Have Manchester United gone backwards under Mourinho?

Manchester United’s season has been filled with ups and downs so far. Jose Mourinho’s side are trailing the top four by six points but do have two games in hand. As we know, they have already won the League Cup and remain on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League but their exit from the FA Cup to Chelsea crushed their hopes of a cup treble. Many United fans remain happy with the appointment of Mourinho but have they gone backwards since he took over last summer?

By comparing how they performed last season under Louis Van Gaal it is clear to see there have been a huge number of changes at United and with plenty of games still to come, their 2016/17 campaign still has a lot to unveil.

Premier League

Last season United missed out on the top four on goal difference. Although they qualified for Europe it wasn’t for the competition they were hoping for. They are 17 points off their total tally of 66 reached in the 2015/16 campaign but they do have 12 games left in the league, a possible 36 points to play for. If United were to win every game to the end of the season they could even be within a chance of winning the league, but the reality is their form has been too inconsistent, hence why they’ve been outside the top four for so long.

The Premier League has been fiercely competitive again this season and the race for a Champions League finish is being hotly contested by six teams. United have spent nearly £160 million since Mourinho took the job and he needs to improve on last year’s 5th-placed finish but at this stage of the season that is up in the air.

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FA Cup

The Red Devils won the FA Cup last season. Although cup competitions are luck of the draw, United will be disappointed not to have reached the semi-finals and another trip to Wembley. While it is very difficult to consistently win domestic cups, by not reaching the next round Man Utd have failed to equal their performance levels of last year’s FA Cup run.

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Europe

United are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Realistically this may be their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season and Mourinho will be aware he has two chances to get the club back in the mix with Europe’s elite. If United are to win this competition, that and the League Cup would be an obvious sign of progression at the club.

They can better last season’s performance in Europe, where they failed to make it out of their UCL group and were knocked out in the round of 16 in the Europa League.

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League Cup

Mourinho’s record in the competition speaks for itself. While it may be United’s only competitive silverware this season, it’s still a trophy worth winning. By comparison, there is a good chance that this trophy alone will see United end the season with more silverware than a number of their rivals and they improved on their League Cup performance from last season where they exited the competition in the fourth round.

There is still a huge amount of work for Mourinho to do at United to get the club back to the highest level and if he were to win the Europa League as well as a domestic cup that is undoubtedly a successful season. However, United will be at a standstill if they are to miss out on qualification for the Champions League again, with a single EFL Cup win a poor return for a team boasting that much quality under Mourinho’s leadership.

Is Mourinho making progress at Manchester United or are they going backwards?

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FA Cup Quarter-Final Predictions: Big guns to deliver, another tough Chelsea return for Jose’s United

The FA Cup quarter-finals take place over the weekend with six Premier League clubs battling for a spot in the semis. Middlesbrough host Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, while Arsenal face a non-league side once again in Lincoln City later on in the day. The remaining two games are spread over the following two days as Tottenham host League One side Millwall on Sunday and it’s another Chelsea return for Jose Mourinho with Manchester United heading to Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Read on for all four of our FA Cup quarter-final predictions…

Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester City

Middlesbrough had to wait to find out who their opponents were in the quarter-final due to City’s replay against Huddersfield. It’s fair to say Pep Guardiola’s side made light work of reaching the quarters at the second attempt with their 5-1 win. Boro will have to work extremely hard to progress here considering they have won just three games in 2017 but City will be aware all of those wins have come in the FA Cup. However, the depth of Guardiola’s squad should see them through comfortably this weekend.

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Arsenal 4-1 Lincoln City

Arsenal face their second non-league side in a row in the competition with the visit of Lincoln after the away side stunned Premier League outfit Burnley with an astonishing late winner in the previous round. Arsene Wenger simply cannot lose this game, the pressure has continually mounted on him this season and if he is to depart at the end of the campaign he will wish to do so with silverware. This is Arsenal’s last chance of a trophy this season and they should progress into the semi-final without too much difficulty.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Millwall

Spurs face off against League One side Millwall on Sunday afternoon in a game that is expected to be hotly contested both on the field and in the stands. Harry Kane comes up against another of his former clubs at which he spent time on loan and with the incredible form the Spurs striker is in it is difficult not to see him finding the back of the net once again. Dare we say there could be another Kane hat-trick at White Hart Lane?

