FA Cup Quarter-Finals – Match Previews & Betting Tips
The FA Cup resumes this weekend, and there are some tasty looking fixtures to look forward to. Will Everton scupper Manchester City’s quadruple bid? Can Manchester United tame the Foxes? Join us as we preview all four games.
Everton v Manchester City
Saturday 17:30 Venue: Goodison Park Referee: Michael Oliver Assistant Referees: Lee Betts and Sian Massey-Ellis Fourth Official: Mike Dean Odds H 9/1 A 19/4 D 10/29
A Step Closer to the Quadruple For City?
Everton welcomes Manchester City in the FA Cup, knowing that this tournament is their only chance of silverware this season, whereas the visitors are chasing four. For Everton in the FA Cup, it is a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire, beating Tottenham, only to face the tournament favourites in the next round.
The game against Tottenham was an FA Cup classic, a nine-goal spectacle that swung one way than the other. Davinson Sanchez gave Tottenham the lead after four minutes but three quick-fire goals by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, and a Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty in the space of eight minutes gave the Toffees a commanding lead. Tottenham fought back with goals from Erik Lamela and a second from Sanchez. Everton took the lead through a second by Richarlison before Harry Kane equalised for the London side in the 83rd minute. Substitute Bernard settled the tie, his goal in the seventh minute of extra time enough to separate the sides.
In the previous game against Burnley, Jordan Pickford was forced off and will miss this game against City. Some Everton fans won’t be that disappointed the England number one is not available as Pickford has been guilty of goalkeeping blunders which have hurt his team. The 27-year-old has made three errors that have led to goals in the league, one more than any other goalkeeper (Alisson, Pope, Kepa and Meslier, who all have two errors).
A bigger miss is likely to be James Rodríguez who leads Everton’s match rating tables. The 29-year-old has five goals and four assists and has won the man-of-the-match award twice but will sit out this game with an injury. Everton will still be a threat though Dominic Calvert-Lewin has the best goal numbers between the sides, scoring 21 in all competitions in 35 games. His strike partner Richarlison is also in good form, scoring in four consecutive games before recent blanks against Chelsea & Burnley. A worry is Everton’s home form, having lost five of ten competitive matches this year at Goodison Park.
Quadruple on their minds, Man City will most definitely play a strong side as they have always done in the domestic competitions. The league leaders have lost just once in the last twenty-three games in all competitions.
The Citizens have won the last six consecutive games, and lost just once in the last ten games against their hosts.
Already fourteen points clear at the top of the table, City have the option to rotate players to keep them fresh for their assault on the other three fronts. Worryingly for City’s rivals, City have no injury worries with their legendary striker Sergio Aguero back in the fold after missing almost all the season to injury. The Argentinian scored from the spot in City’s 3-0 win against Fulham, his first goal in 417 days.
Even if Everton do manage to keep Aguero quiet, they will also have to contend with Gabriel Jesus, who in 100 games has had ninety-five-goal involvements (73 goals, 22 assists). The Brazilian has eight goals and two assists in the last ten games. Even if those two have a bad game, there are goals all over this City side, Ilkay Gündogan Is having an excellent season and has scored twelve from midfield, and Raheem Sterling is always a threat; the 26-year-old has fourteen goals in all competitions.
Our Verdict- Everton 1 Manchester City 3
Bournemouth v Southampton
Can the Underdogs Win the South Coast Derby?
Saturday 12:15 Venue: Vitality Stadium Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt and Constantine Hatzidakis Fourth Official: Simon Hooper Odds H 37/13 A 5/2 D 19/17
Just 47 miles separate these two teams, and a decade ago, these two were slugging it out in League One, England’s third tier. Much has changed in that decade; five years later, they played each other in the Premier League. Bournemouth stayed in the top-flight for five years before suffering relegation last year, relegated by a single point over Aston Villa. The last time Bournemouth beat their south coast neighbours in the FA Cup was in the first round replay in 1953-54. The Championship side will be on just their second appearance in the quarter-final since losing to Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ in 1957.
The Cherries have found it tough against top-flight opposition, progressing in just four of their twenty-nine ties. They are the only non-Premier League side still alive in the competition. Jack Wilshere has been impressive for Jonathan Woodgate’s side in the midfield alongside Billing, who scored a magnificent volley in their previous 3 – 1 win against Swansea in the Championship. They will be without Lewis Cook, Adam Smith, and David Brooks and Junior Stanislas, who scored in their 2 – 0 win against Burnley that sent them to this competition stage. They have a lot to do in the Championship as the gap to the top six is now just two points in their quest to play-offs after a poor run of form since Christmas suffering eight defeats and just six wins that have hampered their automatic promotion hopes. All the injuries and poor run of form, and the poor historical success in the tie make them the underdog against the top-tier club.
The Saints are unbeaten in the last four away games (two wins, two draws) against Bournemouth in all competitions. They have reached the semi-finals just once in the last seventeen seasons, which was in the 2017-18 season, where they were eliminated by the eventual winners Chelsea. Che Adams, who has been called up for the World Cup qualifiers for Scotland, is one to watch out for, having scored in the last game against Brighton.
