It’s significance may pale in comparison to vintage iterations, but the magic of the FA Cup will never disappear.
Following the conclusion of the fifth round, just eight teams remain in the competition. Half of the surviving outfits currently ply their trade outside of the Premier League, with the lowest-ranked side sitting 17th in League Two.
For those left, a Wembley semi-final is just 90 minutes away and the quarter-final draw means we’re guaranteed to see at least one second tier outfit play under the iconic arch in April.
Here’s how 90min ranks the teams left in the FA Cup by their likelihood of lifting the trophy.
Grimsby took advantage of a vulnerable Southampton in the fifth round to secure a historic victory and progress into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1939.
Paul Hurst’s side were resilient on the south coast after taking a 2-0 lead, with Duje Caleta-Car’s strike setting up a grandstand finish. The League Two side held off the Saints, though, and completed one of the biggest FA Cup upsets we’ve ever seen.
They were brought back down the earth, however, as Carlisle eased past them 2-0 in League Two, and you suspect a trip to Brighton will be a bridge too far for Hurst’s men.
Burnley’s trip to Man City is arguably the most intriguing tie of the round. It’s narratives galore!
Vincent Kompany’s return to the Etihad will be much discussed in the build-up to the cup tie, and the Belgian will be taking the Clarets to his old stomping ground attempting to complete a major upset.
Burnley have been excellent under Kompany’s tutelage this season and are poised to return the Premier League playing a brand of football we don’t typically associate with the gritty Clarets.
Kompany’s side are the best the Championship has to offer right now, but claiming victory at the Etihad is a feat achieved by very few, especially in cup competitions.
Jon Dahl Tomasson has proven to be quite the appointment from the 1994/95 Premier League champions. Blackburn currently sit fourth in the Championship and are just a game away from a FA Cup semi-final after they eased past Leicester in the fifth round.
Rovers haven’t tasted defeat since mid-January and will take all the confidence in the world into their quarter-final tie after they beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Ewood Park to bolster their automatic promotion push.
Their trip to Bramall Lane is the trickiest tie to call of the round.
The Blades overcame ‘Big Six’ opposition last time out despite making a whole host of changes to their favoured XI.
Tottenham were dire at Bramall Lane, and they were made to pay for their complacency when Iliman Ndiaye came off the bench and sent the Championship side into the last eight with a fine solo strike.
They’ll play host to Blackburn in the quarter-finals, and while they were just beaten by their upcoming opponents, Sheffield United’s home advantage could play a major role in deciding the victor of the tie.
Very few projected Fulham to enjoy the success they’re having this season, and Marco Silva deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the job he’s doing.
Victory over Leeds in the fifth round saw the Cottagers progress into the last eight where they’ll take on Manchester United. Fulham played Erik ten Hag’s side close in their first meeting of the season at Craven Cottage, but this cup tie will be played at Old Trafford which undoubtedly favours the Red Devils.
The Cottagers, though, will not fear United, especially after their Anfield demolition, and some will put the Red Devils on upset alert when Silva’s side make the trip north.
Brighton have little to no pedigree in this competition, but they have a real chance of doing something magical this season. They have never won the FA Cup and have reached the final just once in their 121-year history (1983).
However, they’ve been paired with Saints slayers Grimsby in the quarter-finals and many will expect Roberto De Zerbi’s side to reach their third-ever FA Cup semi-final.
The Seagulls have shown they’re capable of competing with the big boys left in the competition, too.
United’s stock took a Wall Street Crash-esque hit when they succumbed to an unthinkable 7-0 thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool.
Everything was rosy in Erik ten Hag’s world heading into the game, but questions will once again arise in the aftermath. The Carabao Cup champions have come on leaps and bounds under their excellent Dutch manager, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact their Anfield humbling will have on the rest of their 2022/23 campaign.
They’ve still got plenty to play for, and many will still fancy their chances of going all the way in this competition. Fulham will be no walk in the park, however.
Considering their League Cup dominance since Pep Guardiola took the reins, it’s pretty remarkable that Man City have lifted just one FA Cup during the Spaniard’s tutelage thus far.
The Citizens have reached the semi-finals of the competition four seasons in a row, but they haven’t reached the final since they lifted the cup in 2019.
Despite United’s resurgence, City are the best team left and have a favourable home tie in the quarter-finals. They’ll be expected to beat Burnley in the last eight and advance into those dreaded semis.
Guardiola may have more pressing priorities by the time the semi-finals roll around, and that could compromise their charge for domestic cup silverware. However, you’ve got to expect City to find a way this year.