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Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United (A.E.T)

This is clearly the standout fixture of the quarter-finals. Jose Mourinho endured an incredibly tough return to Stamford Bridge earlier in the season in that 4-0 loss and he will make sure his side are not humiliated again. This looks a tie likely to reach extra-time, since there are no longer replays in this round of the competition. The game is going to be a battle, United are without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Antonio Conte will be expecting his side to do what they’ve been doing all season and get the job done. Chelsea to edge it.

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United vs City: Are the Manchester clubs set for failure this season?

It’s no secret both Manchester Untied and Manchester City are not living up to the high expectations set by the fans, pundits and club in general so far this season. Both sides are currently outside the top four more than halfway through the domestic campaign, which is no where near where they expect to be, so are the two set for failure this season? Lewis Addley explores… 

Ten games into the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City things were looking like a foregone conclusion for the season ahead. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss looked to have bought his style of play to England with success, winning ten games on the bounce, but fast-forward to January and City are struggling in 5th place.

Things are not much different domestically for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United either. The Red Devils remain outside the top four and look a long way behind league-leading Chelsea.

Both clubs have reached the knockout stage in Europe, City in the Champions League and United in the Europa League, which surely will be the focus of their seasons respectively come the return of the competitions in a few weeks. United are on the brink of reaching the final of the League Cup, but that alone will not be enough to reduce the pressure on Mourinho, with more always expected of the Manchester giants.

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So are both of these clubs set for failure?

In a word, no. There are plenty of games for the league table to continue to change. But the competition for the top four is so intense that it is difficult, with current form in mind, to think both sides will make the cut. United had just began to pick up form but their consecutive draws suggest they’re still one step away from troubling the sides above them on a consistent basis.

City on the other hand seem to have no league form whatsoever, they’re fast becoming a side who look beatable from the off and Pep is going to have to change something. They’ve gone from having a powerful, tight backline to a nervy outfit who look like they will concede with every shot, something Claudio Bravo is picking up an unwanted affiliation for, having conceded the last six efforts on goal he has faced.

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As previously mentioned United are on track to reach the League Cup final but given the current nature of expectancy, that trophy alone is not enough for a title-chasing side. Both Manchester clubs are still challenging in the FA Cup, a tournament they are going to need to reach the latter stages in at least, such as the regard winning it is held in.

European action offers contrasting situations, City face PSG in the Champions League, while United drew Saint-Étienne in the Europa League. City’s performance last year was their best effort to date in the competition and given the strength of the sides they can pull in the latter rounds if they are to progress, winning it would be some feat, although not impossible given the quality of players available to Guardiola. 

United’s progression in the Europa League wouldn’t be something Mourinho is bothered by, if you’re to believe his stance on the competition, however winning it would guarantee them a place in the Champions League next season regardless of their league finish. With that in mind United have to take it seriously, no doubt they will.

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There is no doubt both Manchester clubs have the ability to win some silverware this season between them, but domestically it isn’t looking overly promising. With track-record in mind, many have been surprised with the struggles the two have endured in their first season. In the modern game transitional periods are becoming less and less acceptable, especially considering the amount of money that’s being spent on transfers. Perhaps not the first season of the Mourinho and Guardiola era their fans would have had high hopes for?

Is it too early for the word failure to be thrown around or have Mourinho and Guardiola not lived up to expectation so far? 

Chelsea legend looking to return following MLS spell

Former Chelsea, Arsenal and Roma left back Ashley Cole is hoping for a return to West London after his playing days come to an end in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy.

In an interview with Soccer AM, Cole revealed he is hoping to work in England after his spell in MLS, with Chelsea his preference: ‘I think I will probably look to go back one day and try to work. I want to work with something to do with Chelsea or scouting or kind of watching the young players develop. In a few years I’ll probably go back to England and try and find a job there.’

Chelsea fans won’t need reminding just how successful Cole was in his eight years at the club, where he arguably became the best left back in European football.

What would Cole bring to Chelsea as a coach?

So let’s have a look at what Ashley Cole could bring to Chelsea as a coach if he returns after his spell with LA Galaxy.

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Winning mentality

Cole is a winner, he has won 16 trophies in his career so far, with nine of those coming at Chelsea.

Chelsea honours:
Premier League – 2009/10
FA Cup – 2006/07, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12
League Cup – 2006/07
UEFA Champions League – 2011/12
UEFA Europa League – 2012/13
FA Community Shield – 2009

He played an integral role throughout Chelsea’s Champions League winning campaign in the 2011/12 season and scored a penalty in their shootout against Bayern Munich.

