FA Cup Weekend Preview – Quarterfinals Stage
Saturday 11 March 2017
12:15 – Middlesbrough v Manchester City
Manchester City travel to the Riverside Stadium in the early kick off, to face a Boro side who really will have their sights set on staying in the Premier League, more than anything else. However, the chance to claim a scalp the size of Manchester City and have a trip to Wembley, could give the northeast club a huge lift.
The two sides have recent history together in the FA Cup, having last met back in January 2015 at the Etihad Stadium. Boro, who were still in the Championship at the time, won two nil, thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike. Prior to that, they met at the Riverside in 2010, with City winning one nil, thanks to a Benjani (remember him?) strike.
City will be wary of avoiding embarrassment, but will also have one eye on the return leg of their Champions League tie against AS Monaco. This is a tough game to call. Both teams have other priorities, but both sets of fans will want a trip to Wembley. With no replays at this stage in the FA Cup, both teams will need to go at each other and I expect quite a close game.
17:30 – Arsenal v Lincoln City
Having overcome giants such as Sutton United in the previous round, Arsenal have what should be a routine home tie against National League side Lincoln. However, nothing is routine in the FA Cup and there’s noted unrest at Arsenal, on the pitch, off the pitch and in the dressing room by all accounts.
After the humiliating results against Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week, Arsenal will be wanting to avoid embarrassment against Lincoln. However, Lincoln should take the situation at Arsenal as a reason to believe that an upset is possible.
So long as Wenger plays a strong team, and for the sake of his credibility with the fans he should do, I’d expect Arsenal to be out to score 4 or 5. If anything to prove a point. However, with Sanchez laughing and fans on the back of the manager, who knows what could happen.
Sunday 12 March 2017
14:00 – Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall
Spurs host Millwall in the Sunday FA Cup fixture. Millwall are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions and will be no push over for Tottenham.
Harry Kane, Spurs’ main man has said he’d relish facing Millwall and that his loan spell there made him the player he is today. Spurs no longer have any European commitments to worry about this season and having had no midweek game, they can afford to play a strong team in this game.
Neil Harris isn’t able to park the bus and given that there’s no replay tie at this round of the cup, I’d expect a fair number of goals in this game. Millwall will play with no fear and I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to get an early goal, which would worry Spurs. That said, I can only really see one winner in this on.
Monday 13 March 2017
19:45 – Chelsea v Manchester United
Champions elect Chelsea will be hosting Manchester United in the biggest game of the FA Cup weekend and both sides will be hoping for a chance to play at Wembley. Chelsea go into the game knowing they are the heavy favourites against a United side who had been seen as finding form yet have started to lose the momentum they had began to gain.
Both sides go into this game having not faced a Premier League side in the cup so far and will be hoping to provide a good game of attacking football rather than a cagey affair as so often happens when sides from the same division face each other in a cup game. Chelsea have been near perfect at Stamford Bridge with only one defeat at home so far this season, and that was back in September it will be very difficult for Manchester United.
Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge and the lack of Zlatan will get the headlines in the build up to the game. However hopefully people will remember that United, even though they have a strong squad, will be playing their 7th game within 4 weeks compared to Chelsea who will only be playing their 3rd game before they put a possible United defeat down to the lack of Zlatan. Mourinho will be hoping for a much better result compared to the last time he took United to Stamford Bridge when they were well beaten 4-0 by Conte’s side.
United also have a big game on the Thursday after their visit to Chelsea as they have the return leg of their Europa League fixture against FC Rostov which is on a knife-edge after a 1-1 draw in Russia and is possibly more important that the FA Cup as it is beginning to look like one of the best ways for United to be playing Champions League football next season.