Norwich 0-2 Manchester United
Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal (After Extra Time)
Leicester 1-2 Chelsea
Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City
With home field all but neutralized, I’ve gone for all 4 of the away favorites, and the better teams, to advance to the FA Cup Semi-Finals. Manchester United have played 3 solid halves out of 4 since the season recommenced, while Norwich have lost both their home games against Southampton and Everton, completely sealing their relegation fate. Man Utd beat Norwich 3-1 and 4-0 in their 2 league meetings this season and have scored 2 or more goals in 8 of their last 13 games. They’ve also kept clean sheets in 10 of their last 13 fixtures in all competitions, while Norwich haven’t scored a goal since the season resumed.
Elsewhere, I have pegged Sheffield United vs Arsenal as the tightest game of the weekend, predicting that Arsenal will need 120 minutes to nudge past the Sheffield outfit. Arsenal lost both of their first 2 games after the resumption, but their bounce back with a win against Southampton is encouraging enough for me to take them over a Sheffield United team, who have unquestionably lost a step since March. Manchester City are the rightful FA Cup favorites, at very short price of 4/5. While I want no part of playing City to win the competition at those odds, I have no doubts they will have too much for Newcastle. Despite Steve Bruce’s desire to go far in this competition, I fully expect the Geordies to go no further after Sunday.
Game of the Week: Leicester vs Chelsea
The winners of 2015/16 EPL Champions take on the winners of 2016/17 EPL Season, with the teams currently sitting in 3rd and 4th place in the EPL. Leicester’s season has gone completely flat since they were smashed 4-0 by Liverpool back on Boxing Day. With their feint title hopes extinguished, they were then eliminated in the League Cup Semi-Finals by Aston Villa, and come into this Quarter-Final having picked up just 7 points from their last EPL 7 matches.
Chelsea have been consistently hit and miss over the season, but being a little more hit than miss has allowed them to remain in the EPL’s top 4, while also reaching this season’s FA Cup Quarter-Final, after beating a strong Liverpool outfit 2-0 in the last round. Chelsea have actually taken more EPL points on the road this season than they have home, with Lampard’s men holding the Premier League’s 3rd best away record. Therefore, they are unlikely to be phased by playing at an empty Walkers Stadium.
The combined 11 certainly makes for a strong line-up that could challenge for the Premier League, while also somewhat outlining the areas where both teams need to strengthen. However, with Chelsea’s superior stature, they’ve already invested over £100m in the transfer market for next season, while Leicester are likely to be trying to hold on to key players, such as Maddison, Chilwell and Ndidi.
Betting on goals may be the best bet way to bet this game, with Chelsea’s away games averaging over 3.5 goals per game this season. Over 2.5 goals, coupled with both teams scoring, has cashed in 74% of Chelsea’s away games this season and Chelsea have the second best scoring record on the road in the division – netting 31 times in 15 matches – while conceding 25 goals and keeping just 1 clean sheet.
The last 3 matches between the sides have all ended in draws, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4th in a row, however, Chelsea have great pedigree in this competition, and I’m leaning towards the West Londoners to find an extra gear and advance to the semis. Leicester’s form over the last 5 months is worrying, and a Semi-Final exit to Aston Villa in League Cup, doesn’t give me great confidence in the Foxes being able to get past Chelsea.
Score- Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2
Best Bets- Chelsea to Qualify @ 10/11 and Both Teams to Score @ 7/10