Cole’s four FA Cup wins with Chelsea give him a total of seven tournament wins overall, including his three at Arsenal. He currently holds the record for the player with the most FA Cup winning medals.

The former England international has won the Premier League three times, twice with Arsenal and he is only one of nine players to reach over 100 caps for the national side.

Defensive positioning 

Cole is renowned for his defensive positioning, notably his clearances off the line. Galaxy fans have already experienced this attribute, with Cole making an incredible goal-line clearance against New York Red Bulls in their last MLS outing, albeit play was eventually bought back for offside. The left back also netted his first goal for the club in the same tie.

Watch: Ashley Cole’s goal-line clearance vs RBNY, credit: LA Galaxy official YouTube.

The former Chelsea man made two game-changing goal-line clearances in their Champions League run in 2012, one against Barcelona and the other against Napoli, both of which probably stopped his side from being dumped out of the tournament they went on to win.

Attacking flare 

Many full-backs are criticised for being too attacking or one attribute overweighing the other, either great going forward and weak at the back or vice-versa. Cole possesses great forward play as well as his defensive quality, an area he would arguably be able to guide upcoming players in.

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In his 337 appearances for Chelsea, Cole netted seven goals and racked up 37 assists. His best scoring season came in their 2009/10 Premier League winning campaign, where he netted four goals, including an incredibly composed strike against Sunderland which saw him win Chelsea’s goal of the season award.

Discipline 

Cole has had his fair share of negative publicity throughout his career, but his discipline on the pitch is exemplary. In his 589 domestic career appearances he has received just five red cards, unfortunately for Galaxy fans two of those have come this season.

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Cole insisted he still has the desire to play on for a while yet and believes the current Galaxy side should be looking at nothing less than winning it all. But at 35 his playing days will soon come to an end and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him from there.

Will Ashley Cole return to Chelsea as a coach? Would this be good for the club?

FA Cup Final Preview and Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Competition: FA Cup Final –  Crystal Palace FC vs. Manchester United FC

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, May 21 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Crystal Palace 17/4 – Draw 12/5 – Man Utd 3/4

Match Preview

Crystal Palace take on Manchester United in the 2016 FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday in what is a huge game for both clubs after fairly disappointing league campaigns.

Palace finished the Premier League season in 15th place and lost three of their last four games, including a 4-1 loss to Southampton on the final day last weekend.

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However, Alan Pardew’s side have been excellent in the FA Cup. They beat Watford in the semifinal and also saw off the likes of Southampton, Stoke, Tottenham and Reading to reach the final.

A win on Saturday would see Palace win the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Their only previous final appearance came in 1990 and was incidentally also against Manchester United.

United won that final 1-0 in a replay after the side’s drew 3-3 in the original clash. Another tight affair is expected this weekend, though the Red Devils remain favourites.

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Louis Van Gaal may well be preparing for his final game as Manchester United manager, with speculation about his future not going anywhere.

The team will be solely focused on this game for now, though. They beat Bournemouth 3-1 in their final Premier League game on Tuesday night, which was rescheduled following last Sunday’s abandonment.

The lack of preparation time might affect the squad but they will still be expected to win in 90 minutes on Saturday evening.

They beat Sheffield United, Derby, Shrewsbury, West Ham and Everton to reach this stage and will now want to lift the FA Cup for the first time since 2004.

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Team News

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal has eight injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game. Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Will Keane all look certain to miss out, while Adnan Januzaj, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin are listed as doubts. Wayne Rooney will likely occupy a midfield position once again, with Marcus Rashford set to start in attack.

Crystal Palace have seven injury worries of their own. Kwesi Appiah, Marouane Chamakh, Brede Hangeland and Joe Ledley are all sidelined, while Connor Wickham, Yohan Cabaye and Wilfried Zaha are all 50/50 ahead of the final.

Key Points

Crystal Palace’s last five in all competitions: L/W/L/W/L

Manchester United’s last five in all competitions: W/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: United are unbeaten in six games against Palace, conceding just once in that time.

Key Player: Anthony Martial – The United striker has scored four goals and bagged two assists in his last four outings and is in the form of his season. He fired United into the final with his late goal against Everton and will look to shine at Wembley once again here.

