With the league being wrapped up for Liverpool after Man City’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea, the race for top and relegation now takes the limelight. Chelsea has kept their 5 point gap between themselves and Man United and the Wolves respectively. But the relegation places are a lot closer with only one point separating 19th and 16th.
However, this week sees the return of the oldest cup competition in England and the world, founded in 1871-72 season, the FA Cup. It is comprised of all the teams from the Premier League down to League 2 and also the five semi-professional leagues below who play qualifiers to enter the competition. The cup is known for its drama, from underdog stories to giant killers, the competition is never dull and each season throws out some of the biggest upsets imaginable. Before I give you my prediction on FA Cup games and some of the EPL games being played at the same time, we’ll have a trip down memory lane and this history of this amazing cup.
The first winners of the cup were none other than world-famous London based club Wanderers FC. Don’t worry I’ve never heard of them either as the team was dissolved only 7 years after winning the first installment of this competition. They were only recently reformed in 2009. The most successful team in the competition’s history is Arsenal, winning the trophy 13 times, while the current holders, Man City, have only won the cup 6 times. The FA Cup final became one of the most anticipated days for any football fan in England to look forward to. Despite their team not being in the final, fans up and down the country would watch the game and even the build-up from 9 am until the kick-off at 1:30 pm.
Winning the FA Cup guarantees the team qualification for the Europa League the next season regardless of what league your team currently plays in. You could one minute be playing the League 2 away at Stevenage and the next game being at home against Inter Milan, which is why people keep their eyes on the main upsets in the cup.
Some of the most outstanding upsets occur and make this the most unpredictable club competition in the world. For example, one of the biggest cup upsets was when record-holders Arsenal were drawn against the old 4th Division side Wrexham in 1992. Arsenal were the current then League 1 champions and were expected to walk over Wrexham and advance to the next round, however, the Red Dragons pulled off an incredible 2-1 victory against a side full of international greats, such as David Seaman, Tony Adams, and Alan Smith. This competition’s rich history makes every game intriguing and although the games we will see this week are between Premier League opposition don’t be surprised to see one or two upsets.
Now we’ll get on to the predictions starting with the FA Cup fixtures.
Manchester United VS Norwich City
Man United are coming off the back of an impressive 3-0 victory against a Sheffield United side that is pushing for the top 4. Anthony Martial scored the club’s first hat trick since Robin Van Persie in 2013, which is a laughable stat, but the Red Devils look to be in fine form heading into this quarter-final tie. Norwich, on the other hand, look like a team down on their luck, losing both their games since the restart. They look certain for relegation back to the Championship. However, this is their only chance to win a trophy this season, so don’t expect them to down without a fight. My prediction is that Man United will win this one but it’ll be closer than expected.
Prediction – Man United – 2-0
Daniel’s prediction – Manchester United
Sheffield United VS Arsenal
Both teams haven’t been in the greatest of form with Arsenal being the only team out of the two to actually pick up a victory from the 3 games they have played so far. The Blades have shown this season that you can never count them out and they have the squad spirit to pull off any result. Arsenal on the other hand still has major problems to sort out, having only just picked up their first win against Southampton, especially when it comes to away form. Arsenal’s strike force is one that on paper looks like they should be score 3-4 goals a game, however, they are relying on young striker Eddie Nketiah to dig them out of a hole a mile deep. Don’t expect anything special from this game.
My Prediction – Sheffield United – 1-0
Daniel’s prediction – Sheffield United
Leicester City Vs Chelsea
Leicester have failed to pick up a victory so far with two draws since the restart. Still fighting to keep hold of their third-place spot from their opponent Chelsea, they will be wanting to go out and put a performance of a team worthy of Champions League football. However, Chelsea has just produced a performance that not a lot of people expected beating Man City 2-1 and handing Liverpool the title. Chelsea looked well-drilled and able to rise to any occasion. With their history in this competition, I just can’t see Leicester pulling out the victory.
My Prediction – Chelsea – 2-0
Daniel’s prediction – Leicester City
Newcastle United VS Man City
Well, this is a game where if you like goals you might want to tune in. Newcastle has been a team of inconsistency this season, never really following up on a big display. They don’t have the fire-power to threaten this Man City side at the back. Man City only has this Cup left seeing as their race for the Premier League title finished last night (in truth finished in about January) so they will be all guns blazing for this game. Expect one of two things; 1) Man City to go out there and win by 4 goals, or, 2) They create their own problems and lose 1-0. For myself, I’m going to go with the first option.
My Prediction – Man City – 4-0
Daniel’s prediction – Manchester City
Moving on to the 3 EPL games played withing this small window.
Aston Villa VS Wolves
Poor Aston Villa, they pull out a point against Newcastle that gives them hope of staying up and then have to come into this game against a Wolves side that looks like they can’t concede. Villa has 7 games left to try and find the form needed to save themselves from the drop, however having to play Wolves, Liverpool, and Man United in the next 3 games, I think we can say goodbye to Aston Villa this season. Wolves will be wanting the three points to push for that 4th spot and Champions League qualification, especially with the teams around them being caught up in another competition. Pretty simple choice for me.
My Prediction – Wolves – 2-0
Daniel’s prediction – Wolves
Watford VS Southampton
Watford is another team clinging on by the skin of their teeth, looking down and out back in January, they have pulled out the form needed to claw their way out of the bottom 3 and are now one point clear in 16th. However, 9 points ahead of them are Southampton, who despite losing to Arsenal, look like a team on the up. With a bit of financial backing, and if Danny Ings can stay fit, Southampton could push for the top half of the table and possibly be in with the other teams scrapping for the European qualification places. This is a tough match to call but seeing as I haven’t had a draw this time, I’ll go with that.
My prediction – Draw – 1-1
Daniel’s prediction – Southampton
Crystal Palace VS Burnley
The final game I will cover consists of two teams that are very similar in playing styles. Palace has made a habit of grinding out 1-0 and 2-0 wins however their form since returning hasn’t been that impressive, with 2 losses including a 4-0 battering by Liverpool. Burnley looks as if they were going to be in the same boat after the Man City game losing 5-0, which could have been 10-0, but they bounced back with a 1-0 win over Watford. This is another game where I find it hard to pick a clear winner so I’m going to go with another draw.
My prediction – Draw – 0-0
Daniel’s prediction – Crystal Palace
There you have it. My predictions for the FA Cup and some EPL games, if you trust my opinion enough to wack a bet on it’s a lovely 228.41/1, but if you do win I want a cut. Let me know if you agree or disagree and if you do disagree let me know what your prediction is.