Chelsea to meet Liverpool in FA Cup semis

March 24, 2006

Chelsea and Liverpool have been pitted together for the fifth time this season, in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The sides have already met twice in the Barclays Premiership and twice more in the Champions League, with Chelsea winning the league encounters and the European meetings both draws.

In the other semi-final Middlesbrough or Charlton will face West Ham. The ties will be played on April 22 and 23.

Chelsea and Liverpool also came face to face five times last season, meeting twice in the league, in a two-legged Champions League semi-final and the Carling Cup final.

Again the Blues triumphed in both league meetings and the final at the Millennium Stadium, while Liverpool won the Champions League semi-final over two legs en route to winning the competition.

Middlesbrough and Charlton will play again on April 12 after a goalless draw at The Valley last night, while West Ham booked their place in the last four with a 2-1 win away to Manchester City.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez is expecting a 'difficult tie' against the Premiership champions.

He told the club's website: 'It will be a difficult game for both teams.

'We know each other so well and when you play a cup tie you know it will always be a difficult tie. We shall see what happens.

'They are a very good side but so are we. We have a lot of confidence and we know it's a game we can win.'

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley believes Liverpool being drawn against Chelsea gives the other teams remaining cause for optimism.

Curbishley said: 'We, Middlesbrough and West Ham were obviously hoping to avoid the big two so I think there is a great opportunity for a smaller club to make the final.

'West Ham are already there and we're not yet, but as the draw goes it is the best one possible and there is a massive opportunity there for us now.

'We never look too far ahead but with Liverpool and Chelsea looking sure to qualify for the Champions League it looks like a European place will be there (for the finalists).

'It can be said that West Ham are one game away and ourselves and Middlesbrough two games away, but you have to take it a step at a time and we're just pleased to have avoided the big two.'