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Score Prediction

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United – A low-scoring affair is expected between two sides that don’t tend to score too many. Palace have been in poor form and despite their strong run in the FA Cup, they are underdogs here and look likely to come up short. United have improved towards the end of the season but will need a trophy to feel satisfied, having missed out on the top four. United to win.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs West Ham

Competition: FA Cup Quarterfinal – Manchester United vs. West Ham

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, March 13 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Manchester United 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – West Ham 3/1

Match Preview

Manchester United host West Ham in a crucial FA Cup quarterfinal game on Sunday afternoon, with both sides eyeing a trip to Wembley if they can win here.

The Red Devils fell 2-0 to Liverpool in the Europa League on Thursday night, following on from Sunday’s 1-0 loss at West Brom in what has been another tough week for Louis Van Gaal.

United looked to be in good shape before the West Brom defeat, having won four on the bounce, but they are back under pressure and fans will be desperate to see them beat West Ham on Sunday.

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The Red Devils lost at home to Arsenal in the quarterfinals of last year’s FA Cup and will be desperate not to repeat that as they are just one game away from a Wembley appearance.

Manchester United’s FA Cup run: Third Round (H) – Sheffield United (1-0) – Fourth Round (A) – Derby County (3-1) – Fifth Round (A) – Shrewsbury Town (3-0) 

West Ham will arrive at Old Trafford in high confidence and will be out to upset the hosts in what should be an entertaining game.

The Hammers have won four in a row in all competitions and look to be in great shape. They have picked up impressive results against big clubs all year and will be out for another scalp in this one.

Slaven Bilic will be desperate for a trip to Wembley with his West Ham players. His side are unbeaten in six in all competitions and are a tough side to break down.

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These two sides played out a 0-0 draw in their Premier League meeting at Old Trafford in December and another close-fought battle is expected on Sunday.

West Ham’s FA Cup run: Third Round (H) – Wolves (1-0) – Fourth Round (A) – Liverpool (0-0) – Fourth Round Replay (H) – Liverpool (2-1 AET) – Fifth Round (A) – Blackburn Rovers (5-1) 

Team News

Manchester United have a number of injury worries ahead of this one. Juan Mata is suspended, while Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Ashley Young are all injured. Antonio Valencia and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are doubts but Jesse Lingard should return to the side after missing Thursday’s loss at Liverpool through suspension.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic will be without Sam Byram as the right-back is ineligible. James Tomkins and James Collins both remain out but they are the only injury worries for the Hammers. Victor Moses, Enner Valencia, Joey O’Brien and Winston Reid are all back from injuries and will be in contention.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/L/L

West Ham United’s last five in all competitions: D/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Manchester United are unbeaten in ten games against West Ham (W6 D4).

Key Player: Dimitri Payet – The West Ham playmaker has been sensational this season. He has notched four goals and four assists in his last five games and looks to be in the best form of his campaign. If United fail to contain him, the Hammers will likely emerge victorious.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 1-1 West Ham – This should be a really tight battle between two clubs desperate for a trip to Wembley. United’s form has dipped again off the back of a poor week and West Ham are not the sort of side they will be able to outplay. The Hammers look sharp and will expect to earn a replay at the very least.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Watford

Competition: FA Cup: Quarter-Final – Arsenal vs. Watford

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, March 13 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Arsenal 1/2 – Draw 100/30 – Watford 5/1

Match Preview

FA Cup holders Arsenal host Watford at Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon as they continue the defence of their title by seeking a return to Wembley for the third successive season.

The Gunners booked their place in this quarter-final tie after a comprehensive display in the fifth round replay away at Hull City in midweek as they thrashed the Championship outfit 4-0.

Arsene Wenger’s side consequently ended a run of five straight games without a win in all competitions, which included a goalless draw with Hull at home that forced the replay.

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Arsenal came from 2-1 behind to snatch a draw in the North London derby with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the Premier League last weekend, despite only having ten men, so they’ll be hoping they’ve turned a corner, following that poor run of results.

Watford edged a 1-0 victory at home to Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round three weeks ago, but haven’t managed a win in any of their three Premier League games since then, failing to score in any of them.

A goalless draw with Bournemouth and 1-0 defeats to Manchester United and Leiecester are a minor blip in what has otherwise been an excellent season for the Hornets.

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Quique Sanchez Flores has steered his side to within three points of the 40-point mark, which is regarded as the amount required to guarantee Premier League safety, meaning they can focus on this tie without being concerned over a relegation battle.

The last meeting between these two sides saw Arsenal run out as comfortable 3-0 winners in a Premier League clash at Vicarage Road back in October.

