Can Wenger’s Men Seal Historic Treble?
Arsenal’s comfortable 4-0 victory at Hull City on Tuesday completed the draw for the FA Cup quarter-finals, which take place over the coming weekend.
There are three all-Premier League ties but all the matches look wide open and it will be fascinating to see which teams can book a place in the final four – and a trip to Wembley.
Here is the Fantasy Football Portal guide to this season’s FA Cup quarter-finals.
Reading v Crystal Palace
Reading are the only non-Premier League side left in the FA Cup and they get the quarter-finals underway at home to Crystal Palace on Friday.
Alan Pardew’s Palace have not won a league game since December 19th and have slipped down the table towards a relegation battle as a result, but they have beaten Southampton, Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur already in the FA Cup this season.
FA Cup outsiders Reading started their Championship season brilliantly but have struggled for consistency in recent months, although the recent signing of Yann Kermorgant has pepped up their attack, the veteran striker scoring two goals and providing two assists in his first eight appearances for the club. Reading’s key man is Oliver Norwood, whose WhoScored rating of 7.44 for 34 Championship appearances marks him out as one of the best midfielders in the league.
Connor Wickham, the 22-year-old striker who recently scored four goals in two appearances, has again been ruled out, but centre-back Scott Dann, available at £6m on Mondogoal, is a major goal threat having hit the net five times in 28 Premier League games this season.
Everton v Chelsea
Given neither side have anything else to play for this season, perhaps Everton v Chelsea has a strong claim to be the biggest tie of the FA Cup quarter-final round this year.
Chelsea’s Champions League exit to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday leaves Guus Hiddink with the FA Cup as the only silverware he can collect, while Roberto Martínez could do with winning a trophy to persuade Everton’s new major shareholder Farhad Moshiri that he is the right man to remain in charge of the club.
Martinez, of course, has FA Cup history having led Wigan Athletic to a shock win against Manchester City in the 2013 final, while Hiddink was in charge of Chelsea when they won the competition in 2009. In fact, Hiddink has never lost an FA Cup tie.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa could miss the trip to Goodison Park after limping off at Stamford Bridge against PSG, perhaps creating opportunities for Bertrand Traoré and Alexandre Pato to impress. For Everton, Romelu Lukaku will be out to impress his former employers and Ross Barkley will be determined to show he can shine on the biggest of stages.
Arsenal v Watford
Arsenal are the favourites to win the FA Cup after brushing aside Hull in their fifth round replay this weekend, with Arsène Wenger’s side aiming to win the competition for the third year in a row.
Watford have had a great first season back in the Premier League but their form has dipped of late and they are struggling for goals, with top scorer Odion Ighalo on a seven-game dry spell.
Arsenal’s strikers have also been out of form but Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud both hit braces against Hull to get back into the groove, although their progress into the last eight was soured by injuries to influential midfielder Aaron Ramsey, as well as defenders Per Mertesacker and Gabriel.
It could therefore be a makeshift Gunners backline, while Mohamed Elneny should get another chance to impress in midfield. For Watford, manager Quique Sánchez Flores may see the FA Cup as another chance to give January signings Mario Suárez and Nordin Amrabat another start.
Manchester United v West Ham United
The Premier League’s sixth and fifth-placed sides face off at Old Trafford in the final quarter-final, with neither club having made it through to the final of the competition for the last eight years.
Slaven Bilić’s Hammers have been among the surprise packages of the season, with playmaker Dimitri Payet in particularly fine form, although they may prioritise their hopes of finishing in the top four of the Premier League – and qualifying for the Champions League – over FA Cup glory.
The cup might well be a matter of pride for Louis van Gaal, who has struggled to make progress at Manchester United despite a vast amount of money being invested in the squad. In fact, van Gaal’s biggest success stories have been the young players he has promoted to the first team, with teenage striker Marcus Rashford scoring four goals in his first two appearances for the club.
West Ham last played Manchester United in the FA Cup in the 2012-13 season, when they exited the cup in the third round after losing a replay 1-0 at Old Trafford following a 2-2 home draw.