Whilst FPL managers have had a well-deserved break since gameweek 26 ended on February 11th, a majority of Premier League clubs had the fifth round of the FA Cup to deal with. The stakes: a spot in the quarter finals of one of the football world’s most historic club tournaments. We’ll take a quick look at how the teams fared and what the Monday night quarter final draw has brought us. The 6th round draw may again throw up some betting opportunities for a lower ranked team to provide an upset against their heavily backed opponent who may also have priorities in the EPL or Champions League and if you’re looking to take advantage of these betting odds then consider the types of bet that you can use online.
We’ll also cover how the FA Cup could impact on FPL planning. The deadline for gameweek 27, which is a blank gameweek for many clubs (we’ll cover this in tomorrow’s article), is set at 18h45 (GMT+0) on Friday the 22nd of February.
FA Cup fifth round results: How did the Premier League clubs do?
|QPR||Watford||0 – 1|
|Brighton||Derby||2 – 1|
|Newport||Manchester City||1 – 4|
|Bristol City||Wolves||0 – 1|
|Doncaster||Crystal Palace||0 – 2|
|Chelsea||Manchester United||0 – 2|
FA Cup quarter final draw: what’s ahead for the remaining Premier League clubs?
|Swansea||Manchester City||March 16th|
|Watford||Crystal Palace||March 16th|
|Wolves||Manchester United||March 16th|
The Seagulls booked a relatively comfortable victory over Frank Lampard’s Derby County last Saturday. Considering Brighton are having a blank in gameweek 27, manager Chris Hughton sent out a strong starting eleven, including regulars like Jurgen Locadia, Dale Stephens, and Shane Duffy. The home team, who have won just one of their last eleven Premier League matches, were far from impressive in the first half, but fortunately for them, Derby didn’t do much better. Probably the most interesting take-away from this game was the fact that Brighton’s Yves Bissouma again showed both great quality and promise of more. The Mali midfielder started off the attack that led to the first goal, while his shot against the inside of the post allowed Locadia to make it two in the rebound. For those FPL managers considering Brighton assets based on their favourable run of fixtures, such as Gross, Ryan or Murray, this game didn’t provide that much new information, but the victory could improve the confidence amongst the Seagulls.
Palace’s Roy Hodgson faced Doncaster Rovers with a pretty strong line-up, including regular starters like Townsend, Milivojevic and Van Aanholt. Doncaster put up a good fight, but this Palace are disciplined and know how to play a result-based game. By half-time, the Eagles were 0-2 up and this would end up being the final result as well. As a result, Palace have qualified for the quarter finals of the FA Cup for a second time in the last four seasons, which is a more than decent record. An away game against Watford is up next, and while this will certainly prove to be more of a challenge than their fifth round tie, a berth in the semi-finals is definitely within the options. If Hodgson’s comments are anything to go by, his men won’t lose focus in the Premier League despite their FA Cup success, so with a good run of fixtures coming up, popular FPL assets like Wan-Bissaka, Milivojevic and Zaha should remain secure starters.
Man City were the Premier League team with the, on paper, easiest encounter this week, as the men in sky blue visited League Two outfit Newport City. On a pitch that at times looked more like a swamp than a football field, the home team put up a brave fight, but eventually had to give in to Man City’s logical superiority. As a matter of fact, before this encounter, only four other teams managed to keep City from scoring in the first half. Despite the 82-place difference in league positions and the difference in starting eleven value (£320 million vs £50 thousand, guess who’s who), it took the Cityzens just under an hour to break the deadlock. At 0-2, (Phil Foden strike), Newport did the impossible and got back into the game, courtesy of a Padraig Amond lob. Another Phil Foden strike a minute later and an extra-time Mahrez goal ended up putting the game beyond doubt for Guardiola’s men. City have no fixture in gameweek 27, so FPL managers can postpone worrying about the impossibility of predicting a Pep Guardiola line-up.
Man United facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was the FA Cup’s fifth round stand-out fixture and the Red Devils made it theirs. As you would expect, both teams started with most of their regular starting line-ups intact, and, I guess as you would expect as well by now, United’s Paul Pogba ended up being the difference. The French midfielder has never been better, which his goal and assist against Chelsea illustrated. If you haven’t got him yet in FPL… Seriously, why not? United deserved the win and despite Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri claiming he’s not worried about his position at the club, he’ll be worried about his team’s lack of teeth, both up front and in the back. The Blues are now out of all domestic cup competitions, meaning they will not have any blank gameweeks this season, but they do have a leg and a half in the Europa League’s next round after a 1-2 away win at Malmö. Players like Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain and Pedro could be sources of points in the coming Premier League games, though the combination of a good run of coming fixtures and a lack of consistent form could prove to be a real FPL trap.
That Watford is taking the FA Cup seriously was illustrated by their starting line-up against QPR last Friday. Regular Premier League starters like Troy Deeney, José Holebas and Etienne Capoué were present, and it was the latter of the three who scored the only goal of the game in the 45th minute. Tom Cleverley provided the assist for what would end up being the Hornets’ only on target, which is not a very impressive statistic, and neither is the fact that Watford goalie Heurelho Gomes was one of the best Hornets on the pitch. What is impressive though, is that at the end of the game, the score line was 0-1 to Watford. Javi Gracia’s men kept the clean sheet (their third in the FA Cup this season and their sixth in their last eight games in all competitions), they are placed 8th in the Premier League, and with a home game against Palace coming up in the FA Cup quarter final they have real chances of qualifying for the semis, and who knows… maybe all the way. Watford are blanking in gameweek 31 though, and in their next seven Premier League games they are facing Liverpool, Man City, and Man United away, as well as Arsenal at home. Not very appealing in FPL terms, but their quality and form nonetheless make them an outfit FPL managers should keep an eye on.
The reason we didn’t want to name Watford things like “the season’s surprise package” or “probably one of this season’s best performers” is that, despite those terms being more than applicable to the Hornets as well, we still have to cover Wolves’ 0-1 victory over Bristol City in this article. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men were promoted to the Premier League at the end of last season, but they’ve been playing like they’ve been playing there for years. Their current seventh place is proof of that. What makes it all even more impressive is that Wolves have also made it to the FA Cup quarter finals by beating Bristol City away. The only changes to the starting line-up for Wolves were the spots for Ivan Cavaleiro (for the slightly injured Jota) and Romain Saiss (for Ruben Neves), which might indicate that they are aiming to go all the way in the FA Cup this season. A Cavaleiro strike just before the half hour mark was enough for a Wolves victory and the general passage of play over 90 minutes will only have added to their confidence. With Bournemouth (away), Huddersfield (away), and Cardiff (home) up next in the Premier League, and Espirito Santo’s preference to stick to a fixed starting line-up, Wolves assets like Matt Doherty, Raul Jïmenez and Joao Moutinho remain investments with great points potential.