Team News

Arsenal defenders Per Mertesacker (head) and Gabriel (muscular) both went off injured in midweek but should be passed fit to play. Aaron Ramsey (muscular) also limped off and may not be risked. Laurent Koscielny (calf) is almost back to full fitness but Sunday’s game could come too soon. Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh) and Carl Jenkinson (knee) all remain out.

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Watford defenders Miguel Britos (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knock) and Joel Ekstrand (fitness) are all doubts for this one, while midfielder Jurado (calf) is also yet to recover from injury.

Key Points

Arsenal’s last five in all competitions: L/L/L/D/W

Watford’s last five in all competitions: W/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: Arsenal haven’t lost to Watford since April 1988 – the Gunners have since won all six meetings between the two sides, scoring 16 and conceding five goals in the process.

Key Player: Joel Campbell – The Costa Rican was instrumental in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Hull in midweek, so he’ll be hoping he’s done enough to earn a starting berth for this quarter-final tie. You get the feeling that Campbell could have a big future with the Gunners and he could be the difference on Sunday.

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Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-1 Watford – This should be a very tight game. Quique Sanchez Flores has drilled his Watford team to be very organised defensively, so it won’t be easy for the Gunners to break them down and they’ve also got an offensive threat in Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. However, Arsenal’s win over Hull will have given them a big boost and they’ll be desperate to keep their hopes alive of becoming the first team to win three successive FA Cup’s since 1886.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Shrewsbury vs Manchester United

Competition: FA Cup: Fifth Round – Shrewsbury Town vs. Manchester United

Venue: Greenhous Meadow Stadium – Monday, February 22 – 19:45 GMT (14:45)

Match Odds: Shrewsbury 7/1 – Draw 18/5 – Man Utd 2/5

Match Preview

Shrewsbury host Manchester United in a proper FA Cup tie on Monday night, with both sides looking to book their place in the quarterfinals of the competitions with a win here.

Shrewsbury are struggling near the bottom of League One, sitting just three points above the relegation zone, but will undoubtedly be fired up for the visit of Manchester United on Monday night.

The Blues have enjoyed their FA Cup run so far, making it from the first round to the fourth with victories over Gainsborough Trinity, Grimsby Town, Cardiff City and most recently Sheffield Wednesday. But Manchester United are the biggest side they have faced this season and a big performance will be needed.

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The prospect of facing United has been made slightly better by the fact that the Red Devils have lost back-to-back games to Sunderland and FC Midtjylland, piling pressure back onto Louis Van Gaal and his players.

United travelled to Denmark to play Midtjylland on Thursday night and will need to hope they are not fatigued from that trip. Defeat to Shrewsbury here would probably go down as the worst result of their season and could see Van Gaal axed, with reports still suggesting Jose Mourinho is being lined up to come in before the end of the season.

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This will be the first-ever meeting between Shrewsbury and Manchester United. There are 56 places between the two clubs and so this will be a proper FA Cup clash.

Key Points

Shrewsbury’s last five in all competitions: L/W/L/D/W

Manchester United’s last five in all competitions: W/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: Shrewsbury have the second-worst home record in League One, having picked up just 11 points from 15 league games at Greenhous Meadow.

Key Player: Larnell Cole – The Shrewsbury striker will look to be a thorn in the side of his former employers here, should he start, and has a real point to prove.

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Score Prediction

Shrewsbury 1-1 Manchester United – This should be a foregone conclusion but United have been awful of late and are really struggling to pick up wins. Shrewsbury will be fired up for this clash and have had an extra week’s rest. A home win looks unlikely but the League One side could do enough to earn a replay at Old Trafford.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace

Competition: FA Cup: Fifth Round – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace

Venue: White Hart Lane – Sunday, February 21 – 15:00 GMT (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Tottenham Hotspur 8/13 – Draw 14/5 – Crystal Palace 19/4

Match Preview

Tottenham welcome London rivals Crystal Palace to White Hart Lane in an FA Cup clash to savour on Sunday, with a place in the quarter-finals of the competition at stake.

Spurs are enjoying an incredible season and are genuine title contenders at this stage. They have the chance to strengthen their chase for three major trophies with a win here, but there will be question marks over their consistency as a trip to Fiorentina on Thursday may play a factor in Sunday’s performance.

This is a crucial part of the season for Spurs. They are already further in the FA Cup than they managed last year and fans would be forgiven for dreaming of an incredible domestic double.

