Cup action returns following the success of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ campaign. We look at the state of play in the FA Cup and what to expect.
When is the FA Cup returning?
On May 29th, chief executive of the Football Association, Mark Bullingham announced the FA cup will return on the last weekend of June. This was following announcements made by the Government on the pandemic. Saturday 27th June marks the return of the prestigious cup competition, the FA Cup. The first game sees Manchester United travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City at 5:30 pm GMT. The action continues on Sunday 28th June, where Sheffield host Arsenal at 1:00 pm, whilst Chelsea travel to Leicester for the 4pm kick-off. The quarter-finals conclude with former Premier League champions’ Manchester City playing Newcastle at St. James Park at 6:30 pm.
How are these games being scheduled?
The quarter-final round of the FA cup will be played coinciding with the Premier League fixtures taking place on the same weekend. Whilst the Premier League will have games’ played multiple days throughout the weeks remaining of the competition, the FA Cup semi-final will be played on Saturday 18th July and Sunday 19th July. They will play the Final on 1st August, given the circumstances around COVID-19, these dates remain provisional until given government approval. The demanding schedule surrounding the English competitions will leave teams looking to use squad rotation more frequently, meaning the FA Cup could see opportunities given to the youth players of clubs still in the competition, highlighting the magic of the FA Cup remains.
Are FA Cup teams playing at their own stadiums?
The games for the quarter-final stage will take place at the stadiums of the team drawn at home for each game, copying the Premier League behind closed doors format. However, the venues for the semi-finals and the final are to be confirmed. The traditional venue of the Iconic Wembley Stadium may not play host to the semi-finalists and the finalists, despite this venue details are still to be released.
What time will kick off be in the FA Cup?
Manchester United travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City at 5:30 pm BST. The action to be continued on Sunday 28th June where Sheffield host Arsenal at 1:00 pm BST, Chelsea travel to Leicester for the 4 pm kick-off. The quarter-finals conclude with current Premier League champions’ Manchester City playing Newcastle at St. James Park at 6:30 pm.
What is the state of play in the FA Cup?
The remaining 8 teams in the competition all compete in the top tier of English football, the English Premier League. These teams have joined the competition in the third round. Manchester United 5th in the Premier League table faced off against a tough Wolves team that held United to a 0-0 draw. The replay at Old Trafford ended differently however, Juan Mata scored in a 1-0 for the Red devils to send them through to the 4th round against League 2 side Tranmere Rovers. United put 6 past a Tranmere side that could not match the ability of Manchester United’s play and the difference in quality was clearly shown on the day.
Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney got a dream fixture against the club where his legacy flourished. Manchester United played Derby County away from home and won the game 3-0 comfortably with a volley from Luke Shaw in the first half, followed by a brace from January loan signing, Odion Ighalo who has settled into life at Manchester United quickly.
Their opponents Norwich City took on Preston North End in the 3rd round, beating them 4-2 with help from a hat-trick from Norwich’s 19-year-old prodigy Adam Idah. They beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor before recording a momentous win against Tottenham Hotspur on Penalties at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Sheffield United have had an easier run than most teams, beating AFC Flyde 2-1, Millwall 2-0 and Reading 2-1. Sheffield United have come on leaps and bounds this season make it this far in the FA Cup and fighting for a place for European football in the Premier League, not bad for a newly promoted side. Arsenal has also had an easier run-in of games in the FA Cup this season, beating the likes of Portsmouth, Leeds, and Bournemouth. 4 out of the 5 goalscorers for Arsenal in the FA Cup this season have been academy graduates, with Reiss Nelson netting against Leeds, Emerging talent Bukayo Saka grabbing a goal against Bournemouth, and marksman Eddie Nketiah grabbing 2 more in the competition.
Leicester City had to overcome 3 championship sides in the previous rounds of the competition, playing Wigan Athletic, Promotion chasing Brentford and Birmingham City. The 2015/16 Premier League champions dismantled all 3 teams, showing why they are currently sat in the top 4 bracket of the Premier League table. With the enormous game against Chelsea, they will be without fan-favourite Ricardo Pereira, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season following damaging knee ligaments in March.
