How the FA Cup is shaping up after the fifth round
We’re now down to the last eight teams remaining in the FA Cup, after an unusual midweek fifth round took place, with action spread across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There were no huge shocks, with Bournemouth the last non-Premier League team remaining after they knocked out Burnley, while Everton and Tottenham Hotspur served up the greatest entertainment of the round, with the Toffees emerging 5-4 winners after extra time.
The quarter-final draw has been made, and there are a few tasty ties to look forward to. The matches are set to take place over the weekend of March 20th and 21st, so teams have plenty of time to build some momentum in the league before battling it out for a place in the semi-finals at Wembley. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of the quarter-final ties.
Everton v Manchester City
One of the ties of the round, Everton will be hoping they can repeat the result they notched against Tottenham in the fifth round, although coach Carlo Ancelotti would no doubt prefer a more straight-forward victory. That won’t be easy, however, as the formidable force of Manchester City stand in their way.
City are serial domestic cup winners, and last won the FA Cup two seasons ago when they thrashed Watford in the final. They lost in the semi-finals to Arsenal last season and will be looking to put that right this time by going all the way again. They are the favourites to win the competition among those betting on the latest sporting events.
Everton have not been in an FA Cup final since they lost to Chelsea in 2009, and have lost twice in the semi-finals in the time since. But Ancelotti has brought the team to new levels this season, and it should be a hard-fought battle at Goodison Park for a place in the last four.
Bournemouth v Southampton
From the north west to the south coast, and an intriguing clash between Bournemouth and Southampton. Bournemouth performed something of an upset by defeating Burnley at Turf Moor in the fifth round, and they’ll fancy their chances against a Southampton team who aren’t running on a lot of confidence at the moment.
That said, the Saints did stop the rot with a 2-0 win against a weakened Wolves side at Molineux in the fifth round. At one stage this season it looked as though they were set to challenge for European football, but they have faded away. Could the FA Cup be their saving grace?
Leicester City v Manchester United
Another clash of teams battling it out towards the top of the Premier League table. Brendan Rodgers has turned Leicester City into an excellent all-round team, and the performances of players such as Harvey Barnes and James Maddison continue to impress. The Foxes reached the last eight via a 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, and will be hoping to continue their good form between now and the quarter-finals. You have to go back to 1982 for the last time Leicester played in an FA Cup final, so you can understand how desperate their fans are for cup success.
Manchester United similarly required just a single goal to see off West Ham United after extra time. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men are still doing their utmost to try and usurp Manchester City from the top of the Premier League table, but if they fail to do so, then success in the FA Cup could help ease the pain. They’ll have their work cut out to best Rodger’s side though.
Chelsea v Sheffield United
It was 1-0 wins all-round for Chelsea and Sheffield United too, as they overcame Barnsley and Bristol City respectively. Chelsea have looked much more assured since Thomas Tuchel took over at Stamford Bridge, and after losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal last season, the players will be desperate to get their hands on the silverware this time around.
Sheffield United have struggled in the Premier League this season, but have found a small bit of form of late, which has helped them reach the last eight of the FA Cup. Indeed, the Blades ran Chelsea close at Bramall Lane not too long ago, just losing out by the odd goal in three. Rule out Chris Wilder’s side at your peril.