The first game of the FA Cup Quarter Finals begin within the hour at the Riverside with Middlesbrough facing Manchester City ahead of 3 other big quarter final ties this weekend. Of course, Middlesbrough would be considered the underdogs as Pep has not shied away from playing a strong side as he goes for his first bit of silverware since joining City. I think if you was to ask Middlesbrough fans if they would prefer an FA Cup Trophy or Premier League survival then many would go for the latter as they look to stay up in their 1st season back in the top flight. They are 3 points from safety with 4 tough games coming in the league starting away at Man United followed by 3 games against fellow strugglers Swansea, Hull and Burnley, 2 of them away from the Riverside. My Prediction for this game will be an away win with Man City being too strong for the home side who would rather turn their attentions to Premier League survival.
Two teams who have brought a breath of fresh air to the FA Cup this year are Lincoln and Millwall. Both sides have taken Premier League scalps so far and both look to take another 2 this weekend. Lincoln go to the Emirates this evening looking to claim the biggest shock of the weekend and put further pressure on a struggling Arsene Wenger. Things have been far from good for the Arsenal boss after a humiliating 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich concluding in the week and the league far from their clutches, the FA Cup seems the only hope of silverware to possibly give a happy conclusion to the season and maybe Wenger’s future as he decides on his future at the club. The Cowley brothers have had opposite seasons as they enjoy both success in the league and cup. 6 points clear at the top of the National League with 12 games remaining and just one game from a Semi-Final cup appearance at Wembley, Lincoln have provided one of the best footballing stories of this season and their history. As much as it would be great to see Lincoln win at the Emirates, I think this is a step too far and believe Arsenal will be too strong and win comfortably.
Millwall previously knocked out Champions Leicester with a last minute winner from Shaun Cummings, as well as victories against Bournemouth and Watford they go to White Hart Lane for the last ever FA Cup game at the stadium against a Tottenham team in good form and a Harry Kane who cannot stop scoring. Pochettino played a strong side against Fulham in the last round and with no European football for the rest of the season I see no changes to that and expect a strong team out against the unbeaten in 17 League One side. Tottenham are strong favourites for this game and I do think they will come away with the win but to me this could be the tightest game out of the weekend’s fixtures as Millwall have proven they are no pushovers against top flight opposition.
The Quarter Finals conclude on Monday with Premier League leaders Chelsea hosting Manchester United. This will be another tight game of football as shown over the years but these games can have a tendency to sometimes provide a shock result. Conte’s men have come off a away win against London rivals West Ham and have had a week free from games due to no participation in Continental Football this year. However, the same cannot be said about United who had a disappointing draw against 10 man Bournemouth last week and then travelled thousands of miles to Russia to draw 1-1 against FC Rostov on Thursday so the preparation for this game is much better for the home side. I think this game could go to extra time and from then on it could be anyone’s game but for me Chelsea nick a win against United and move onto a Wembley Semi Final in the hopes of clinching the double this year.
Predictions: Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea – 2/1 with Sky Bet
Longshots- Lincoln to win 33/1, Millwall to win 18/1 with Sky Bet