In this week's Sport Spotlight, IBTimes UK sport editor Nick Howson looks at Aston Villa's surprise win over Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final, Arsenal's shaky victory against Reading in the other cup semi and Chelsea's continuing march towards a fifth league title after defeating Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Cup exit puts Rodgers under pressure
Aston Villa came from behind to beat a lacklustre Liverpool side 2-1 at Wembley to progress to their first FA Cup final since 2000. It's a terrific turnaround in fortunes for the Villains, who at the start of the year faced relegation. Since the appointment of Tim Sherwood however, the Birmingham-based team now look set to escape the drop and could even end up with a first piece of silverware since the 1996 League Cup.
But it was a dismal day for Liverpool. Not only does the result mean that the departing Steven Gerrard will miss out on the fairy tale send-off of lifting the FA Cup one last time on his 35th birthday, but it means that Brendan Rodgers becomes the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s not to win a trophy in the first three seasons in charge.
Arsenal survive shaky performance to progress
The 'chokers' tag that is being applied to Liverpool in big matches was almost put to Arsenal as well, after the Gunners delivered a nervy performance in their 2-1 win over Reading in the other FA Cup semi-final. Despite recent form, Arsenal looked extremely brittle at the back against the Championship side and have Adam Federici's blunder in goal to thank for their progress to the final. Manager Arsene Wenger will know that a better performance will be needed if his side are to beat Aston Villa and win a second successive FA Cup title.
Chelsea's title march goes on
Chelsea's quest for a fifth league title appears all wrapped up after they vanquished Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. What was most interesting was not so much the result as the comments made by the two managers afterwards. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal insisted his side had given their best performance this season, while Blues boss Jose Mourinho confidently asserted that his side had the Red Devils in their pockets throughout the match. The two men are both known for their mind games and this appears only the beginning of a growing rivalry that could define the title race next season.