It’s been a long and winding road leading up to this moment in this season’s FA Cup campaign, and the end is in sight. Unsurprisingly, the last eight is made up predominantly of sides in the top flight, though some big names have still missed out. League 1’s Wigan have found themselves amongst the remaining candidates and realistically could make it through to the semis.
For United, however, this marks Jose’s last chance at silverware for the season. Rivals Manchester City haven’t yet officially clinched Premier League glory, but they will most likely do so in the coming weeks. Here are all the games for the quarter-finals of the 2017/18 FA Cup:
Manchester United vs Brighton
The less said about Tuesday’s shock at the hands of Sevilla the better. Jose came under heavy fire in the wake of that car crash of a performance and rightfully so. The side looked a mere shadow of its former self after the relatively commanding performances of recent weeks, including the 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend – not due to the fault of the players.
A questionable starting 11 as well the more conservative style of tactics Mourinho opted for resulted in United’s departure from the Champion’s League, changing the tide in terms of United fans’ support of the gaffer’s managerial decisions. Tensions had been bubbling under the surface throughout the season, but Tuesday’s game was the final straw for many who think Jose is nowhere near getting the best out of his team.
However, Saturday is another game, and Jose has the chance to win fans back with semi-final football up for grabs.
United are no strangers to FA Cup glory, having lifted the trophy under Van Gaal in 2016 against Crystal Palace. Although, the Red Devils are much better equipped under Mourinho, and a second FA Cup trophy in three years is certainly doable.
United overcame Huddersfield in the fifth round, taming the Terriers in a 2-0 win at home, while Chris Hughton’s men beat Coventry City 3-1 to make it to the quarter-finals.
Paul Pogba could return to the starting 11, he made an appearance off the bench against Sevilla following a recent injury. His creativity in the middle of the park certainly won’t go amiss.
Injuries to Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones means that Eric Bailly could start his third game in a week. I’m sure fans won’t be disappointed by this news, but Victor Lindelof is available on standby in case Mourinho thinks it might be too much for the Ivorian, considering he’s only just come back from a three-month injury absence.
In terms of the rest of the squad, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial could both return to the starting lineup. Their places were occupied by Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard in midweek.
Realistically, this game is make-or-break for Jose. A win could put United’s season back on track – at least in terms of what they can actually win at this stage – but a loss could be the final straw, causing fans to finally turn on their ‘Chosen One’.
Swansea vs Spurs
In the other of Saturday’s games, Swansea host Tottenham Hotspur at the Liberty Stadium.
The Swans have lost just two games in their last 16 since the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal in December, beating both Arsenal and Liverpool in the process.
Swansea beat the Championship’s Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in fifth round replay at home thanks to goals from Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer, reaching the side’s first FA Cup quarter-final since 1964.
Meanwhile, Spurs have enjoyed an impressive 2018 so far, claiming more points than any other side in the Prem, being beaten just once in all competitions.
However, Poch will be without star man, Harry Kane, as the 24-year-old suffered serious ligament damage against Bournemouth on the weekend. Heung Min Son could start up top, he netted twice in the side’s recent visit to the south coast.
Leicester City vs Chelsea
The first of Sunday’s matchups sees Antonio Conte’s Chelsea visit the King Power Stadium to challenge Claude Puel’s Leicester City.
Leicester have lost just once in their last six games in all competitions, that being a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City. However, the Foxes beat Sheffield United 1-0 in the fifth round and West Brom in their latest league game.
Chelsea, on the other hand, also were knocked out of the Champion’s League in midweek at the hands of Barcelona. Despite an admirable display, Conte’s men failed to get the better of Barca, two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Ousmane Dembele proving too much for the Blues.
Claude Puel has an almost entirely fit squad at his disposal, while Conte could field a much more refreshed side on the weekend, given that some players may feel the impacts of their recent draining fixture against Barca.
Wigan Athletic vs Southampton
Finally, the last of this weekend’s quarter-finals sees Wigan Athletic host Premier League relegation strugglers, Southampton.
The biggest underdog story of the FA Cup so far has been Wigan’s toppling of Premier League leaders Manchester City, in a 1-0 win in the fifth round. Will Grigg was on fire that night, Pep’s defence being terrified in the process.
Meanwhile, Southampton haven’t won a game since their 2-1 triumph over West Brom to make it to the quarter-finals, resulting in the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino.
The Saints have since appointed former Stoke boss Mark Hughes as their manager, as the Welshman hopes to start his tenure at the club in winning fashion.