Saturday, June 10, 2023

FA Cup predictions

Graham Fisher in Editorial, FA Cup 8 Jan 2011


Who will it be this season?

No Premier League this weekend as the focus switches to the famous, if slightly devalued, FA Cup. Some of the clubs may well rest some players and not take this as seriously as they do the league games, but there isn’t one team taking part in this weekend’s third round who wouldn’t love to be lifting the trophy at Wembley next May.

Let’s look at the games involving the top five and bottom five teams in the Premier League.


Arsenal v Leeds
Not so long ago this would have been a game between two of countries giants. Now it is a chance for Leeds to commit a giant-killing act. That doesn’t sound right but it would be a remarkable achievement if they were to get a result.

Arsenal are expected to rest Nasri, Wilshire and van Persie as well as maybe some others, but they have a strong squad and will still field a formidable side.

Leeds have made great progress under manager Simon Grayson, winning promotion from League One last season and sitting in the play-off places in the Championship this time around. The slightly worrying thing for them is that they are on a run of four without a win and anything less than top form could lead to a long afternoon.

Soccernews prediction: 3-0

Doncaster v Wolves
Wolves are fighting for their lives in the Premier League and two wins in their last three games against no lesser teams than Liverpool and Chelsea have seen them climb out of the bottom three for the first time in a while. They may see this game as something of an unwelcome distraction and with Mick McCarthy’s previous for naming a reserve side in games he doesn’t feel to be important, I wouldn’t expect too strong a Wolves side to take the field.

Doncaster have been described as the Arsenal of the lower leagues due to the pass and move football they always play under manager Sean O’Driscoll. They are a small club with very limited resources and it is remarkable that they manage to maintain a mid-table Championship position. They have won two of their last three games as well and will fancy their chances of causing an upset.

Soccernews prediction: 0-1

Hull v Wigan
This would have been a Premier League game between two pretty poor teams last season but, of course, Hull got relegated to the Championship. Now, it will be an FA Cup game between two pretty poor teams.

Wigan are second from bottom in the league and have won only once in their last nine games. I watched them in their defeat to Newcastle and it was one of the worst displays I have ever seen from a Premier League side.

Hull have not set the Championship alight although they are now sitting in mid-table after a very poor start. They have only lost once in their last ten outings but many of those games have been drawn.

Soccernews prediction: 0-1

Reading v West Brom
This is a game between two teams who have spent much time in both the Premier League and the Championship in recent years. At the moment, it is West Brom who go into the game as the ‘big’ team.

After looking as though they were more than capable of consolidating their top flight status earlier in the season West Brom have slipped to fifth from bottom and are on a horrible run. Their pitiful 3-0 defeat at Fulham last time out was their fifth defeat in a row.

Reading are threatening to make a serious attempt to get back to the Premier League this season and currently sit just outside the play-offs. They have lost just once in their last ten games and are particularly strong at home where they have lost only two of thirteen games.

I think this may be the best chance of an upset in these selected games.

Soccernews prediction: 2-1

Sheffield United v Aston Villa
Despite Aston Villa saying that manager Gerard Houllier is safe for the time being, this must be regarded as a big game in terms of his immediate future. In the drop zone for the first time in eight years, Villa haven’t won in four and for them, this game may come as a welcome relief from the pressure of the league.

Micky Adams has taken the manager’s hot seat at Sheffield United after Gary Speed left to take the Wales job. He has inherited a big problem. They are just one place outside the Championship drop zone and haven’t won in four. In those four games they have conceded thirteen goals.

Soccernews prediction: 0-2

West Ham v Barnsley
Avram Grant has a good record in the FA Cup and he will be hoping to continue that record in order to deflect criticism from West Ham’s league performances. They are rock bottom and after a promising run of games they came crashing back down to earth with a 5-0 horror show at Newcastle.

Barnsley have made something of a name for themselves as a team that Premier League sides don’t like to play. Chelsea and Liverpool fell foul of them a couple of years ago when Barnsley made it all the way to the semi-final. They are lower mid-table in the Championship and that is pretty good for a side who were predicted to struggle. They have only lost twice in their last nine games and will certainly give it a go.

Soccernews prediction: 2-1


Manchester United v Liverpool
There was a time when this would have been a game between two of the best sides in the league. Now it is a game between one of the best sides in the league and Liverpool.

I have no doubt that United will take the opportunity to rest some players but Fergie will want to beat Liverpool, make no mistake.

Liverpool and Roy Hodgson in particular, could hardly be more desperate for a win. The FA Cup is their only realistic chance of achieving anything this season and this game may be Roy’s last chance to keep his job.

Soccernews prediction: 2-0

Chelsea v Ipswich
A few weeks ago this game would have been an absolute home banker. It still is really but Chelsea’s run of one win in nine makes it a little more interesting.

Having said that, Championship Ipswich have just sacked their manager Roy Keane because of their desperate performances and their nineteenth place in the table when they were expected to challenge for promotion.

Soccernews prediction: 3-1

Leicester v Manchester City
Sven Goran Eriksson gets the chance to pit his wits against the club who he, and many others, thought unfairly sacked him after just one season at the helm.

Manchester City will certainly give a run out to some of their squad players as the league is definitely a far higher priority for them. Despite that, I would expect to see a rather more attacking performance from the country’s second placed club than we saw from them in the bore draw at Arsenal on Wednesday.

Leicester are four points away from the play-offs in the Championship but are on the verge of mounting a challenge for a top six place. They are a little up and down but had a good win over promotion chasing Swansea last time out.

Soccernews prediction: 1-3

Tottenham v Charlton
A London derby that would have been an all Premier League affair a few short years ago. Now, the two clubs could hardly be further apart.

Tottenham lost at Everton in midweek but that was probably a temporary blip in what has been a wonderful couple of seasons under Harry Redknapp. They are a formidable prospect at White Hart Lane and even if the likes of Gareth Bale are rested for this one, they will be red hot favourites.

Charlton have slid down to League One and manager Phil Parkinson was yet another to be sacked this week. They are in the play-off places but have fallen away after a great start. A 4-2 defeat at home to Swindon was the final straw for the club’s board. That was their sixth league game in a row without a win.

Soccernews prediction: 3-0


Graham Fisher



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12 years ago

Now that Hodgson’s out and it’s Kenny Dagleish’s first game in charge, they’ll be even weaker.. SO I’m thinking Man Utd, if they play well, should go to town on this one.

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