FA Cup 2014: Breaking Down All Four Quarter-Final Fixtures

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FA Cup 2014: Breaking Down All Four Quarter-Final Fixtures
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Can Roberto Martinez take a giant stride towards Wembley for the second successive season?

English football's most celebrated cup competition, the FA Cup, takes precedence again this weekend as we get down to the nitty-gritty of the last eight.

Only two games now separate the participants with a dream date at Wembley on May 17.

In keeping with the rich history of the tournament, there will be at least one name from the lower leagues in the hat for the next round, as Nigel Clough's resurgent League One side Sheffield United host Charlton Athletic of the Championship.

Steve Bruce sees his new charges at Hull City take on a Sunderland side looking for an immediate pick-me-up after defeat in the Capital One Cup Final last weekend to Manchester City.

Manuel Pellegrini's side host cup-holders Wigan Athletic in a repeat of last year's final. Surely lightning can't strike twice?

The first of the ties, and indeed the only one to be played on Saturday, is a mouth-watering tie between great footballing sides in Arsenal and Everton.

Let's break down each tie below.

  

Arsenal vs. Everton

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Can Roberto Martinez guide his side to victory at the Emirates?

Roberto Martinez will aim to become the first manager in English football history to win back-to-back FA Cups with different teams.

The Toffee's travel the the Emirates Stadium buoyed by the omission of influential Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere, injured during England's friendly international vs. Denmark in midweek.

It's a cruel blow for Arsene Wenger's side as the Frenchman goes in search of silverware for the first time in eight years.

To have any chance, his back four will need to be at their very best.

Romelu Lukaku is back from injury and his sheer size and physical presence will keep Per Mertesacker busy throughout.

The visitors have a goal threat from all sides and last time at this stadium, Barcelona's on-loan Gerard Deulofeu smashed home a late equaliser. 

Since then, and aside from his own injury concerns, the young Catalan has hit a rich vein of form.

With that in mind, and a supplementary presence from Seamus Coleman down the right side, Kieran Gibbs will do well to curtail his own attacking meanderings.

Olivier Giroud, who endured an uncomfortable afternoon at the Britannia Stadium last weekend, can expect no change from Sylvain Distin.

Arsenal's best hope of success is to rely heavily again on the excellent passing game that has become their hallmark.

Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta and young guns like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have a part to play.

The German in particular will need to reproduce the form he showed in the Premier League fixture earlier in the season.

His workmanlike performance that day saw a man-of-the-match award, per WhoScored, against a resilient Everton side.

Prediction: 1-2

 

Sheffield United vs. Charlton

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Will Nigel Clough follow in his father's footsteps and take his Sheffield United side all the way to Wembley?

Nigel Clough will be looking to emulate his late father Brian by taking his Sheffield United side all the way to the final.

The Blades have won all of their last eight games, per WhoScored, and they have already taken the scalps of Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham on their way to the last eight.

High-flying Championship team Nottingham Forest were also put to the sword in the last round and few would bet against the home side in this one.

Neill Collins and Terry Kennedy have been magnificent in defence and a chief reason why Clough's men have conceded just once in those eight matches.

Charlton's form over the same period has been patchy, with four wins and four losses indicative of a team in transition under Chris Powell's guidance.

His selection is likely to include 18-year-old rookie, Diego Poyet, son of Sunderland manager Gus, who is dreaming of a Wembley reunion with his dad, per John Cross of the Daily Mirror:

To be honest, I would love to play against my Dad. The way I see it, there are some very tough teams left in the Cup, but if we did it then at least one Poyet will be guaranteed to be in the FA Cup final.

For me, it is massive. We are one win away from Wembley.

I have only played six games, professionally. To be one win away from Wembley is amazing.

A defensive 4-5-1 set up that Powell utilised in the last game against Leicester didn't work out as planned as the home side won comfortably 3-0.

Thirty-seven percent possession in that match, per WhoScored, cannot be repeated at Bramall Lane if the Addicks want a place in the last four.

Prediction: 4-1

 

Hull City vs. Sunderland

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Sunderland will be desperate to progress after the disappointment of losing the Capital One Cup Final last weekend.

The other Poyet in the draw takes his Sunderland side to reacquaint themselves with ex-Black Cats boss, and now Hull manager, Steve Bruce.

Gus Poyet will be hoping there are no lasting effects from the draining defeat in last weekend's Capital One Cup final defeat against Manchester City.

With Hull missing cup-tied duo Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, this match represents a realistic chance for an immediate return to Wembley for Poyet's men.

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Steven Fletcher is still being eased back into the side after injury, so goalscoring responsibility will fall on the shoulders of dreadfully out-of-form Jozy Altidore.

Only one goal in 17 appearances, per WhoScored, is a dismal showing and Hull's Alex Bruce and Curtis Davies should have more than enough about them to ensure Altidore doesn't add to his meagre offering. 

Goals will be at a premium at either end with John O'Shea and Wes Brown continuing to provide excellence at the back for Sunderland, and it's in the midfield areas where the match is likely to be won or lost.

Sunderland's combative Lee Cattermole can always be relied upon to put in a shift and although his style is in direct contrast to Hull's pass-master Tom Huddlestone, both should be influential in the afternoon's proceedings.

Prediction: 0-1

 

Manchester City vs. Wigan

JON SUPER/Associated Press
Manuel Pellegrini's side have already knocked Wigan out of the Capital One Cup this season.

Manuel Pellegrini can take a step towards an unprecedented quadruple with victory here.

Even if Barcelona were to progress at their expense in the Champions League, the Chilean still has the comfort of knowing that a domestic treble is well within reach.

Uwe Rosler's men visit the Etihad having won their last four, scoring 11. 

It's a rich vein of form which deserves more than cursory acknowledgement and given half the chance, the experienced Nicky Maynard could again be amongst the goals.

Watford showed in the earlier rounds that you underestimate the underdogs at your peril.

In truth, however, the ageing Emmerson Boyce will have his hands full at the other end as Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero look to continue on the goal trail.

With the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho as back up, this tie is only going one way, as Wigan, reluctantly, relinquish their hold on the trophy.

It could get very, very messy.

Prediction: 6-0

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