Black and White

We’re down to the final eight of the 2018/19 FA Cup. Once again the draw has been fairly kind to the neutrals and despite a relative lack of star power, there is still enough intrigue in the four ties. All four games are on television across the weekend so let’s take a look at each match we have to look forward to this weekend.

Watford vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 12:15, BT Sport)

There’s a little bit of needle in this one. As you might expect, Wilfried Zaha has been at the centre of the beef. A dive that upset Harry the Hornet was followed up by more alleged diving last season. When the two sides met earlier this season, Watford decided to kick Zaha from every angle which obviously upset him and Uncle Roy in the dugout. Can we expect more of the same here?

I expect Zaha will play as both teams would be stupid to rest players at this stage. Watford went to the extremes of resting several first-team regulars last weekend to be prepared for this. A fresh approach that won’t catch on, given Watford have made 11 changes for FA Cup matches this season. There are no replays so I expect both teams will go for it and I think this will be a good way to kick off the FA Cup weekend.

Swansea vs Man City (Saturday, 17:20, BT Sport)

This might not be much fun for Swansea. Man City have thrashed better teams than them this season. The thing is, such is the competition for places it doesn’t matter what team Man City put out. They’re all hungry to impress and earn their spot and that’s why poor old Rotherham shipped seven and Burton let nine go by. I don’t think it’ll be as bad as that but can you really see Swansea getting a result?

I can’t. Graham Potter might have done well in Sweden but he looks thoroughly uninspiring. Swansea have been afforded some reasonable draws to get this far but will be completely out of their depth here. It doesn’t do Swansea any favours that an international break follows this match – it’s not even as if Man City will have one eye on another match.

Wolves vs Man Utd (Saturday, 19:55, BBC)

This looks like the tie of the round. Wolves have been a revelation since being promoted. Granted it’s hardly an underdog story but you only have to look at Fulham to see how it can be done badly. Man Utd have been imperious since Solskjaer replaced Mourinho but there are signs that injuries are starting to take their toll. There’s no doubt Paris took a lot out of them and that showed in defeat at Arsenal on Sunday.

Romelu Lukaku is the latest to go down with an injury and Wolves will be sniffing an upset. It suits Man Utd more to play on the counter-attack which they can do away from home. I’m not overly sure Solskjaer needs this but he’ll be desperate to win every game. He’ll fall on his sword eventually but for now, it might be enough to seal a semi-final spot.

Millwall vs Brighton (Sunday, 14:00, BBC)

If the BBC have the highest profile tie at Molineux, they have the worst one by far to round off the weekend. Both sides are involved in relegation tussles in their respective divisions. The cup might be seen as a welcome distraction in some quarters or a nuisance in others.

Brighton have the stronger squad and I fully expect them to get the job done. Millwall bullied Everton back in round four but they’ll not be able to do that here. I don’t think anybody really expects Brighton to go down and Chris Hughton will relish a day out at Wembley. It’s a big deal and Hughton is as honest as the day is long. I think they’ll edge this one.

The semifinals will be with us before you know it. Just an international break and another round of league games then I’ll be back to preview the last four. Until then, happy cup weekend to you.