It’s A Football Crazy Weekend
There’s plenty going on in the world of football this weekend with four FA Cup Quarter-Finals featuring Swansea and Tottenham, Manchester United vs Brighton, Wigan vs Southampton, and Leicester vs Chelsea.
There’s also plenty of action concerning the top teams in League One, whilst there’s plenty to play for in League One and League Two. You can also check out the Champions League Quarter-Finals Draw.
Champions League News
There will be no repeat of last season’s Champions League Final as Real Madrid and Juventus are set to fight it out at the quarter-final stage this season. Meanwhile, Barcelona arguably drew the weakest team Roma, whilst Bayern Munich take-on Sevilla who knocked-out Manchester United in the round-of-16. Of course, that leaves Liverpool to take on fellow English side Manchester City.
FA Cup Quarter-Finals
Tottenham are odds-on favourites as they bid to become the first team to book their place in the FA Cup Semi-Finals but, having needed a replay to get past both Newport County and Rochdale, there has to be a doubt as to whether their value to do so.
Swansea, who looked relegation fodder for much of the season, are now up to fourteenth in the Premier League thanks to an excellent record in recent weeks in which they have won a total of seven consecutive league and cup home games.
Tottenham are unbeaten on the road in eight matches in all competitions though, so it should be a hard-fought passage to the semis for either team.
Brighton will be looking for revenge for their 1983 FA Cup Final defeat by Manchester United, a final they could have easily won first time round before being outclassed in a replay after an initial 2-2 draw. However, they’ve lost all but one of their matches against the top-6 clubs this season and probably lack the class to do any better than their 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, Wigan fans will be hoping that the FA Cup dream continues for the League One side who defied the odds to beat Premier League Champions elect Manchester City in the last round. They’ll have to beat a third Premier League team in succession in Southampton – but it’s Wigan who have a stronger FA Cup pedigree having also beaten Manchester City in the final in 2013.
Finally, it’s Leicester vs Chelsea and both teams will be hoping to get something from a season that otherwise has failed to deliver. Leicester have again possible overachieved as they currently sit eighth in the Premier League, but Chelsea fans will not be happy having exited from the Champions League this week, whilst they also look to be struggling to qualify for next year’s Champions League. However, after losing just one of their last 15 matches against Leicester, they’ll be hopeful of making it to the semis even if three draws in their last six games against Leicester suggests it may have to be after a replay.
Liverpool are probably relishing the chance to knock Manchester City out of the Champions League, especially after beating them at home 3-2 this season. However, they also need to keep producing the goods in the Premier League to a make sure they qualify for the 2018/19 Champions League. Having slipped to fifth, they’re only four-points clear of Chelsea but should be confident of extending that gap this weekend as they bid to make it five home wins against Watford in a row.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, both Stoke and Crystal Place have a chance to move out of the relegations zone. Stoke will also be hopeful of a win after winning three and drawing one of their last four matches against Everton, whilst Crystal Palace have improved since losing 3-0 against Huddersfield earlier in the season.
Aston Villa’s defeat of Wolves last weekend gave renewed hope of wrestling the Championship title away from Wolves to themselves, Cardiff and Fulham. It could be an interesting final few games of the season, and Sky Sports are rewarding the chasers’ efforts by showing all three of their games live this weekend.
Fulham (Saturday 12.30) get first chance to increase the pressure on Wolves as they take on QPR, but they did lose at home to QPR last year 2-1. However, they reversed that form this season with a 2-1 at QPR to make it four wins in their last six against them.
It’s then the turn of Wolves (not on TV, 3.00) to try and put the pressure on as they take on Burton Albion. Wolves could only manage a draw at home against them last season but annihilated them 4-0 away earlier this season.
Aston Villa (Saturday 5.30) will then travel to Bolton where they’ll be hoping to repeat the 2-1 victory they managed when last playing there in 2011. They’ll be confident too as they beaten Bolton 1-0 in September.
Cardiff, who are now within three-points of Wolves, must wait until Sunday at 12.00 to play as they travel to fifth-placed Derby. Derby are out of the reckoning for the title but will be hoping to make the play-offs. Last season, it was Cardiff who won a 4-3 thriller, yet it was a different story in Cardiff in September when the two teams held each other to a 0-0 draw.
With Wigan busy in the FA Cup, Blackburn and Shrewsbury will be both be hoping to take maximum points from their matches this weekend as they keep up their challenges for the League One Title. Blackburn, who are five-points clear of Wigan and Shrewsbury but have played three and two games more than their rivals, travel to Gillingham. The pair have played just once in recent seasons with Blackburn winning 1-0 at home this season. Meanwhile, Shrewsbury have won their last two games against Scunthorpe and will be hoping to make it three.
Accrington will be hoping to maintain their advantage of second-place Luton now they’ve edged ahead for the race for the League Two title and a shade of odds-on looks a fair-price as they play hosts to a Forest Green side near the foot of the table.
Meanwhile, Luton will be desperate to get back to winning ways after three draws and that home defeat to Accrington in their last four games. However, Luton haven’t had much luck at Newport in recent seasons with three defeats followed by last season’s 1-1 draw in which Newport had a player sent-off.
Barcelona should remain in cruise control as they host Atletico Bilbao whilst Real Madrid should also land long odds-on quotes as they host Girona. However, second-placed Atletico Madrid won’t be looking forward to their match at Villareal having failed to win any of their previous five matches against the sixth-placed side in La Liga. They’ve lost on their last two visits to Villareal and only drew at home with them earlier this season. Nine of the last 10 matches also produced less than 2.5 goals.
Juventus won’t be pleased to have drawn Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. However, that shouldn’t put them off maintaining their 4-point cushion at the top of Serie A as they take on Spal who they’ve already beaten 4-1 this season. Napoli should be able to at least sustain their challenge though as they host a Genoa side who they have beaten in the last three renewals of this fixture.