route do you think they will take to the final and which would you prefer?

In possibly England’s biggest opportunity for a major tournament yet, the whole nation will be excited to see how they get on. Fancy watching England in their Euro 2024 preparations? Watch the Three Lions take on Brazil and Belgium from the best seats in the house with Engage Hospitality.

Which players will be picked for Southgate’s side?

Gareth Southgate is set to unveil his preliminary squad selection immediately after the end of the Premier League season, with only a handful of weekends remaining in the club football calendar. As players battle for their spots, the competition for the 26 available places is intense.

Certain seasoned players, such as England’s No.1 Jordan Pickford and Manchester City’s defensive duo John Stones and Kyle Walker, are almost guaranteed their spots. Three Lions captain Harry Kane aims to make a comeback after missing the March internationals due to injury.

Phil Foden’s stellar performances for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have likely ensured his inclusion in the England squad this summer. However, he faces stiff competition from world class attacking stars like Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, among others.

Rice, Chilwell, Ramsdale, Maguire, Palmer, Rashford and Toney are just a few other names predicted to secure their spot and have the opportunity to achieve European glory this year.

We are unlikely to see Reece James, who is regarded as one of the world’s best full-backs make an appearance, due to lack of consistent fitness. Raheem Sterling, who was one of England’s star players at Euro 2020, has not been involved in recent camps and is not a part of Southgate’s preferred formation. Although his recent form has shown signs of promise, he is unlikely to feature now.

Southgate is scheduled to reveal his training squad on Tuesday, May 21st.

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