Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
I was speaking to some Palace fans at Selhurst Park before the Newcastle game and they were buzzing for this fixture. They genuinely believe they can surprise Liverpool and go all the way this year. This confidence will be transmitted to the players in what will undoubtedly be an electrifying atmosphere on Saturday evening. Liverpool however, are on a great run and unbeaten since mid December. Balotelli is likely to be thrust into the starting line-up after opening his Premier League account with the late winner against Spurs in midweek. Palace have made Selhurst Park their fortress this season and I feel they’ll get a result here.
Aston Villa vs Leicester City
This cup game comes as a welcome break for both these sides who are involved in fierce relegation battle in the league. Paul Lambert’s time at the Villa helm came to an end on Wednesday after a dreadful season which has seen them score just twelve league goals, the lowest in Europe’s top divisions. Meanwhile, Nigel Pearson will be wondering how he still has his job after media circulated last weekend that he had been given the axe. I feel this will be a low scoring game with Villa to edge it.
Arsenal vs Middlesborough
Once again, Arsene Wenger has rejuvenated his side at a crucial stage of the season. Their tendency to achieve top 4 will make it unwise to bet against them in the premier leagues race for the top European spots. The FA cup holders will not be worried about this tie, as they usually perform at home against the lesser sides. However, as witnessed in the last round, complacency is something his side cannot afford. The championship leaders will not be brushed aside easily and their run of wins will make them confident at causing an upset. However, I believe Arsenal will dominate on home soil.
Preston North End vs Manchester United
I’m still not convinced on Van Gaal’s side. Although they have picked up the points that they require to be in the top 4, their performances suggest there are still deep-rooted problems that haven’t been addressed since Sir Alex’s departure. Preston will make life difficult for Manchester United, and I expect home support to play a huge factor. Van Gaal will play a strong side and must ensure that they are on top of their game to brush aside an opponent that shouldn’t be underestimated. Overall I expect Premier League quality to come through, with a narrow win for the Red Devils.