Premier League and FA Cup Predictions – Arsenal to make the final, Liverpool to miss out and Chelsea and United to share the points

By Mark Young.

This Saturday a Premier League classic goes head-to-head with an FA Cup semi-final when Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge at the same time as Arsenal face Reading. Meanwhile, beleaguered Manchester City host West Ham and Everton take on Burnley in this weekend’s other top contests.

Daily Mail football writer Adam Crafton takes on Mark this week . . .

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Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

Chelsea have been labouring to victories over the last few weeks as they are over-reliant on Eden Hazard and it is down to the frontrunner for the PFA Player of the Year to turn it on against a rejuvenated Manchester United on Saturday evening.

United have impressed after recording six wins in a row, with renaissance men Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini behind this attractive United side. But Juan Mata has also hit some fantastic form and will be looking to show Chelsea what they are missing.

With Jose Mourinho’s men tiring and United in form, I reckon a draw could well be on the cards but both clubs will be looking at this fixture as an opportunity to take three points.

Adam Crafton’s Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

Really looking forward to this one. Louis van Gaal has finally uncovered a winning formula with this 4-1-4-1 system but I imagine Mourinho will have plans to disrupt United’s rhythm. Perhaps Kurt Zouma in central midfield to combat Fellaini? The question will then be whether Van Gaal has his own Plan B to counter Mourinho’s set-up.

Everton 0-0 Burnley

Everton host another team struggling for goals, relegation-threatened Burnley, at Goodison Park on Saturday. The Clarets are hoping to bounce back from their narrow defeat by Arsenal and to boost their relegation fight.

The Toffees could be without hitman Romelu Lukaku this weekend – which is terrible news when you can’t rely on anyone else in the team to find the net.

Roberto Martinez’s side have very little to play for between now and the end of the season, so this is an opportunity for Sean Dyche’s hard-working men to come away from Merseyside with a well-earned point.

Adam Crafton’s Prediction

Everton 2-1 Burnley

Everton have stumbled upon a decent run of form with three wins and draw in their recent games, and I fear they may be a little too strong for Burnley. Sean Dyche’s side’s performances have often been far better than their results this season but I suspect the story of their season will repeat itself once more here.

Manchester City 2-0 West Ham

Manchester City have struggled for consistency in their performances over the last few months, but they could walk away from Sunday’s contest with West Ham with a comfortable victory.

Sergio Aguero netted a double at Old Trafford last Sunday but it was on the end of a 4-2 defeat and he will be hoping that the defensive side of his team will keep up their end of the deal this time out.

West Ham have been described as close to being on their holidays and have nothing to lose, so I believe they’ll put up a slight fight, but will ultimately lose out to Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

Adam Crafton’s Prediction

Manchester City 2-0 West Ham

Manchester City haven’t lost three games in a row in the Premier League since November 2008 – when Mark Hughes was manager and City had Darius Vassell, Benjani, Gelson Fernandes . . . and Robinho in their line-up. West Ham seem to have their flip-flops on already and Pellegrini will be relieved to have seen this fixture lying in wait.

Reading 0-4 Arsenal

Resurgent Arsenal face Championship side Reading in the first FA Cup semi at the weekend. Steve Clarke’s men lost at home to high-flying Bournemouth on Tuesday and have put everything on cup success, with little left to play for in the league.

They may already be looking to next season, but will still believe they are capable of causing an upset against Gunners, who so nearly lost to Wigan in last season’s semi-final.

However, Arsenal are a better side this season and full of confidence having now won eight in a row. Reading look to be lambs to the slaughter as Arsene Wenger’s men look to retain their FA Cup crown.

Adam Crafton’s Prediction

Reading 1-3 Arsenal

Fancy Reading to nick the first goal but Arsenal are on a brilliant run in the league. They have a system that now works and they should have far too much quality for Reading.

Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool

The second FA Cup semi sees Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa face Liverpool on Sunday. It won’t be an easy game for the Reds as last week’s matchwinner Christian Benteke will be looking to exploit any weaknesses in the Anfield club’s defence.

Liverpool stopped their recent downturn in form with a win over Newcastle on Monday night but there are lingering concerns over Daniel Sturridge’s fitness and Raheem Sterling’s front page headlines.

Brendan Rodgers’ men are one step away from being able to celebrate legend Steven Gerrard’s birthday in what would be his last game on the FA Cup final day, but I believe Villa can spoil the party.

Adam Crafton’s Prediction

Aston Villa 2-2 Liverpool (Liverpool to win on pens)

Is it fated that Gerrard lifts the FA Cup at Wembley on his birthday in his final Liverpool game? It’s starting to feel that way, even if there must be doubts over whether he will even start against Aston Villa. Rodgers needs a trophy to lift spirits at Anfield but Villa are resurgent, playing with renewed vigour and energy, and I fancy that they will push Liverpool all the way to a shootout.

Read more by Mark Young here!

Follow @markyoung1988

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