FA Cup quarter final predictions

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It's FA Cup quarter-final weekend and with the teams just one round from Wembley, the pressure is on the sides to turn a great run into a trophy winning campaign.

With big guns Chelsea and Man City having already fallen and holders Arsenal facing a daunting trip to Old Trafford it looks to be a wide open draw but who will be celebrating reaching the semi-finals come the final whistle. 

Bradford City v Reading 

It would be fair to say that League One Bradford City are favourites for the tie despite being a league below their Championship opposition.

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Having dumped out both Chelsea and Sunderland, scoring 16 goals so far in their run, it will take a stellar Reading performance to stall the Yorkshire side, who famously made the 2013 League Cup final, eventually falling to Swansea City. 

Reading have had a much easier run to the quarter-final, facing Championship opposition in all three rounds but have themselves upset the apple cart with a solid 2-1 victory against Derby in the last round.

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Without a win in their last three, Steve Clarke's side will be hoping that the cup can cheer up what has been a dismal league campaign that sees them currently sitting 18th in the Championship. 

The key to success for both teams lies in their attack, with Jon Stead having notched a goal in every round so far for Bradford and Yakubu proving the difference with a timely winner for Reading a round ago. 

Ultimately, Cup form should tell and having conceded 53 league goals so far this campaign, if Bradford's lethal attack hits full swing, it may be a long afternoon for Clarke's side. 

Score prediction: Bradford City 2-1 Reading 

Aston Villa v West Brom

With both sides making mid-season managerial changes, it could be the FA Cup run that defines how well the gaffers have settled in at their new sides.

In a repeat of Tuesday night's Premier League showdown, which saw Tim Sherwood steer his team to a 2-1 victory, the match is expected to follow a similar pattern.

However, without the desperation for a win and with the potential for a replay, we may see West Brom take a more defensive approach, knowing that Villa's lack of goals has been a huge hindrance. Tony Pulis' side may look to sit back and catch their Midlands neighbours on the break, knowing that one goal may be enough to send his men to Wembley.

The rejuvenation of Christian Benteke may change his side's fortunes in front of goal but it will almost certainly be how the Villa back line handle Saido Berahino that may decide the match. Having notched one in Tuesday night's defeat, the England international will be looking to make his first club appearance at Wembley and show possible summer suitors that he is the real deal. 

Revenge may well be a dish best served FA Cup style as West Brom should overturn their disappointing midweek display and carry on their charge for silverware.

Score Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 West Brom

Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers

Perhaps the easiest of the ties to call, Liverpool will be certain favourites to move one step closer to making Steven Gerrard's birthday one to remember on May 7th. 

Having used more lives than a cat in their run to this stage, don't expect Liverpool to make the tie easy for themselves, possibly letting Blackburn in before they finally put the game to bed late on. 

Living dangerously can come back to bite though and Blackburn won't turn over for their opposition, having shown their mite against both Swansea and Stoke, who they put to the sword, 4-1, in an impressive display. 

With Jordan Rhodes available, Rovers are always a threat and may pose Liverpool's hardest contest yet, as with a mid-table position already assured, Blackburn will throw everything at the Reds. 

Liverpool will have a game on their hands, but have shown real guile in the competition thus far. Daniel Sturridge's return to the squad also drastically strengthens their odds and having not reached the quarters since winning the Cup in 2006, they may even be some people's favourites to go all the way. 

Score Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

Manchester United v Arsenal 

With memories such as Ryan Gigg's final minute winner and the infamous penalty shoot out of the 2005 final, these two sides always save their classic meetings for the FA Cup. Holders Arsenal would have been praying for an easier tie as they look to retain the silverware that ended their nine year wait in May last year. 

It really leaves the tie with just one question: will Arsenal choke? 

Well, the Champions League mauling against Monaco would suggest yes, as yet again Wenger's men saved their defensive mishaps for the biggest stage of them all.

Rectifying their form with solid Premier League performances against Everton and QPR may have steadied the ship but with a title charge unlikely and their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread, it becomes the biggest game of Arsenal's season.

Similarly, the pressure is firmly on Louis van Gaal, who has won silverware in his first season at every club he has managed. With the FA Cup proving his sides only realistic chance too, it is set to be a fiery affair and a busy evening for the referee. 

Old Trafford hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Arsenal in recent years, with 8-2 defeats springing to mind. Arsenal have lost their last two FA Cup ties at the home of the Red Devils, 2-0 in 2011 and 4-0 in 2008, with their last win, home or away, against United coming in 2011. 

In fact, Arsenal haven't won at Old Trafford since September 2007 and may perhaps be forced to settle for a replay, as the two teams battle hard for their best chance of silverware.

With their propensity to choke and Man United's great run of form, losing just one of their last six home games, it may be another afternoon confined to agony for Arsenal fans.

Who would also bet against Wayne Rooney to rain on Arsenal's parade as the man who burst onto the scene with that iconic goal for Everton against the Gunners and who also scored the goal that ended their unbeaten Premier League run. 

Score prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal (Wayne Rooney to score)

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Premier League
Christian Benteke
FA Cup
Arsene Wenger
Blackburn Rovers
West Bromwich Albion
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Louis van Gaal
Saido Berahino
Bradford City
England Football
Aston Villa

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