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A few first team players were benched on Thursday and so we’re expecting changes from Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham’s 2016 FA Cup run: 3rd Round: Leicester (H) 2-2 – Leicester (A) 2-0 (replay) – 4th Round: Colchester (A) 4-1

Former Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor will return to White Hart Lane for the first time since leaving with Crystal Palace here. Make what you will of what that means, but we’re expecting emotions to run high.

Palace are struggling for form. They haven’t won in the Premier League since December and have only won once in their last seven. That’s simply not good enough for a side that was threatening the top four earlier in the season.

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They have, however, seemingly been good in the cup and could still qualify for European football if they can reach the final of this year’s FA Cup. They won’t need any more incentive to win on Sunday, though, with a trip to London rivals Spurs enough motivation for the Eagles.

Crystal Palace’s 2016 FA Cup run: 3rd Round: Southampton (A) 2-1 – 4th Round: Stoke City (H) 1-0

Tottenham have already completed a league double over their London rivals this season, with the most recent meeting coming just a month ago. Spurs came from behind to win 3-1 at Selhurst Park, with Dele Alli’s wonder-goal making the difference.

Team News

Tottenham Hotspur are expected to rotate the side that played in Florence on Thursday night, with the highlight changes likely to come at full back as Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are both expected to return. Tom Carroll, Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N’Jie are all out and Hugo Lloris is unlikely to feature as he is battling a minor shoulder injury.

Crystal Palace could see Yannick Bolasie, Joe Ledley and Dwight Gayle all return following minor leg injuries. James McArthur and Jason Puncheon are yet to be given return dates.

Key Points

Tottenham Hotspur’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/W/D

Crystal Palace’s last five in all competitions: L/W/L/D/L

Key Stat: Spurs have only lost once in their last 14 matches in all competitions.

Key Player: Emmanuel Adebayor – Say what you will about the big Palace striker but he has a habit of proving to be a match-winner in big-game situations and it wouldn’t surprise us if he produces some magic against his former club here. If Palace are to win, he will be the catalyst on Sunday.

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Score Prediction

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Crystal Palace – Although Palace have already dispatched of Premier League opposition twice in this year’s FA Cup, we’re not expecting the third outing to be as fortunate. This is a well drilled and talented Tottenham team and it would take something special to beat them on Sunday in the form they’re in.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester City

Competition: FA Cup: Fifth Round – Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Sunday, February 21 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 17/20 – Draw 13/5 – Manchester City 3/1

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon in the standout fixture in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The Blues suffered a midweek setback in the Champions League, losing 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in what was their first loss since Guus Hiddink stepped in as interim boss.

Chelsea have been building steadily but this is going to be a tough task for Hiddink’s side. They do have a good chance of progressing, given the fact Manchester City will have one eye on their upcoming Champions League tie and are struggling with injuries.

The current Premier League champions will want to avoid a draw at all costs as they have struggled away to City and so progressing on Sunday will be essential if they are to reach the quarterfinals.

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Manchester City, as mentioned, will have an eye on their upcoming fixtures. They are still in the title race despite consecutive league losses and will also expect to progress deep into the Champions League.

They come into this one off the back of a 2-1 home loss against Spurs, one which would have been hard to stomach given that it has further dented their title ambitions.

Manuel Pellegrini will be taking this tie seriously but has already hinted that he will be resting some of his superstars.

Chelsea and Manchester City have played out some entertaining games in recent times and this could be an FA Cup classic, with both sides showing defensive frailties.

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Match Facts

Chelsea’s last five in all competitions: W/D/D/W/L

Manchester City’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/L/L

Key Stat: Chelsea have lost their last four FA Cup clashes with Manchester City and have only once beaten them in the competition. That sole win came 101 years ago, almost to the day (February 20, 1915).

Key Player: Oscar – The Brazilian playmaker has been in good form of late and will hope to heap more misery on a Manchester City side in poor form with his attacking play here.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City – This is going to be a tight tie. Chelsea have been far more consistent since Hiddink’s arrival and despite their midweek loss against Paris they attacked well in stages. The FA Cup is Chelsea’s best chance of silverware this season, though it will be a tough task for them to go all the way. Manchester City’s confidence has been rocked after losing to their title rivals two weeks on the bounce at home – this is a good chance for them to pick back up and restore some confidence ahead of their upcoming fixtures. If Pellegrini does rest some of his key faces it will be a chance for the fringe players to show what they’re made of and attempt to heap more misery on Chelsea.