The draw for the quarterfinal round of the world’s oldest soccer competition was conducted today in Soho Square. From a record 731 teams that entered the 2007-2008 edition of the FA Cup, we’re down to the last 8/9 and for a neutral fan like myself, this draw shaped up very nicely. All four ties will be played on the weekend of March 8.
Everyone’s sentimental pick to win this tournament now has to be League One’s Bristol Rovers, the lowest-placed team left standing. The newly-promoted Pirates will have every chance to advance to the semifinals as they’ll host West Bromwich Albion, who just spanked fellow Coca-Cola Championship side Coventry City 5-0 on the road. Fortunately for Bristol Rovers, that game was a bit of an anomaly as W.B.A. have a losing record (6-2-8) this season away from home. With that said, Rovers’ home record hasn’t exactly been outstanding so far this year either (5-6-3) but there should be a sellout, raucous crowd at Memorial Stadium to give them an extra boost.
The other lower-profile, lower-league team who has reached this stage is Barnsley, and they are coming off a huge 2-1 upset victory at Anfield on Saturday. The Tykes drew a home game in this round so that works in their favor, but they’ll have the distinct displeasure of hosting Chelsea, who are the defending FA Cup champions. Barnsley have been very good on home turf this season (9-5-2) and have obviously just proven that they are capable of beating a Premiership power. I don’t particularly like their chances of knocking off Chelsea in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to force a replay at Stamford Bridge either and take their chances there.
In the other two quarterfinal, or 6th Round as the FA likes to call it, ties, we’ll see an all-Premiership battle as Manchester United will welcome road warriors Portsmouth to Old Trafford, and then the winner of the Middlesbrough-Sheffield United replay will host Cardiff City.
Complete Quarterfinal Draw:
Barnsley vs. Chelsea
Bristol Rovers vs. West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough/Sheffield United vs. West Bromwich Albion
Manchester United vs. Portsmouth
Note: Premiership teams are in bold