Mark Young picks out and predicts the scores of some of the key matches in what promises to be a fascinating FA Cup weekend…
Arsenal 3-0 Hull City
Fresh from their last-gasp victory against Leicester City on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal host Hull City in the FA Cup at the Emirates.
Danny Welbeck kept Arsenal alive in the title race last weekend as his glancing header defeated the Foxes in the Premier League, but Championship pace-setters Hull City stand in Arsenal’s way in the FA Cup.
The Gunners are looking for a hat-trick of FA Cup triumphs after previously going ten years without a trophy, but the elephant in the room on Saturday will be their upcoming Champions League tie. A certain Barcelona side are coming to town next week and Arsene Wenger has to try and find a way to keep Messi, Neymar and Suarez all quiet – so it would be understandable if he hasn’t been giving Hull his full attention.
This is a repeat of the 2014 FA Cup final, but this one may not be quite as close and – despite Messi and co looming in Arsenal’s future – it could be a stroll for the Gunners due to Hull concentrating on a return to the Premier League next season.
Bournemouth 1-2 Everton
Bournemouth host Everton at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday evening in what could be a very memorable cup clash.
The last time these two sides met down on the South Coast there were six goals, with the majority coming closer to the full-time whistle than not.
With players expected to be rested this time around there may not be the same level of drama, but the up and down nature of the two side’s form could keep us glued for the full 90 minutes.
Everton had looked to be back in form until West Brom came to Merseyside last weekend, with the Toffees coming unstuck in a 1-0 loss.
The Cherries, meanwhile, have lost their last two games (at home against Arsenal and Stoke City) and Everton could find them ripe for the picking.
Blackburn Rovers 0-2 West Ham United
Blackburn Rovers welcome West Ham United to Ewood Park in one of the FA Cup’s Sunday afternoon kick-offs.
Slaven Bilic’s side scraped through to the fifth round with a last-gasp extra-time winner from Angelo Ogbonna against Liverpool last time out.
Blackburn should be a test for the Hammers, as the Lancashire club have started life after Jordan Rhodes in relatively positive fashion. The striker’s departure led to fears that it could only be downhill from here, but four points and only one defeat in the three games since his departure has been a boost for Rovers.
Despite Blackburn’s improved form, West Ham have been one of the positives of the Premier League season and the sixth round could beckon for the Hammers with Dmitri Payet expected to take centre stage once again.
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City
Chelsea face Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, fresh from a solid performance in Paris on Tuesday night.
The home side managed to grab an away goal against PSG and can now turn their attention to this cup match – one of the ties of the round.
Manchester City have lost two games in a row in the league and have gone from title favourites to fourth place in just eight days. On top of that, City have to travel to Ukraine for the Champions League next week and may have that on their minds.
Three losses in a row may not be what the Citizens would have in mind going into the knockout phase of Europe’s premier competition, but Chelsea will be keen to continue their momentum under Guus Hiddink.
Everybody’s ‘favourite’ pantomime villain, Diego Costa, could be the key. He has been in fantastic goal-scoring form once again and could send City packing in a tight Sunday fixture.
Shrewsbury Town 0-2 Manchester United
The biggest FA Cup upset of the weekend could happen at Greenhous Meadow on Monday night, when injury ridden Manchester United travel to face Shrewsbury Town.
The Shrews have been fantastic in the cup so far this season, and upsetting Sheffield Wednesday in round four awarded them a huge home match against Manchester United.
It hasn’t been a great week for Louis van Gaal who rebounded from defeat against Sunderland by losing Wayne Rooney for six weeks and then succumbing 2-1 against Midtjylland (who?!) on Thursday in the Europa League.
Shrewsbury lost their top goal0scorers in January, but should still provide a threat. However, this is a fixture that even Louis van Gaal’s side shouldn’t be able to mess up, so the shock searchers may have to look elsewhere.
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