The FA Cup is back this weekend as teams are one win away from a Wembley Semi-Final.
Manchester City kick off proceedings away at Middleborough, followed by the biggest game in the history of Lincoln City as they travel to the Emirates in which could be the perfect time to meet the Gunners following another Champions League humiliation.
Tottenham face a London derby with Championship side Millwall and the round culminates with the huge all Premier League clash as Chelsea host Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Middlesbrough v Man City – Saturday 11th March 2017 – 12.15 BT Sport 2HD
The FA Cup quarter final kicks off with an all Premier League affair as the league’s 3rd placed side Man City travel to the Riverside Stadium to face a Middlesbrough side who is struggling to find the net.
Middlesbrough are winless in 10 league games since Christmas, and of those 10 games have failed to score on 7 occasions. The inability to score goals has been a major issue for Boro who are the lowest scoring team in the Premier League, the second lowest team has 5 more goals than them and is the main reason they have fallen in the relegation zone.
The one strength Middlesbrough do have however is a very sturdy defence. They have the best defence of all teams in the bottom half of the table and have conceded only one league goal more than Man City. And this will be the aim of the game in this FA Cup clash, to frustrate City much like Stoke did midweek and hope to get a goal on the counter or from a set piece.
Middlesbrough have a very good record against City when it comes to FA Cup competitions having knocked out Manchester City in four of their last five FA Cup meetings. Although it has to be said Boro have lost their last 3 FA Cup quarter final ties.
Manager Aitor Karanka will look to the FA Cup to kick start a run of fortune in the league, the FA Cup has been the only real highlight for him in the past few months.
He Said: “When someone tells me we are in an awful situation, for me, to be in the Premier League, to be in the quarter-finals, is an amazing situation.”
Daniel Ayala won’t be available, currently out with a hamstring problem suffered last week. Meanwhile, Adlene Guedioura is ineligible having played for Watford in the fourth round.
For Man City, they have seen an improvement in their form of late and are undefeated in 6 games in the league. In fact City are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions, winning six and drawing two. Pep Guardiola will be looking to the FA Cup as a real chance for a piece of silverware in his first season, something that will paper over the disappointment that his side hasn’t challenged for the league. And they have a genuine chance, a victory at the Riverside on Saturday will lead them to a Wembley Semi-Final albeit a strong last four could remain in the competition given the draws both Arsenal and Spurs have this weekend.
Much of City’s woes this season have come from defensive mistakes, goal keeper Bravo playing a leading role in the blunders, however they have kept five successive clean sheets away from home in all competitions. When you overlay this with Middlesbrough’s inability to find the net, it’s hard to see how this game can end in anything other than a Man City win especially when considering Manchester City are the top scoring team left in the FA Cup this season with 13 goals. Boro will make it hard but can’t see anything other than an away win.
Arsenal v Lincoln City – Saturday 11th March 2017 – 17.30 BT Sport 2HD
The most intriguing tie of the quarter finals takes place at the Emirates as non-league Lincoln take on Arsenal, Lincoln the first non-league side to reach the last eight of the FA Cup since 1914.
This could be the perfect storm for Arsenal who suffered yet another humiliating night in Europe getting trounced 5-1 at home by Bayern Munich, losing 10-2 on aggregate.
The mood around the club recently has turned more and more toxic as fans have stepped up their aim to remove Arsene Wenger as manager following years of failure in the league and in Europe. The defeat to Bayern Munich could be the straw that broke the camel’s back as yet more protests are planned ahead of this game.
With this much pressure on the team and an inevitable lack of belief, this could be the perfect time for Lincoln to make the Arsenal players start to doubt themselves. If Lincoln can start bright, defend deep and strong, counter Arsenal and win the physical battle, as each minute passes, the Arsenal players will be all too aware of the storm that will be coming post-match. This can add to nervy individual performances and mistakes.
And Lincoln will be in high spirts, firstly this being the biggest match in the clubs history, secondly the clubs financial stability secured for the next few years and finally the fact that Lincoln have lost just two of their last of their last 24 games in all competitions.
But with all the drama surrounding Arsenal of late, it would be almost unthinkable they won’t win and win comfortably.
Arsenal have only lost one FA Cup tie against a lower league club in the 20 years that Arsene Wenger has been in charge of the club. That defeat coming against Blackburn in the fifth round in 2013.
This has been a happy competition or Arsene Wenger over the years, and has reached this stage of the FA Cup 12 times. In 10 of those 12 times, his sides have progressed to the semi-finals a very good record indeed.
Arsenal pair Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi have both been struggling with illness and are set to miss out. Mesut Ozil is another potential absentee with sickness. Even without some of the key players, you’d expect the fantastic Lincoln City FA Cup story to end on Saturday afternoon, although in a way they have already won.
Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall – Sunday 12th March 2017 – 14.00 BBC One HD
An FA Cup London Derby is set up in the early Sunday afternoon kick off just in time for your Sunday roast. Tottenham have been flying high in the Premier League currently in 2nd place having only lost 1 league game in the last 12. They will be very confident of a home win to book their place in the Semi Final.
Millwall will know the odds are stacked against them as the League One side look to cause an FA Cup upset to book their place in the Semi Final in the first time since 2013.
