The FA Cup enters its quarter-final stage this weekend, with an open looking last eight with several of the Premier League’s leading clubs having already exited the competition.
Could there be a surprise winner this season? We take a look at the five favourites to lift the trophy…
Crystal Palace – 16/1
Previous Best: Runners-up (2) – 1989/90, 2015/16
Twice, runners-up, Palace have endured an inconsistent season in the Premier League, sitting five points clear of the drop zone with eight games to go. Roy Hodgson’s side should be safe, so will they prioritise the FA Cup?
The Eagles reached the final under Alan Pardew in 2015/16 (remember that cringeworthy dancing?), taking the lead before losing to Manchester United in extra-time courtesy of Jesse Lingard’s winner.
Palace face a difficult away tie at Watford in the quarter-finals, and will be hoping talisman Wilfried Zaha can inspire them towards another cup final appearance at Wembley. A first major trophy mightn’t be beyond them.
Watford – 12/1
Previous Best: Runners-up – 1983/84
Once runners-up and four-time semi-finalists, Watford have come close without ever tasting the ultimate success in the FA Cup. The Hornets have enjoyed an impressive season under Javi Gracia, with European qualification a possibility through their league finish.
Alternatively, Watford could secure continental qualification through a FA Cup win, and host London rivals Crystal Palace in the last eight. Gracia’s side did a league double of The Eagles in the Premier League this season, and another win over Roy Hodgson’s team will secure their place in the last four.
Watford will be hoping Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu can continue their fine recent form this weekend, with fans at Vicarage Road dreaming of a maiden cup success.
Wolves – 10/1
Previous Best: Winners (4) – 1892/93, 1907/08, 1948/49, 1959/60
59 years since Wolves last lifted the FA Cup, fans of the Midlands club will be again daring to dream of lifting the oldest national football competition in world football.
After years in the wilderness, significant investment has turned Wolves into a genuine threat in this competition, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side having made a seamless transition to life back in the top flight.
Wolves currently sit seventh in the Premier League, and have impressed with their brand of football in the current campaign. Mexican forward Raul Jimenez has shone and will be key to their hopes of cup success, with Wolves hosting Manchester United in the last eight on Saturday.
Should they navigate a difficult task by beating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United at Molineux, few will fancy facing Wolves in the last four.
Manchester United – 7/2
Previous Best: Winners (12) – 1908/09, 1947/48, 1962/63, 1976/77, 1982/83, 1984/85, 1989/90, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1998/99, 2003/04, 2015/16
Few teams have a FA Cup pedigree quite like Manchester United, who have lifted the trophy on no fewer than 12 occasions. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed the side’s fortunes since being appointed caretaker manager in December, and few will fancy facing his in-form side as the tournament reaches its conclusion.
United face a tricky tie when they travel to Molineux to face Wolves in the last eight on Saturday, but should they progress, they will be confident of cup success.
Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have shone since Solskjaer’s arrival, whilst Romelu Lukaku has hit blistering form in recent weeks with six goals in his past four appearances.
With his permanent appointment looking likely, could Solskjaer deliver the first trophy of his Old Trafford reign?
Man City – 4/5
Previous Best: Winners (5) – 1903/04, 1933/34, 1955/56, 1968/69, 2010/11
Chasing an unprecedented ‘quadruple’, Pep Guardiola’s side are favourites for the competition and with good reason. The Premier League champions are in stunning form, having racked up six consecutive league wins before thrashing German side Schalke 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
City face Championship side Swansea City in the last eight, and start as heavy favourites to reach the last four. The FA Cup remains the only domestic honour Guardiola is yet to win at The Etihad, though the club do have an indifferent record in the competition, with their 2011 win their sole success since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.
Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling will be key to their hopes, with the duo amongst the leading contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award.