The coveted Emirates FA Cup returns post the global pandemic, which was responsible for the suspension of the English Premier League, among others. Since the resumption of the sport on June 17, there have been many developments in English top flight football, with Liverpool claiming their first English title in 30 years.
With the next available trophy being the FA Cup, teams like Manchester City, Norwich City and Arsenal will be relying heavily on their FA Cup successes to mar the accomplishments of the ongoing season. On this note, let’s have a look at the fixtures as the FA Cup enters the quarter-final stages:
Norwich City vs Manchester United (June 27, 10 PM IST)
Relegation candidates Norwich City kick off their FA Cup weekend against Manchester United. The latter have been in goal-scoring form after a late equaliser against Tottenham was followed by a 3-0 drubbing against Sheffield United in the league. Anthony Martial became the first Manchester United player since 2013 to score a hat-trick in the league, and the Red Devils will look to carry the same form into the FA Cup.
Meanwhile, Norwich have not been able to hang on to their early season form, and find themselves six points adrift of the relegation drop line. This has not been helped by their two losses since the 'Project Restart', and will want some respite before taking on Arsenal next week. However, they will need to be at their defensive best, having conceded seven goals while scoring just one in their two meetings in the Premier League this season.
Sheffield United vs Arsenal (June 28, 5:30 PM IST)
Sheffield United have been among the surprise packages of the season, going as high as fifth in the league table prior to the suspension of the league. Chris Wilder’s boys have been very compact defensively, hence finding themselves above their rivals on eighth. Their goalkeeper has the second most clean sheets in the league at 11. In his absence, Sheffield suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United last gameweek, but have a strong record against Arsenal this season, having won and drawn their games.
That being said, Mikel Arteta would like to do his best at winning the fans over by securing the FA Cup trophy, a competition in which Arsenal have shown great success in the past. The Gunners would like to build some momentum as they head into the final round of fixtures and finish as high as possible, preferably in contention for Europe. With a win over Southampton last time out, they moved up to ninth, just five points away from potential Champions League glory.
Leicester City vs Chelsea (June 28, 8:30 PM IST)
Frank Lampard’s project at Chelsea almost seems like a finished project, and was buoyed by the addition of Timo Werner next season. They have been in fine form since the restart, having won both their games, including a crucial encounter against Manchester City, which won Liverpool their Premier League title, with seven games to spare. They will look to continue the same form against Leicester City, who have surprised pundits yet again.
Brendan Rodgers has built his team quite well over the last couple of seasons, and this year, Leicester look primed to make their second Champions League appearance. They are currently placed on third, just a point more than Chelsea, and will look to get the better of Chelsea and win their first FA Cup title.
Newcastle United vs Manchester City (June 28, 11:00 PM IST)
The holders of the trophy, Manchester City, will look to capitalize on the absence of Premier League champions Liverpool and retain the FA Cup trophy for a second consecutive year. However, Newcastle United pose a tough threat in front of them in the quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Newcastle United look like a rejuvenated side under Steve Bruce and find themselves on 13th in the league table. They won and drew their last two matches since Project Restart. Their form against the 2018-19 Premier league champions has been patchy though, with Jonjo Shelvey scoring a late equaliser to ensure his side managed to draw the match. Newcastle fans will hope their team produces a much better outing this time round.
Note: All matches will be broadcast on SonyESPN and Sony Ten 2
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Oli Scarff