With Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal out of this year’s FA Cup, the onus will be on Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United to go on and win England’s oldest club competition. Antonio Conte’s side, Premier League champions less than one year ago, face Leicester City in the quarterfinals whilst Spurs travel to fellow top-flight outfit Swansea City.
But it could be United, 12-time winners of this competition, who go on to lift the famous trophy at Wembley Stadium this season. Jose Mourinho’s men host Brighton & Hove Albion in the last eight and Red Devils fans will be quietly confident of advancing to the semi-finals; which are now held at Wembley. The Seagulls are no slouches by any means but United, arguably the second best team in England, are on another level.
Backing against Mourinho’s men would be unwise at this stage – Chelsea and Spurs could quite easily slip up in their respective fixtures. Claude Puel’s Leicester, well and truly safe from relegation, can harness all of their efforts on beating Chelsea whilst Swansea, buoyed by Carlos Carvalhal’s arrival, will be a tough nut to crack at the Liberty Stadium. United will be hoping for one of their two rivals to fall short…
At the time of writing, United are a 2/1 chance in bet365’s FA Cup betting odds and plenty of punters will be looking to back the Red Devils at that price. Mourinho’s record in the FA Cup isn’t great; the Portuguese won the competition just once during his two stints at Chelsea but this is a fantastic opportunity to secure major honours. Winning trophies is an absolute must for a club of United’s stature.
Some fans have been critical of Mourinho at times this campaign – perhaps overly critical when you consider the current situation in English football. Nobody has come close to Manchester City this season and United have had to endure plenty of taunting from their noisy neighbours. However, the Red Devils are still the ‘best of the rest’; some doubters would have you thinking that United were languishing outside of the top four.
— Tom McDermott (@MrTomMcDermott) February 21, 2018
Most United fans will be satisfied if Mourinho’s men finish second and win the FA Cup this season; to most, that would constitute a successful campaign. There is no excuse for failure at this stage of the competition, especially when you consider the strength in depth that United possess. Even with their Champions League commitments, the Red Devils should be able to juggle their squad to accommodate for the FA Cup.
In Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial, United have the quality in the final third to punish Brighton. The Seagulls pushed Mourinho’s men close at Old Trafford back in November; Lewis Dunk’s own goal the difference between the two sides. But that was then and this is now – United tend to come alive at the business end of the season. Red Devils fans will already have one eye on a trip to Wembley.