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Weekend Boxset: FA Cup quarter-finals 2021



Having shifted to midweek for the fifth round, the FA Cup returns to Saturday for the quarter finals. Can City be stopped from winning everything, or could there be a joker in this year's pack?


All times are UK (GMT)

Friday

FA Women's Super League: Arsenal v Manchester United
18.30 on BT Sport 2
With City and Chelsea pulling away at the top, this game is essentially a play-off for the third Champions League spot. Both sides have identical run-ins against sides below them in the table while Arsenal have an extra game against second from bottom West Ham. For Arsenal, winning their game in hand and winning here will be enough to close the gap against a United side that has already surpassed expectations for this season. The tempation for Casey Stoney could be to hold out for a draw to maintain their advantage in the table but having lost last month to Reading, it seems apparent that results in the remainder of the run-in may not be the formality they have been for the top sides in recent campaigns. United knicked the three points with the only goal of the game when the sides met in November, this time they will be without Tobin Heath who has returned to the Portland Thorns. GS


Saturday

FA Cup quarter-final: Bournemouth v Southampton
12.15 on BT Sport 1
Apparently this is called the New Forest derby, though i'm not sure if marketing has fully approved that one yet. With Southampton's focus for local beef being in the direction of Portsmouth, this game has never seemed to generate much in the way of intensity, but if a Cup quarter final doesn't get the blood pumping nothing will. In fairness though, both sides have, if not bigger, then other fish to fry. Bournemouth are rediscovering themselves under new manager Jonathan Woodgate and are still well placed to snatch a Championship play-off place. For Southampton, relegation is still a threat, having lost ten of their last twelve league matches. While things are definitely going to pot in the league, Ralph Hassenhuttl's side's progress in the Cup has been almost serene, getting to this stage by seeing off Wolves and the holders Arsenal without concedeing a goal in the competition. Bournemouth have never reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and have only got this far once before in 1957. A trip to Wembley might still be enough to convince the club to retain Woodgate beyond the end his contract this summer, even if they fail to return to the top-flight. GS


Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v Stuttgart
14.30 on BT Sport ESPN
Ever heard of the Südderby? Well, why should you? It's not a fixture of tremendous note outside of Germany, largely because of the massive gap in quality and league divisions between the two clubs in recent years. But a derby it is, one of the few for Bayern Munich, and this Südderby promises to be a cracker. We all know how awesome and full of goals, Bayern are but this season's Stuttgart are a treat to watch, bristling with young talent such as: Sasa Kalajdzic, Nico Gonzales and Silas Wamangituka who have netted 29 goals between them. The rookie coach, Pellegrino Matarazzo, has configured them to play to its strength and the result is a team, no longer weighed down by the pressure of its illustrious history. Granted, the Swabians are only in 8th so they're not that good but in view of Bayern's defensive weakness, I'd say they were set to take a healthy lead in this match, only to concede five in the second half. TD


FA Cup quarter-final: Everton v Manchester City
17.30 on BT Sport 1
If you have any concerns about Everton's approach to this game, you need look no further than the title of Carlo Ancelotti's 2009 autobiography Preferisco la Coppa - which translates as "I Prefer the Cup" - though it could also mean "I'd rather have ham". Despite recent defeats, Everton are having a great season and are well on course to qualify for Europe next season - for just the third time in a decade. But can he get the better of the man he succeeded at Bayern? City are unbeatean in seven FA and League Cup quarter-finals in Pep's five seasons in charge. City have found it easy enough to amass silverware domestically but their real target now is success in Europe. Today's Champions League draw sees them go up against Dortmund which looks very favourable but it also looks exactly like the sort of fixture City have tripped up on in the competition in recent years. The only side to stop City under Pep at this stage or beyond in domestic cups is Arsenal, which to me shows that to win you need to be a good side, but not necessarily that good. GS


Sunday

FA Cup quarter-final: Chelsea v Sheffield United
13.30 on BBC One
Two teams that are having two very different seasons meet and it looks like a home banker. Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea may play like they're on cruise control but they actually work bastard hard to dominate games the way they do. On Wednesday, they made their subjugation of Atletico Madrid look easy. But the constant counter-pressing is likely to be exhausting and the coach may be tempted to give more than a few first-teamers the day off for this match. Whether or not Sheffield United are in a position to capitalise on this is another question. Last Sunday, having lost their beloved coach Chris Wilder the day before, the bottom of the Premier League table side we're wretched against Leicester. Interim boss Paul Heckingbottom had the beginnings of a promising managerial career at Barnsley. But short ill-fated spells at Leeds and then Hibs put paid to that. However, the 43-year-old, promoted from the Under 23s, has the chance to restore his reputation if he can restore some of the Blades' sharpness. This match provides his beleaguered players with a free hit: a respite from the league against superior opposition. A good performance may provide a path to a better future. TD


FA Cup quarter-final: Leicester City v Manchester United
17.00 on BBC One
SInce their miracle in 2016, Leicester have been making a habit of reaching quarter finals in cup competiotions - they even did it in the Champions League. But in that time, of the six quarter finals they've reached they've only gone on to one semi - last's season's League Cup defeat to Villa. They've not reached the semi-finals of this competiton since the days Gary Lineker was starting to be a first team regular. The sides sit second and third in the table, comfortably in the Champions League places while maintaining a respectful distance from Man City. On paper you'd say an even encounter but If the Foxes but despite their recent successes they just just haven't been able to beat United - the last time they did David Nugent scored for them. Solskjaer's inscrutable team will undoubtably win something this season, though I suspect it will be the Europa League. GS


Ligue 1: Lyon v PSG
20.00 on BT Sport 1
Nerves are jangling at the top of Ligue 1. With Marseille the only team of the top nine to win last weekend, Lille remain three points clear of these sides despite being held to a goalless draw against fourth-placed Monaco. Lyon needed an injury-time equaliser from Zimbabwean striker Tino Kadewere to salvage a point at mid-table Reims while PSG lost to second-from-bottom Nantes, continuing a worrying trend for Les Parisiens: they've now lost their last three games that follow Champions League fixtures. Having led at half-time through a goal from Julian Draxler, the second half turned on a bizarre incident. Angel Di Maria left the game just after Nantes equalised and went straight down the tunnel. Afterwards it was reported that his home had been broken into while his families was inside. Thankfully everyone is OK and hopefully the drama will be confined to the pitch for this one. PSG face LIlle immediately after the international break and having battered them in the Coupe de France last week can feel they have it in their power to be top for the run in - until of course they get distracted again by the Champions League. GS


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry and Graham

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