The end of the season is fast approaching and we have some big league games over the weekend and the small matter of the FA Cup semi-finals. It’s no surprise to see Manchester City and Chelsea reach this stage, but I doubt many had Wigan and Millwall being one game away from the final.

In the Premier League I’m really looking forward to the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday afternoon. Paulo Di Canio’s side gave a good account of themselves at Stamford Bridge, but this is the real test. Sunderland are still right in the midst of the relegation battle and they don’t have the best record in this fixture.

It’s been six games since the Black Cats beat their bitter rivals and Newcastle have found some form in the league of late. Alan Pardew’s side needed a 90th minute winner against Fulham from man-of-the-moment Papiss Cisse to lift themselves five points clear of the bottom three.

Even with the managerial change the same scoring problems remain for Sunderland. The Magpies are far superior in that area and that’s why they will win this one.

Millwall and Wigan get the FA Cup semi-finals started on Saturday. I had a coffee with Roberto Martinez a few weeks back and I asked him about this cup game. He insisted that the side were concentrating on survival first and not letting themselves get distracted with the trip to Wembley. Since then the Latics have won two and drawn once to find form at the right time, so it seems to be working.

There’s been plenty of coverage on Wigan’s inability to sell their Wembley allocation to suggest that Millwall will be the dominant ones in the stands. That’s as far as it will go though as I think Wigan will be too strong. They pass and move the ball excellently and in Arouna Kone they have a world class finisher.

Wigan are worth backing to win this by a couple of goals.

On Sunday we have the standout tie between Chelsea and Manchester City. Rafa Benitez has had to deal with an awful lot of abuse from the Chelsea supporters and he’d love to sign off with the FA Cup trophy. Chelsea have a superb record in the competition and it seems Rafa has a date with destiny.

The Blues were excellent in both ties with Man United and fully deserve to be here. I was at Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on Monday and was impressed with Roberto Mancini’s side even though the win meant little.

David Silva limped off that night and he’ll be a massive loss if he doesn’t recover in time. Without the Spaniard the 2011 champions lack creativity and that’s magnified with how narrow City play. Chelsea are the defending champions and I expect them to progress to the final once more.

Betting on BETDAQ – Alan’s Punts:
Newcastle v Sunderland – Back Newcastle at 1.97
Millwall v Wigan – Back Wigan with –1 Asian handicap at 2.56
Chelsea v Man City – Back Chelsea at 3.35

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