The FA Cup quarter finals this season promises to serve up plenty of drama with non league Lincoln City, just one match away from Wembley and the semi finals. Several big guns will be in the draw after Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur cruised through their ties.
Each tie should be entertaining with no replays at this stage for the first time. The matches will be settled at one ground with extra time and penalties if necessary. This certainly makes the draw interesting because there will be no room to rest players for the big boys.
Chelsea vs Manchester United
This is the stand out tie with Chelsea at home to the defending champions. Manchester United won’t roll over despite having Europa League football, the preceding Thursday.
Both sides have met at this stage before in 2013 and Chelsea snuck through after a home replay. This time however, United have to go to Stamford Bridge and try and settle this tie in normal tie otherwise, this one might go the distance.
Middlesbrough vs Huddersfield/Manchester City
Middlesbrough will be delighted with home advantage but are yet to know who they will be playing.
If get Manchester City then it will be tough. The good news is that Boro beat the Citizens in their last FA Cup meeting in 2015. They need to take heart from that day at the Etihad and transfer it to the Riverside over two years later.
With City’s Champions League tie with Monaco still in the balance, expect players to be rested ahead of their difficult trip to the Principality. Their defence is already inconsistent and at 5-3, they could still crash out of Europe on away goals if Monaco win 2-0. Should Pep Guardiola view Monaco as a higher priority for his squad, expect Boro to be slight favourites to progress to Wembley.
Should Huddersfield be the visitors, defeat isn’t an option but three EFL sides have come, saw and been vanquished at the Riverside so far in this cup run. Could the Terriers be an football league club too far?
The fact that the Teessiders have been drawn at home so far this season in the FA Cup will be welcome by fans but will need to improve after ropey performances against lower league opposition so far.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Millwall
This London derby is Tottenham’s to lose as long as they take Millwall seriously.
Spurs if beat Gent on Thursday, will still be in the Europa League and likely to rotate their squad. They will be keen to avoid the mistakes that were made at home against Wycombe in round four because Millwall are much tougher to recover from than the Chairboys.
The visitors already have three Premier League scalps in the form of Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester. Those three scalps came at the Den so can Neil Harris’ side take their form to White Hart Lane and complete a quadruple of Premier League victims?
Arsenal vs Lincoln City
What a tie this will be!! Lincoln City at Arsenal, who will be favourites to reach Wembley and the FA Cup semi finals.
Lincoln will go to the Emirates with no pressure on them and just enjoy the moment regardless of if they win or lose. The pressure will all be on Arsenal because defeat at home in the FA Cup Quarter Finals to a NON LEAGUE side will be unforgivable and potentially spell the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
The Gunners will surely look to avoid a repeat of last season when they suffered a shock home defeat at Watford in the quarter finals. Lincoln are a much more dangerous outfit than Watford and can cause a cupset here if Arsenal aren’t solid at the back.
The Imps have already seen off three sides above them in the footballing pyramid so should be considered a dangerous threat to Arsene Wenger’s hopes of another FA Cup.
All four ties will deliver plenty of drama so prepare for what could be a dramatic weekend if Boro*, Millwall and Lincoln do the unthinkable and dump out potential winners.
*If Boro have Man City.