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FA Cup Preview: Emotions run high as powers meet at Wembley

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It’s a weekend for the big boys, with no underdogs in sight as the FA Cup hits the semifinals Saturday and Sunday.

It’s a London-heavy quartet, with Spurs aiming to knockoff Chelsea at 12:15 p.m. ET Saturday and Arsenal hoping to grab some glory with a defeat of Man City at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The winners meet at Wembley Stadium on May 27 for an opportunity to lift silverware.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

Any anxiety regarding whether the FA Cup should mean as much as in years past goes out the window when there are four league monsters remaining in the competition, and no one will be dodging bragging rights should their side emerge victorious.

The Saturday semifinal has Antonio Conte wary of Spurs’ power, with the Chelsea boss bristling at the thought of Tottenham being an underdog in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

And there will be plenty of emotion in the air at a building Spurs have called home several times this season, as the club continues to mourn coach Ugo Ehiogu. Both sides will wear black arm bands and the match will be marked with a minute of applause for the well-loved U-23 coach and ex-Scotland international.

Sunday brings us City and Arsenal. Pep Guardiola admits that lifting a trophy in his first season would mean a great deal in the process of further establishing Manchester City as a European power.

And Wenger isn’t blowing off the opportunity do something big in a poor season by Arsenal’s standards:

“It’s always something special. I remember my first [semi-final], when we played at Villa Park against Wolves. That’s the day when I realized how big the club is, how much it means to our supporters because suddenly the stadium is divided in two for an away game and your fans are all there.
“So it’s a special experience and we are focused and highly motivated. Maybe not at the maximum of our confidence because we had recently some disappointing results, but that is a good opportunity to show we are ready for a fight and how much we want to go to the final.”
Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2013 and 2014, while Chelsea won in 2012 and Man City 2011. Spurs have to go back to 1991 for their last final appearance and win.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.