We are down to the last 16 teams in the FA Cup, and trip to Wembley is within the grasp of some unlikely contenders! Here is a preview of the weekend’s action.
Leicester City vs Sheffield United
Both of these sides have had a slump in form in the league of late, but their cup runs could not have been more different.
In round 4, Leicester disposed of Peterborough 5-1, while Sheffield United limped through both Round 3 and 4 with 1-0 wins.
Sheffield United will still hold aspirations of getting back to the Premier League, and I can imagine they won’t be too fussed about going out of the cup at this stage.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Sheffield United
Chelsea vs Hull City
Chelsea have flattered to deceive recently, and with press speculation about unrest backstage, you can see it is having an impact on performances on the pitch.
After a nervous (and controversial) win on penalties against Norwich in Round 3, Chelsea made no mistake in Round 4 when they smashed Newcastle 3-0. Will Hull be a lower tier struggle for Chelsea, the way Norwich were, or swept aside like Newcastle?
Hull have had previous success in the FA Cup, having reached the final 2014, but their struggles in the league this season may mean they put their Cup dream to rest for now.
Precition: Chelsea 3-1 Hull City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Swansea City
The narrative ramps up in this one as Carlos Carvalhal returns to the club he took to the play-offs two seasons in a row. Carlos now takes to the away dug out as Swansea chief, having turned around their fortunes since his arrival.
Many had written off Swansea’s survival hopes, but after a few good results, they have bounced back to mid-table. On the contrary, Wednesday need to find a bit of form, and fast, if they want to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.
Much should be said for Swansea’s replay against Notts County though, where they battered them 8-1 live in TV. Sheffield Wednesday are likely to put up a far better fight than that, mind.
Perhaps neither teams focus is entirely on a cup run, but someone has to win the game, right?
Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Swansea City
Brighton and Hove Albion vs Coventry City
Coventry City are the lowest ranked team in the competition, and with the giant killing of Stoke in round 3, have proved they can mix with the big boys. Coventry have history in the FA Cup, and despite their demise to League Two in recent years, they are still a massive club.
Brighton’s form is patchy at best, and while not totally safe from relegation from the Premier League, their focus may be elsewhere.
If there is going to be a shock this weekend, I think this may be the game.
Prediction: Brighton 0-1 Coventry
Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United
Huddersfield’s 4-1 win against Bournemouth last weekend looks more like a blip than turning a corner, and if form is to be believed, they will be easily swept aside here.
Manchester United have a midweek trip to Sevilla to prepare for, and may rest some players.
Both teams enjoyed high scoring wins in the last round, against Birmingham and Yeovil respectively, so we can expect goals in this one!
Prediction: Huddersfield 1-3 Manchester United
West Bromich Albion vs Southampton
If the Prophets of Doom are to be believed, West Brom’s eight year stay in the Premier League is very nearly at an end, and those same errie shadows of doom are circling Southampton as well.
Both of these sides have had poor seasons, and a win in this game would probably signal a fair amount of disappointment that it wouldn’t add three points to their current league tally.
Neither team appear to like scoring goals, nor winning games, so a low scoring draw is the most likely outcome.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Southampton
Rochdale vs Tottenham Hotspur
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard that Spurs added to their trophy cabinet in midweek with the “Drawing at Juventus Cup”. This takes pride of place between the “Finishing above Arsenal Shield” and the “We Put the Pressure on Trophy”.
In all seriousness, Spurs’ comeback against Juventus in midweek was impressive, and not predicted, and scoring two goals against a side who had only conceded one in the last sixteen games takes some doing.
While Rochdale should be respected for reaching this stage (and sniping Millwall out of the competition on the way, ha!), they will likely not have enough to match Spurs.
That said, their infamous awful pitch could be the leveller here, and Spurs may struggle to play their slick, free-flowing game on what is akin to a Sunday League Rugby pitch. With weary legs from their Juve trip, and having only managed a draw vs Newport in the last round, could this be destined for a draw too?
Prediction: Rochdale 2-2 Spurs
Wigan vs Manchester City
Cast your minds back to 2013, where already relegated Wigan are up against New Money Manchester in the FA Cup final. Not a single person placed a bet on Wigan that day, when in the last minute, Ben Watson puts his ginger peanut on an inswinging corner, and history is made.
There will be no repeat performance this time around. While Wigan are storming their way back to the Championship, and having two Premier League FA Cup scalps already this season in Bournemouth and West Ham, Man City will be a different proposition.
City defeated Basel at a canter in mid-week, and may decide to rest players (as if that game wasn’t a rest in itself). And should they decide to play their second string and youth’s, Wigan will still be playing a high class opposition.
Man City are still on for a historical quadruple, and I can’t see Wigan being the spanner in those works.
Prediction: Wigan 0-4 Man City
All the prediction’s made in this piece are the opinion of the author, Andy Dutton, and have been made with some bias and a lack of any real football knowledge, dressed as analytics!
If you feel you can do better, jump onto our weekly predictor, and see if you can score more points than Andy!
And if you do, maybe he’ll let you write the article for the Quarter-Finals in March!