England’s oldest and most prestigious cup competition is reaching its business end.
The quarterfinals are set to be played at the weekend, with the four victorious teams earning a trip to Wembley.
Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur (Sat 17/03, 12:15)
Both teams are without their leading scorers, as Swansea’s Jordan Ayew misses out due to suspension and Tottenham’s Harry Kane through an ankle injury.
The Swans are in fine form at home, winning their last seven matches at the Liberty Stadium including wins over Liverpool and Arsenal. The last team to beat them at home was Spurs, who won 2-0 there in January. Swansea earned a point in the two sides’ other encounter this season by frustrating Tottenham’s attack to grind out a 0-0 stalemate.
Even without Kane, Spurs should still have enough firepower to overcome Swansea, especially if Heung-Min Son continues his scoring run.
Prediction: Tottenham 2, Swansea 1
Manchester United vs Brighton & Hove Albion (Sat 17/03, 19:45)
United have had a great FA Cup campaign, scoring eight goals and allowing none en route to the quarterfinals. It’s difficult to predict which Manchester United will show up: the one that beat Liverpool last weekend or the one that crashed out of the Champions League to Sevilla on Tuesday.
Brighton are exceeding expectations this season and are 11th in the Premier League, likely just a few wins from safety. If this game was on the south coast instead of at
Old Trafford, Brighton would have a better chance of scaring the Red Devils. But United shouldn’t be troubled too much at home.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Brighton 0
Wigan Athletic vs Southampton (Sun 18/03, 13:30)
Wigan are the lone non-Premier League side left by virtue of their victory over Manchester City, and will hope to replicate their miraculous run in 2013 when they lifted the trophy. It’s far from impossible as they take on a Southampton side in a bit of a tailspin at the moment.
The Saints are just one point above the relegation zone in the Premier League and recently fired manager Mauricio Pellegrino. Wigan should set up to defend and counter, and try to steal a goal through Will Grigg, the tournament’s leading scorer.
Prediction: Wigan 1, Southampton 0 (after extra time)
Leicester City vs Chelsea (Sun 18/03, 16:30)
This should be the most competitive match of the quarterfinals with two teams from the Premier League’s top 8 facing off. Leicester are tough to beat at the King Power Stadium, and with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez in good form, the Foxes are good enough to trouble anyone.
Chelsea have been inconsistent this season but are formidable when at their best. They have world-class talent from back to front and already beat Leicester away this season.
It could easily go either way, but Chelsea are more fatigued after playing at Barcelona on Wednesday and Leicester’s extra rest may be the difference.
Prediction: Leicester City 2, Chelsea 1
A lot depends on the draw, but based on these predictions Spurs and United would be the likely finalists. Tottenham have an advantage having played at Wembley all season, and they beat United there recently. The result of a match between the two sides, whether in the final or the semifinal, would depend on the health of Harry Kane.
If he’s at full fitness, Tottenham will win this year’s FA Cup. If not, United will lift the trophy for the 13th time.
Photo by Nathan Rogers on Unsplash