They have relegation to worry about in the league after being dragged down to just seven points safe from the drop zone. It would be interesting to see if Ralph Hasenhuttl plays a strong side or focuses on avoiding the drop. They have had a successful FA Cup campaign beating the most successful side in the competition, Arsenal 1 – 0 and conquered Wolves 2 – 0 in the fifth round. They are yet to concede in the competition and have a great attack to match their defence. This game will distract them from the poor league form of ten defeats in the last twelve games. They had the sixth-best record from the first half of the League, scoring forty-five goals was only two short of Leeds United forty-six.
Our Verdict- Bournemouth 1 Southampton 1
Chelsea v Sheffield United
Will the Blues Blunt the Blades?
Saturday 13:30 Venue: Stamford Bridge Referee: Andrew Madley Assistant Referees: Neil Davies and Edward Smart Fourth Official: Ande Marriner Odds H 3/11 A 23/4 D 14/1
Chelsea has been almost perfect under Thomas Tuchel. They are unbeaten in thirteen games under the former Dortmund and PSG manager and beat Atletico Madrid over two legs in the Champions League to reach the last eight. With Chelsea facing Porto in the next round, they could be serious contenders to win the competition. It is in the defence that the German has improved the Chelsea team most since taking over from Frank Lampard, only conceding two goals, one of which was an own goal. In goal, they have Edouard Mendy, who stat wise is the second-best keeper in the League, with fourteen clean sheets only bettered by Manchester City’s Ederson (15). Mason Mount, who missed the midweek games through suspension, will be full of energy to influence the game against the Premier League’s bottom club and on paper, this should be an easy game for the Blues with the quality at their disposal. Mount has scored five and assisted three, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him scoring against United.
The departure of Chris Wilder after five years in charge has left the side crippled and low on morale, as seen in their first game since he left, a 5-0 hammering at the King Power Stadium against Leicester. It was a defeat that has left them a huge fourteen points away from safety with just nine games left to play. With the fat lady warming up, it does pose an interesting question, do Sheffield United forget about the league campaign and go all out in this competition? They could, of course, emulate Wigan Athletic, who won the FA Cup and was relegated in 2013, the first team to achieve the feat. If United are to get anything from this game, they need to score, something they have struggled with all season. David McGoldrick, who scored in the 1-0 win against Aston Villa, is their top scorer on six. Billy Sharp (3) and Jayden Bogle are the only other players who have scored more than one. Paul Heckingbottom, the interim manager, could permanently land the job if he can turn the club’s fortunes around, but it is a huge ask.
Our Verdict- Chelsea 3 Sheffield United 0
Leicester City v Manchester United
Vardy Back to Scoring Ways?
Saturday 17:00 Venue: King Power Stadium Referee: Craig Pawson Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett and Harry Lennard Fourth Official: Darren England Odds H 3/11 A 23/4 D 14/1
Only Pep Guardiola (57) and Jürgen Klopp (53) have won more games than Brendan Rogers (40) since the start of last season. Leicester is no longer classed as a surprise team, having been consistently near the top of the table for two years. Jamie Vardy is still the team’s top scorer on twelve league goals but has had to endure a lean spell with just the one goal scored in 2021 so far (against Liverpool in the 3-1 win). Although the veteran has turned provider, assisting two last time out. Thankfully for Leicester, Kelechi Iheanacho is in fine form, scoring in three consecutive games, including a hat-trick in their last game, a 5-0 win over Sheffield United. This competition is Leicester’s last hope of silverware, a 2-0 home loss against Slavia Prague, ending their participation in the Europa League. A defeat made all the more painful as they were the only British team to fall at that stage. Although they are likely to give it their all, their opposition has had the upper hand in this fixture recently, eight defeats and two draws in ten against Manchester United in the last ten.
Manchester United is through to the last eight of the Europa League, winning 1 – 0 in Italy against AC Milan to progress 2-1 on aggregate. They were rather fortunate to be in the quarter-finals, with the Milan side playing the better football over the two legs. In the FA Cup, they have had to do it the hard way, beating champions Liverpool 3-2 in the fourth round and had Premier League opposition in the fifth round, West Ham, who they beat 1-0 at Old Trafford. Defensively United have been solid, conceding just three goals in all competitions in ten, but offensively they have struggled in recent games, scoring just five in seven games. Rashford was substituted at half-time against AC Milan, enabling Paul Pogba to come on and score, but with injuries to Martial and Cavani, the Red Devils are looking short in attack. With Cavani rated at 50%, Martial 25% and Rashford 75%, this could well be a tough fixture for United.
Our Verdict- Leicester 2 Manchester United 1
The Draw for the FA Cup Semi-Final
The draw for the semi-final of the 2021 FA Cup will be held after the match between Leicester and Manchester United and can be viewed on BT Sport 1.
Semi-final draw numbers
1 Everton or Manchester City
2 AFC Bournemouth or Southampton
3 Leicester City or Manchester United
4 Chelsea or Sheffield United