And then there were 8. Here’s a look at this weekend’s fascinating FA Cup Quarter-finals. Who are the players to look out for, and which teams will make it through to the final 4?
Watford vs Crystal Palace (kick-off 12:15)
These two Premier League teams go into the FA Cup Quarter-finals with different priorities. 8th-placed Watford are in it to win it. Their manager Javi Gracia even rested stars Troy Deeney, Gerard Deulofeu, Craig Cathcart and José Holebas against Manchester City last weekend. 14th-placed Crystal Palace, however, are still in the relegation scrap. They’re only 5 points above Cardiff City, and they can’t afford any more injuries to the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Michy Batshuayi. Neither team has conceded a goal in their 3 FA Cup games so far, so don’t expect a 5-4 thriller. The league fixture finished 2-1 to Watford back in August, and that seems a likely result again here.
Swansea City vs Manchester City (kick-off 17:20)
Without their top scorer Oli McBurnie, Swansea have lost 3 of their last 4 Championship games. Graham Potter is hoping to have him back alongside livewire Daniel James for the FA Cup Quarter-finals, but it’s not looking hopeful. Although Manchester City are still fighting on 3 fronts, they won’t be taking things easy at the Liberty Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side are simply relentless, as they showed against Burton Albion in the EFL Cup back in January, and against Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday. If Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom can both score 3 against Swansea, Manchester City could easily score 6 or more.
Wolves vs Manchester United (kick-off 19:55)
This is all set to be the most interesting of the FA Cup Quarter-finals. With the strange exception of Huddersfield, Wolves are unbeaten since mid-January. Nuno Espírito Santo has found his best formula and he doesn’t like to mess with it. They’re organised in defence and quick on the counter-attack, with danger men Matt Doherty, Diogo Jota and Raúl Jiménez. How will the Manchester United defence fare against 2 up top and wing-backs who play like wingers? We’ll have to wait and see. At the other end, Ole Gunnar Solskjær will hope to cause Wolves all kinds of problems through Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and maybe even Anthony Martial.
Millwall vs Brighton (kick-off 14:00)
On Wednesday night, Millwall ended a miserable run of 4 consecutive defeats with a 2-0 win at Birmingham City. The Lions have rediscovered their form just in time because Brighton are on the rise after an early 2019 slump. 2 Premier League wins in a row have lifted The Seagulls up to 15th and suddenly, a cup quarter-final doesn’t just feel like an extra game they don’t need. In Glenn Murray, Brighton have a striker who can certainly handle himself against Millwall’s ‘hands-on’ defending, and watch out for Anthony Knockaert too. The French winger has already scored 2 goals in the FA Cup this season, plus a screamer in the league against Crystal Palace last weekend.