FA Cup Predictions & Tips: City To Stay On Course For Cup Double?

Leigh Copson:

The 2019/20 FA resumes with the four quarter-final ties finally taking place over the course of the weekend, and we have picked out our favourite bet for each tie as the last eight teams standing look to book a place in the semi-finals of the world’s oldest cup competitions.

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FA Cup Predictions & Tips: Sheffield United v Arsenal (Sunday 13:00 BST)

Out of the Europa League and well off the pace for the top five in the Premier League, Arsenal are staring one of their worst seasons in recent memory right in the face. And it is not like the last few years have been full of glory either. The FA Cup represents their last chance at silverware this season, but unless they sort themselves out they will be trophyless once again at the end of the 2019/20 campaign. Since returning to action they have been soundly beaten at Manchester City and blown a lead to lose at Brighton, but they did stop the rot with a timely victory at Southampton on Thursday night and that will have renewed some confidence in the camp ahead of this trip to face Sheffield United.

In recent weeks, the Blades have struggled to replicate the form that they showed prior to the sudden hiatus, but this is not a team that has turned bad overnight. They were one VAR blunder away from leaving Aston Villa with all three points in the bag and had it not been for the second-half dismissal of John Egan up at Newcastle United, they may have taken something from that trip to St James’ Park too. Yes, they were ran over by Manchester United earlier this week, but the Blades were coming up against an in-form team and it is safe to say that they are now facing an Arsenal team that hardly set the world alight by beating a Southampton side that have been appalling at home.

Sheffield United can and will win this match, as far as I am concerned. The Blades ran out 1-0 winners when they hosted Arsenal and then earned a share of the spoils when they visited the Emirates Stadium back in January. Chris Wilder’s side have shown that they are more than capable of producing positive results against the Gunners, and only adding to my confidence is the fact that Arsenal have been terrible away from the Emirates (not that they have been great at home either). They have managed just five away wins in domestic competition this season! So when you combine all of this with Sheffield United’s usually rock-solid defence, backing the Blades for a win and a clean sheet is very tempting.

FA Cup Predictions & Tips: Leicester City v Chelsea (Sunday 16:00 BST)

Leicester City’s underwhelming form continued in midweek as they settled for their second consecutive stalemate. Having given up a last-gasp equaliser at Watford, the Foxes needed a first-half penalty save from Kasper Schmeichel to earn a share of the spoils from a forgettable goalless draw at home to Brighton, and that means they have now won just two of their last nine games in all competitions. If that becomes two wins in 10 on Sunday then Leicester’s final opportunity to claim silverware this season will be done and dusted.

Next up for the Foxes is the visit of a Chelsea side who have done well in their first full season under Frank Lampard. The Blues have been forced to operate under a transfer embargo that prevented Lampard from strengthening his team following the loss of several players, most notably Eden Hazard, but he has so far managed to get results from his side and not only are they on course for a top-four finish in the Premier League, they also have a shot at lifting a trophy in the form of the FA Cup. They returned to action a week ago with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa to make it three wins on the bounce, and while this preview was written prior to the Manchester City game on Thursday night, I am confident enough to say that this a team in good form.

Therefore I am backing Chelsea to come out on top here. Prior to Tuesday night I would have given Leicester the benefit of the doubt, but once again they were well below par and it is hard to ignore the underwhelming run of results they have recorded either side of the Premier League shutdown. They are there for the taking right now so I am backing Chelsea to replicate their 2018 quarter-final success at the King Power Stadium with a victory on Sunday evening.

FA Cup Predictions & Tips: Newcastle United v Manchester City (Sunday 18:30 BST)

Manchester City went into the shutdown on a real downer after the derby defeat at Manchester United, but since returning to action they have been clinical. They made their return to action with a comfortable 3-0 win over Arsenal and followed that up with a 5-0 rout of Burnley that could have, and probably should have been, a lot more convincing. That set them up nicely for Thursday night’s trip to Chelsea and with that match now in the books Pep Guardiola’s side will resume their quest to win both domestic cup competitions. They saw off Aston Villa to win the League Cup in February, but can they also go all the way in the FA Cup? Newcastle United stand between them and the semi-finals.

The Magpies sprang a surprise in their first game back as they rattled in three second-half goals to stun high-flying Sheffield United at St James’ Park, but the simple fact is that Manchester City are a totally different proposition to the Blades. That has not stopped Toon from pulling off some surprises results against City though. In January of 2019 they sent Guardiola’s men home empty-handed thanks to a 2-1 win and 10 months later they were able to hold City to a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park – one of the results that allowed Liverpool to open up their huge lead at the top of the Premier League. So as you can see, Newcastle should not be written off, but there is no way that I am going against City here.

The visitors should leave the North East with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and I expect them to win and keep a clean sheet in the process – since the season has resumed there have not been many matches involving top flight teams that have seen both teams score. Manchester City will not run riot like they did against Burnley though – no team has scored more than three goals at St James’ Park this season and only three teams have managed to score two or more.