Arsenal 1-2 Man United
If this was pre-Xmas, United would park the bus and not believe they could win at the Emirates. Now their best players are in form, playing attacking football more in line with their history. I loved how Unai Emery tactically out thought Chelsea last Saturday. For once we were the nut to crack, the opposition the ones with all the possession but passing sideways. In theory he should be able to tactically outsmart the less experienced Solskjaer. If the United boss keeps up the policy of having a cup keeper, at least De Gea won’t be an issue. Apart from that I think the Norwegian will name his strongest line up, knowing bringing the cup back to Old Trafford is his best chance of landing his job full time. I don’t always agree with Emery’s decisions and am worried he will over complicate things this Friday by resting to many star names.
Brighton 1-3 West Brom
In the last round Brighton were clinical on the break but can they employ those same tactics at home to a Championship side? Chris Hughton sets up his side to be organized but will he feel the need to take the initiative as the Premiership club? The Baggies are free scoring in their league and with the pressure off, their attack can enjoy themselves.
Man City 4-1 Burnley
Even if Pep feels for the sake of his title defence to save everyone for midweek, he can field two separate elevens and still win comfortably. Only chance of an upset is them being complacent. More likely they will be moaning afterwards how overly physical Sean Dyche’s men were. Talking of complaining, when you win 10-0 on aggregate, do you need to pick on Burton for the state of their pitch?
Newcastle 1-0 Watford
The Toon took thousands to a cold Blackburn on a midweek evening to watch a FA Cup replay, so these fans want Rafa to take it seriously. It’s head vs heart for the Spaniard. Rest everyone for midweek or make your long-suffering fan base happy. Watford are the best of the rest but as evidenced last weekend they need a striker.
Shrewsbury 1-2 Wolves
Wolves are a team who have zero reason not to try and win this cup. They are not going to get relegated or qualify for Europe so why not give it ago? I do wonder how some of their flair individuals will cope with the physicality of what lower league opposition can bring. It wouldn’t shock me if they got bullied. I think more press should be given to why their manager gets sent off by the same ref who allowed Klopp to run towards the halfway line. Or worse, why the FA act differently on the same crime?
Millwall 1-1 Everton
Everton struggle when they are favorites and like last weekend at Southampton can be bullied. That makes this a nightmare banana skin for Silva. He’s lacked the leadership to lift confidence. Sometimes, like his players, he looks scared. The Den can be intimidating so it wouldn’t shock me if the Toffees froze.
Wimbledon 1-3 West Ham
Like Wolves, no reason why West Ham can’t give the cup a real try. It sums up the Hammers that they follow up beating Arsenal with defeat at Bournemouth. Arnautovic is not ‘mentally right’ to play but you don’t need the likes of him for this type of game. This is where having a British spine will help.
Palace 1-0 Spurs
Sometimes you can play a team at the right time. Poche has limited numbers, so can’t rotate even if he wanted to. This is the type of tricky away day where Kane or Ali could provide that bit of magic to get you out of jail. They are unlucky these injuries coincide with Son at the Asia Cup. Losing a semifinal on Thursday piles the pressure on to win this trophy. Winning that penalty shootout would have been mentally massive for the rest of the campaign, helping then learn how to get over the line when the stakes are high. Do they have the leadership to believe they can win these kinds of ties without their best players?
Chelsea 2- 1 Sheffield Wednesday
I was really shocked Sarri attacked his players the way he did last Saturday. I didn’t put their loss at the Emirates down to a lack of desire or work rate, simply their tactics being wrong. Perhaps he feels in training they are not picking up his methods fast enough, but I still think he would have got to Monday morning regretting his outburst, an overreaction to a loss. In 4th place, days before a semifinal, favorites to win the Europa League, it seemed a bit early to call his players bluff, especially with their reputation of not playing once they fall out with their boss.