Four teams remain in this season’s FA Cup after the quarter-finals this weekend. For the fourth season in a row, all the semi-finalists are involved in England’s top flight and can therefore reasonably claim that they have the quality to reach the final. Here is a rundown of the contenders for England’s major cup competition. You can bet here.
Semi-final opponents: Brighton
Why? Pep Guardiola’s outfit are the clear favourites to lift the trophy. They have scored 19 goals in four games en route to Wembley, where they have already twice lifted silverware this season. The FA Cup is just one of three titles for which they are still in contention.
Why not? For all their success this decade, the Citizens have not reached the FA Cup final since 2011, when they defeated Stoke to win their first trophy in their new era. They survived a scare against Swansea in the last round, where they progressed thanks to two poor decisions from officials, and were eliminated by League One side Wigan last season. The semi-final also comes at the start of a crucial run of fixtures, and it would be understandable if Guardiola’s priorities lay elsewhere.
Semi-final opponents: Watford
Why? Despite having only been promoted to the Premier League this season, the Black Country side have a real claim to be the best team in England outside of the established Big Six. They have already beaten Liverpool and Manchester United during their cup run and have proven this season that they are not fazed by big occasions.
Why not? Wolves have not won a major cup competition since 1980 and last reached the FA Cup final in 1960. They have already lost to all of the other semi-finalists in the league this term, while they have been inconsistent away from Molineux.
Semi-final opponents: Wolves
Why? Besides Manchester City, the Hornets are the best established remaining team in the Premier League, where they have enjoyed almost four seasons to become accustomed to a high level of opposition. Whilst in recent years their season has started strongly before slowing down, it seems that in Javi Gracia they have found a manager capable of maintaining consistency across the whole campaign.
Why not? Gracia’s men have not kept a clean sheet in their last five games and will need to rediscover their defensive steel. They have lost on both of their visits to the new Wembley Stadium, most recently in the 2015/16 FA Cup semi-finals, while their results in big matches this season have been poor to say the least.
Semi-final opponents: Manchester City
Why? Brighton are currently enjoying their best spell of the season with three wins in five matches. They fought back from 2-0 down to draw with Millwall in the quarter-finals before they overcame another setback in the ensuing penalty shootout to triumph. If they can get past Manchester City in the semi-finals, they certainly won’t fear their opponents in the final.
Why not? Since gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2017, the Seagulls have lost all three of their matches against Manchester City, who are on a currently enjoying a run of 18 wins in 20 matches. Chris Hughton’s team have also only won two of their last ten matches away from the Amex Stadium in 90 minutes, losing five.