Stoke v West Ham
On Sunday we have the last of three all Premier League ties at the quarter finals stage with Stoke is at home to West Ham. West Ham have shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks while Stoke have struggled at times. Last weekend in the Premier League West Ham beat Stoke 3-0 at Upton Park.
West Ham have gone through a remarkable metamorphosis with goals now flowing with a consistency that few would have predicted ten weeks ago.
They have scored three goals or more in their last four matches and in six of their last 7.
Meanwhile Stoke have a couple of players who have made it a habit to score in FA Cup matches recently. Jonathan Walters has scored three goals in his last three FA Cup appearances while John Carew has scored eight goals in his last nine.
Stoke will be banking on a solid home record to see them through. Only one of the last 18 teams to visit the Britannia Stadium in the FA Cup has scored more than once against Stoke and they are unbeaten in six home matches in all competitions in 2011.
Manchester City v Reading
The final match of the round has Manchester City playing host to Championship side Reading. While City cruised through the last round against Aston Villa, Reading pulled off a surprise win away to Everton.
Manchester City are looking to reach the semi final of the FA Cup for first time since 1980. Although they lost 2-0 away to Dynamo Kiev on Thursday City does have a stellar home record – they have won nine and drawn the other of their last ten home games.
While Manchester City looks to consolidate their position in the top four of the Premier League, Reading will have to look to the play-off system in order to have any chance to regain the position in the Premier League they held a few years ago.
At moment they are outside the promotion play-off position but are within striking distance.
At this stage of the FA Cup last season Reading led Aston Villa 2-0 at half time but eventually lost 4-2. This season Manchester City have needed replays before disposing of lower level opposition in the shape of Leicester City and Notts County already this season. If Reading can take Manchester City to a replay it will be considered a successful day out.
Eoin – West Ham and Manchester City
Bobby – Stoke and Manchester City
Roma v Lazio
It has been a terrific season for Lazio while with Roma you get a feeling that it might all implode at any moment.
Compared to last season Lazio have picked up 25 more points than they had at this stage last season. Their 51 points has them five points ahead of Roma and just two points behind 3rd place Napoli.
Solid defending has been the foundation of Lazio’s relative success this season. With only 23 goals conceded in 28 games this season only Milan with 20 against have allowed fewer.
However, key Brazilian centre back Dias missed last week and is a major doubt for the derby.
The first match this season in Serie A finished with a 2-0 win for Roma – Roma also won 2-1 in the Coppa. Should Roma complete a hat trick of wins then it will be the first league double by either side since Roma did it in 2001/02.
Parma v Napoli
Napoli appear to running out of gas with a loss (Milan) and a draw (home to second from bottom Brescia) in their last two Serie A matches and a loss to Villarreal in the Europa League.
The good news is Ezequiel Lavezzi will return after a three match ban. Napoli are in third two points ahead of Lazio but perhaps the team to be more concerned about is Udinese who are just a point behind Lazio.
Parma are the draw specialists in Serie A this season with 11 in total and they are only a point above the last relegation spot. They may have only lost 3 home games this season but they have won only 4 with 7 games drawn. What is more they have only scored 13 goals in 14 home games.
Sevilla v Barcelona
A few seasons ago a visit to Sevilla was enough to worry the best of teams. Not so much the case anymore. Sevilla are no longer Champions League material and losing to Braga in the qualifying group stage earlier this season choked off the cash flow needed to lift and improve the squad.
In fact the two time winners of the UEFA Cup failed to make it past the last 32 stage this season going out to Porto on the away goals rule.
Sitting 8th and 12 points behind Villarreal who sit fourth and in the last Champions League Sevilla’s target at the moment is to qualify for next season’s Europa League. The good news is they are only trail 5th place Athletic Bilbao by three points at present.
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