Chelsea will see this as wonderful news, as they reach this stage of the competition after knocking out Premier League front runners and soon to be champions, Liverpool FC. The game in which the young central midfield prodigy Billy Gilmour put on a dazzling display on his debut. They too have had to face championship sides in the 3rd and 4th round of the FA Cup. Playing Nottingham Forest in a 2-0 win, before beating Hull City 2-1 away from home.
The final 2 teams and the last teams to play in the quarter-final action are Newcastle United and Manchester City. Newcastle have played 2 games which resulted in replays so far this season, initially drawing against Peterborough and Oxford United, before beating them. In their most recent game, they beat West Brom in a 3-2 victory which saw Miguel Almiron grab 2 goals, taking his total tally to 4 in the competition. Manchester City have scored 9 goals in the competition this season, the second most currently still in the competition to their Neighbours and city rivals, Manchester United who have scored 10.
A straight forward run for the champions who beat Port Vale 4-1, which will be marked by Port Vale’s Tom Pope’s goal as he stated on his twitter page prior to the game he would “Love to play against John stones, I’d score 40 a season!” It has been an easy road for City to the quarterfinals, but they will have to overcome a Newcastle side that hasn’t lost a game since the restart.
What have been the talking points in FA Cup this season?
- Aston Villa and Brighton both exited at the first hurdle in the FA Cup, losing to Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday respectfully. There are always upsets in the FA Cup, with the 2 teams fighting in the relegation battle at this present moment in time, exiting early was the main talking points of the 3rd round.
- Liverpool FC, a borderline unstoppable force this season in the Premier League and bookies favourite to win the competition were knocked out by Chelsea in the 5th round, courtesy of a wonder goal by Ross Barkley to seal the game at 2-0.
- Adam Idah became the youngest player in Norwich City history to score a hat-trick at the Professional level at 18 years old. This came in a 4-2 hammering of Preston North End. One player to monitor for the future.
- Ricky-Jade Jones became the 9th youngest player to score a goal in the FA Cup since its establishment in 1871. His goal came in a 2-0 win for Peterborough against Stevenage.
Who are the top players in the FA Cup this season?
- Harry McKirdy (Carlisle) The leading goalscorer in the FA Cup this season, despite Carlisle exiting the competition in the 3rd round in a 4-3 loss to Cardiff City. McKirdy has 5 goals and 1 assist in 313 minutes of football, meaning he averaged a goal every 63 minutes which is absurd at any level of competition. Whilst, not a household name, McKirdy has definitely held his own during this FA Cup campaign.
- Adam Idah (Norwich City) Already mentioned a handful of times in this FA Cup review but what this young center-forward has accomplished in such little game time at Norwich is mesmerizing. Scoring a hat-trick at 18 years of age in the most historic club competition in English football is something worth shouting about. Next up for him is a game against 12-time winners of the FA Cup, Manchester United, and all eyes will be on this youngster to see if he can produce against the big guns left in the competition.
- Ross Barkley (Chelsea) The Englishman has not been a consistent starter for Frank Lampard at Chelsea, but this FA Cup campaign has helped give fresh life to Ross Barkley’s career. He has contributed to a goal or assist every game he’s played in. Including a Man of the Match performance against run-away Premier League leaders’ Liverpool. Chelsea fans will hope his run of form in the FA Cup this year will continue and help bring a 9th FA Cup to Stamford Bridge.
- Victor Lindelof (Manchester United) Manchester United are the only team left in the competition yet to concede a goal. 4 games played, 10 goals scored, 0 conceded. Victor Lindelof has played every minute of these games, without him in the team, Manchester United lose some solidarity. His game has improved tremendously the past few seasons, his FA Cup campaign justifies this improvement as a player.
Can I bet on FA Cup matches behind-closed-doors?
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