We look ahead to this weekend's Emirates FA Cup quarter-final action

Tuesday 14 Mar 2023
Grimsby Town celebrating their major cup upset against Southampton

When you assess this week’s Emirates FA Cup quarter-final ties, one theme continually crops up: history.

Whether it is Grimsby becoming the first side in FA Cup history to eliminate five teams from a higher division in a single season, or Burnley and Fulham’s torrid records against the Manchester clubs, each of the quarter-final ties have a historic tale to tell.

Here we preview the four FA Cup quarter-final ties and tell you where you can watch this weekend’s action.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Grimsby Town
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 2.15pm
Venue: Amex Stadium
Where to watch: BBC1, online and iPlayer

This is the first time since 1930 that Brighton and Grimsby have gone head-to-head in the FA Cup. That year a replay was needed, and the game was won by Brighton, who were a Third Division South team at the time, while Grimsby were in the top-flight.

As mentioned previously, Grimsby have become the first team in FA Cup history to eliminate five teams from a higher division in a single season in the competition (from the first round onwards).

Since the fourth tier of English league football was created in the 1958-59 season, Grimsby are only the fifth side from that division to feature in an FA Cup quarter-final. The four previous sides have all been eliminated and their appearance in this round is the first time in 33 years, following on from Oxford United in 1964, Colchester United in 1971, Bradford City in 1976 and Cambridge United in 1990.

For Grimsby, this is their first FA Cup quarter-final since 1938-39, when they beat Chelsea 1-0 as a top-flight side, and this weekend’s game will be the biggest gap between quarter-final appearances, with the 84 years breaking Reading’s 83-year record (1927-2010).

Since the first round proper onwards, no team has netted more goals than Grimsby Town’s 15, which is level with Wrexham. 

It’s the most by a fourth-tier side in a season in 30 years (Crewe also scored 15 in 1992-93), with Colchester the last fourth division side to net more than that (18 in 1970-71). 

All 15 of Grimsby’s goals have been against teams from a higher division, with only Tottenham in 1900-01 – then a non-league team – scoring more (16) against sides from a higher division in a season from the first round onwards.

Manchester City v Burnley
Date: Saturday 18 March 2023
Kick-off: 5.45pm
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Where to watch: BBC1, online and iPlayer

When it comes to this fixture, recent history only favours one team.

Burnley have lost their last ten meetings with Man City in all competitions by an aggregate score of 34-1 and City have won the last four in the FA Cup, most recently a 5-0 win in the fourth round in 2019.

Burnley haven't won away against Manchester City since the 1973 Charity Shield, drawing four and losing 12 of their 16 visits since then.
Manchester City’s record in the FA Cup is not only impressive against Burnley.

They have reached the semi-final of the FA Cup in five of their six seasons under Pep Guardiola, with the 2017-18 campaign the only exception. 

This weekend they could become just the third team to reach the semi-final of the competition in five consecutive seasons since the creation of the Football League, following in the footsteps of Manchester United (1961-62 to 1965-66) and Arsenal (2000-01 to 2004-05).

As for their opponents, this is Burnley's first FA Cup quarter-final match since 2003 and you have to go even further back to 1974 for a semi-final appearance.
Manchester City have won their last ten FA Cup home games, scoring 41 goals and conceding just four, but Burnley can take some comfort from the fact their last such defeat was against a Championship side, when Middlesbrough won 2-0 in January 2015.

Burnley are also revitalised under City legend Vincent Kompany and are the runaway leaders in the Championship, with the Clarets only suffering three defeats in all competitions this season, with one of those being in the Carabao Cup against Manchester United and another all the way back in August.

However, they face a City side who are yet to concede a goal in this season's FA Cup, and in Phil Foden, face a rising star who has the best record of any player since his FA Cup debut in January 2019, with no player either scoring (ten) or being involved in (15) more goals in the competition from the first round onwards than Foden.

Manchester United v Fulham
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 4.30pm
Venue: Old Trafford
Where to watch: ITV1 and ITVX

And when it comes to bad records against a Manchester club, Fulham know all about it.

After losing their first two FA Cup ties against Fulham in 1905 and 1908, Manchester United have progressed from each of their last eight against the London club.

Fulham are winless in their last 15 meetings with Manchester United in all competitions, losing 12, while they've only won one of their last 25 away games against the Red Devils, which came back in 2003.

Fulham may take some solace from United’s recent record in the competition though.

Whilst no team has reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup more than Manchester United, with 30 a joint record alongside Arsenal, the Red Devils have lost five of their last eight quarter-final ties, most recently against Leicester in 2020-21.

As for Fulham, they have lost their last three FA Cup quarter-final ties, with this their first since 2010. 

It is 21 years since they last reached the semi-final of the competition, when they beat West Brom in the quarter-finals to progress.

Fulham have relied heavily on Aleksandar Mitrović in recent years and will be hoping their talisman is fit enough to start, although the Serbia star has not scored in 11 appearances in the FA Cup.

Sheffield United v Blackburn Rovers
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 12pm
Venue: Bramall Lane
Where to watch: ITV1 and ITVX

Blackburn Rovers have the chance to make history this weekend.

If Rovers beat Sheffield United on Sunday it will be the first time they have defeated the Blades in the FA Cup for 126 years, which would surpass the previous record of Derby against Barnsley, which stands at 125 years and 343 days (1897-2023).

But when it comes to the FA Cup as a whole, Sheffield United’s recent record is good. This is the Blades’ third FA Cup quarter-final in the last four seasons, although they have lost their previous two, against Arsenal in 2019-20 and Chelsea in 2020-21. Their last appearance in the semi-final came in 2014 when they lost to Hull City.

This is only the fifth FA Cup quarter-final between two sides from the second tier since the turn of the millennium and it is the first since 2013, when Millwall knocked out Blackburn after a replay.

If Sheffield United are to win this weekend, they won’t be short of potential goalscorers. All nine of the Blades’ FA Cup goals this season have been scored by different players, with only Grimsby Town having more different scorers with ten.

Stats provided by Opta.

By Frank Smith