Millwall would have preferred the home draw but will know tThey have already defeated three Premier League sides in the FA Cup this season. No lower-league side has ever knocked out four top-flight teams in a single FA Cup campaign. Millwall look to make history. Millwall will need to be at their absolute best and hope that Tottenham and more importantly Harry Kane have an off day if they are to stand any chance of progressing to Wembley. Harry Kane alone has scored eight goals in his last three domestic matches. Whilst Harry Kane is the man who gets the headlines Christian Eriksen also deserves much of the praise. He is Tottenham’s top assister in the league with 10 assists which also makes him joint top in the Premier League as a whole. His dynamism in midfield will be hard for Millwall to deal with and he will really hurt them if they focus too much of their attention on Kane.
Tottenham are unbeaten in all 17 matches at White Hart Lane this season and have won the last 11. They have never lost at home to Millwall, in 14 meetings, winning 12 and drawing 2, the signs look bleak for Millwall.
When you chuck into the mix the fact that this will be Tottenham’s last match at White Heart Lane, you’d imagine they will do all they can to make sure they don’t end with a defeat.
I think this will be the end of Milwall’s FA Cup run this year leaving them to focus on getting promotion to the Championship, currently only 6 points off automatic promotion. For Spurs they have to be one of the favourites remaining in the completion and will feel confident whoever they face in the next round if this tie goes according to plan. Then again how often foes the FA Cup go against the script?
Chelsea vs Manchester United Monday 13th March 2017- 20:00- BBC 1 HD
In what must be considered the glamour tie of the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, Manchester United travel to Chelsea with a trip to Wembley in the Semi-Finals up for grabs. United have a horrendous record against Chelsea in recent times. They have failed to beat Chelsea, home or away, in their last 11 games. With United’s last victory back in October 2012, a 3-2 win in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge. It is a run that has seen United lose 6, and draw 11.
The most recent of those defeats came back in October, as the special one returned to his spiritual home, and saw his new side hammered 4-0.
United were poor on that day, they were ragged at the back, ripped open by Pedro’s opener without even having a touch and left flapping from then on. United were terrible at the back and Chelsea did not even need to be at their best to win. They created a number of chances, but principally through United’s own defensive incompetence rather than the home side’s brilliance in attack. Having got a 2-0 lead, Chelsea sat back and waited for the chances to come on the counter.
However, that was United’s last loss in the league, and since that game United have only lost once in all competitions, against Hull City in the second leg of the EFL Cup. The issue for Mourinho being that United are drawing more games than they are winning, including a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth that cost them a chance to get into the top 4.
As bad as United were at the back, Chelsea were better and this was in the midst of their 13 game winning run that took them to the top of the league. A position they remain in today.
With Antonio Conte’s Blues clear at the top of the Premier League, the Italian coach will be eyeing FA Cup glory in a bid to complete the Double in his debut season in England. Chelsea have an advantage of United, in that they have had more time to rest. They played on Monday and were able to extend their lead at the top of the table by 10 points, with a 2-1 win over West Ham.
Following the win over West Ham, Conte’s attention turned to United:
“Now it’s important to rest tomorrow and prepare for the game on Monday against United in the FA Cup, It could be another target for us this season but we know it will be a very tough game.”
“We all know Manchester United are a really good team with strong players and great quality.”
It has been suggested that Conte will bring in all the big guns for this game against United. He has rotated his team for the FA Cup this season, but did bring back Eden Hazard and Diego Costa for the fifth-round victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The likes of Thibaut Courtois, N’Golo Kante and Gary Cahill could also be restored to his FA Cup team. There are no injury concerns for Conte, and it is likely he will play a full strength XI.
Despite a tough 1-1 draw with Rostov, on a pitch that even some Sunday league teams would have troubled navigating, Jose Mourinho promised not to play a “Nicky Butt team” in an effort to retain the trophy they won last season.
“We have to try by every means. We have a trophy in our pocket which is always a good feeling for everyone. Monday we don’t go with a Nicky Butt team. Manchester United is too big, it is the winner of the competition.”
“It is not Chelsea’s fault that we were given this Monday match so we have to make changes for sure because we play Monday and Rostov play Sunday, but we can’t go to Stamford Bridge with a Nicky Butt team.”
One player United will have to do without is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who begins a 3-match suspension for violent conduct, after he elbowed Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings in the face. Ibrahimovic has been a talisman for United this season scoring 26 goals in all competitions, including the winner against Blackburn in the previous round. The question is who replaces Ibrahimovic against Chelsea? He has the choice of Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, or Anthony Martial. It would appear that one of the 2 former players would take Ibrahimović’s place, having not featured against Rostov on Thursday.
Mourinho reported no new injury concerns from the game in Russia, and while United played a 3-5-2 formation against the Russians, it is expected that United will switch to 4-2-3-1 against Chelsea.
Next Bet Wins FA Cup Quarter Final ACCA
Our friends at Next Bet Wins have given us their top tip to cover the weekends FA Cup action. All tips are priced through Bet365.com and are valid as at time of publication.
- Middlesbrough v Man City – Man City over 1.5 goals – 1/2
- Arsenal V Lincoln – Arsenal to win both halves – 4/7
- Tottenham V Millwall – Harry Kane to score 2 or more goals – 7/4
- Chelsea V Man Utd – Both teams to score – 1/1
This ACCA comes in just under 12/1 so is well worth a punt. Good Luck!
By Michael Thatcher and Rich Lee.