Five talking points ahead of the FA Cup quarter-finals Mohamed Salah Liverpool
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Five talking points ahead of the FA Cup quarter-finals

Five talking points ahead of the FA Cup quarter-finals, including Wolves’ lack of goalscorers and Manchester United’s last chance to salvage their season.

Where will Wolves goals come from?

Gary O’Neil’s transformation of Wolves has included improving a woeful record in front of goal, after inheriting a team that avoided relegation despite being the Premier League’s lowest scorers last season.

Career-best campaigns from Matheus Cunha and Hwang Hee-chan have contributed to that upturn, alongside the return to form and fitness of Pedro Neto. However, Wolves will be without each of their mobile forward line for this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final with Coventry City, a trio which have been crucial to the club’s threat in transition this season.

Cunha and Hwang have 11 goals each this season, while Neto has been the chief creative source with 11 assists in all competitions. In their absence, Wolves lack options with teenagers Nathan Fraser and Leon Chiwome options to deputise. Wolves will have been content after drawing the lowest-ranked team remaining in their bid to reach Wembley, but the tie could be trickier than hoped in the absence of a senior goal threat.

Manchester City strong favourites to make semi-final history

Manchester City’s defence of their treble continues this weekend when Newcastle arrive at the Etihad in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Though the Citizens’ record in the FA Cup is modest in comparison to their Premier League and League Cup dominance, with three trophies since their transformative 2008 takeover, Pep Guardiola’s side are well used to reaching the latter rounds.

City have progressed to the FA Cup semi-finals in five consecutive campaigns and will become the first team in history to do so in six straight seasons with a win over Newcastle this weekend.

History favours the holders in terms of head-to-head clashes with the Magpies, who have lost their last nine trips to the Etihad and enter the contest in poor form and with injury problems.

Newcastle did, however, eliminate Manchester City from the Carabao Cup at St James’ Park in September.

Cup clash a distraction from promotion pressure for Leicester

Leicester will welcome the free hit of an FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea this weekend, with the pressure of the Championship promotion race having gripped the Foxes in recent weeks.

Enzo Maresca’s side looked set to canter to the second-tier title after a record-breaking start to the Championship campaign, but results have dipped to see the gap reduce. Leicester have won just one of their last five league games, a run which included three consecutive losses to Middlesbrough, Leeds and QPR.

Leeds, with 11 wins from their last 12, are now within three points of the former runaway leaders, while Ipswich are just four points back. Southampton, with a game in hand on those above, can get within six with victory in that fixture.

What had appeared a procession has become a nervous run-in and Leicester might just be grateful for the pressure-free contest at Chelsea, where the Foxes will travel as strong underdogs.

Manchester United look to salvage season

All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Sunday as Manchester United and Liverpool meet in cup competition.

A fierce rivalry takes on a new dynamic as the north-west titans compete for a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals. For Liverpool, the clash represents the next step in their pursuit of a historic quadruple, as the Reds look to send Jurgen Klopp into the sunset in dream fashion.

Form appears with the Merseysiders after eight wins and a draw from their last nine games, including a 6-1 thrashing of an admittedly poor Sparta Prague side on Thursday evening.

In opposition will be a Manchester United team who will view this competition as their last chance to salvage the season. Champions League hopes are fading with a sizeable gap to Aston Villa and Tottenham above them, with the FA Cup at least providing a chance for Ten Hag to claim silverware for the second successive season.

The Red Devils will need to be better than in recent clashes with Liverpool, having conceded 4+ goals in four of the last six meetings.

Nunez needs to take next step at Liverpool

Darwin Nunez’s second season at Liverpool has burst into life in recent weeks with the forward having continued his hot streak with a goal in the midweek win over Sparta Prague.

The 24-year-old has now scored 17 goals in all competitions this season and has nine in his last 11 appearances in all competitions. Having also recorded 11 assists this season, Nunez has become indispensable for Jurgen Klopp.

The next step for the Uruguayan will be deciding the biggest games, having failed to score in eight games against ‘Big Six’ opposition this season.

There are few bigger contests in world football than Liverpool against Manchester United and a decisive role will be the latest evidence that Nunez has found his feet in English football.

Read – Five talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

See more – Fantasy Premier League: The best chip strategies for the blank and double gameweeks

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