FA Cup 5th Round: Exit Beckons For At Least Two Premier League Clubs6 min read
Portsmouth v Arsenal
Arsenal to win both halves
Fratton Park plays host to the 5th round opener between League One hopefuls Portsmouth and Premier League heavyweights Arsenal. The Gunners are undefeated in 25 of their last 28 FA Cup matches and I think they have too much about them to be worrying about an upset.
Now that Arsenal no longer have the Europa League to focus on, I fancy Mikel Arteta to set his men up with attacking intent, aiming to secure an early goal and settle any nerves. If that happens, I can see Arsenal dispatching Pompey with relative ease and thereby extending their impressive FA Cup record.
Chelsea v Liverpool
Total Goals Under 2.5 – 90 mins
For me, this is the tie of the round. Frank Lampard’s four winner’s medals is a reflection of his love affair with the competition and Liverpool are the best team on the planet this season.
Since there are no replays at this stage of the competition, I see this being a tight, cagey affair. However, much will depend on the side Jurgen Klopp decides to put out, although as both Shrewsbury and Everton can attest to, even a more youthful Reds side will take some stopping.
Reading v Sheffield United
Sheffield United to win 2-1 – 90 mins
Mark Bowen’s Reading side seem to have settled into mid-table obscurity in the Championship this season, so they’ll be buoyed by a good cup run that saw them win a thrilling shootout against Cardiff in the last round. Sheffield United have continued to confound expectations with their league form taking them within touching distance of the Champions League spots.
Owing to the Blades’ league position, there is a chance the Cup might not be their highest priority, so a convincing win against a hungry Reading side won’t be easy to come by. However, I fancy that they’ll just about get the job done against a spirited Reading.
West Brom v Newcastle United
Newcastle to win the match – 90 mins
Newcastle are hosted by West Brom having edged past Oxford in the 4th round, owing to a moment of magic from Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Baggies are riding high in the Championship and I think they’ll have the blinkers on for promotion. As a result, I can see their cup run being ended by a United side whose only chance of silverware this season is the FA Cup.
Leicester City v Birmingham City
Leicester to win and both teams to score – 90 mins
I believe the FA Cup will be a welcome distraction from Leicester’s inconsistent league showing of late. However, form doesn’t change the fact that Brendan Rodgers’ side is packed with immense young talent, and I feel they will just have too much for this particular Birmingham City side.
I’m expecting a cathartic win from the Foxes that might just rekindle their league fortunes.
Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City
3-way handicap: Man City to win -2 goals – 90 mins
The league is all but out of sight for Man City, so they’ll be keen to hoover up all competitions still within their grasp; the FA Cup included.
Sheffield Wednesday will no doubt put up a brave defence, but I can’t see De Bruyne and co. having any issues in finding a way through.
Tottenham v Norwich City
Tottenham to win and over 2.5 total goals – 90 mins
As Spurs remain unconvincing without Kane and Son, calls for Mourinho to give Troy Parrott a chance are getting louder. The young Irishman must be champing at the bit to prove himself and I think this may well be a golden opportunity.
Norwich’s league struggles are there for all to see and while I believe they’ll put up a fight, I can’t see them turning their fortunes around in the Cup and I fancy Spurs to win, albeit unconvincingly.
Derby County v Manchester United
Man United to win 2-0 – 90 mins
Since his arrival from DC United, Wayne Rooney has been a key influence on and off the field at Derby County with some fans at Old Trafford wishing that he had come back to Manchester instead. The United legend will be keen to torment his old side as they visit Pride Park on Thursday evening.
However, since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, the Red Devils have looked much more convincing in possession and I see them making it an unhappy reunion for Wayne Rooney.