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FA Cup: Man Utd drawn vs. Brighton in QF; Chelsea get Leicester

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Three more Premier League sides joined Chelsea and Leicester City in the quarterfinals of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Saturday, followed by the draw for the final eight…

[ WATCH: Lionel Messi finds Luis Suarez with a brilliant through ball ]

Huddersfield Town 0-2 Manchester United

Romelu Lukaku‘s first season at Man United has been, on the whole, quietly fruitful (12 PL goals, plus another 8 in other competitions), though his $96-million price tag continues to loom large. On Saturday, the big Belgian fired the Red Devils into the final eight with a brace against fellow Premier Leaguers Huddersfield.

It was 1-0 after just three minutes, when Lukaku slotted home to finish a quick counter attack set forth by a brilliant through ball from Juan Mata.

Mata made it 2-0 just before halftime, but the goal was wiped away after utilizing the video-assistant refereeing system. They don’t get much closer than this one.

United’s second came 10 minutes into the second half, when Alexis Sanchez took his turn playing Lukaku into acres of wide open space.

When the draw was made following the conclusion of Saturday’s game, we learned that United will host another PL side, Brighton & Hove Albion, in the next round.

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Coventry City

That’s because Brighton brushed aside League 2 side Coventry City to reach their first quarterfinal since 1986.

Jurgen Locadia, Connor Goldson and Leonardo Ulloa bagged the goals for the ‘Gulls.

West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Southampton

Southampton are also through to the quarterfinals, thanks to their 2-1 victory away to West Brom. Salomon Rondon’s stunning volley undoubtedly stole the headlines (WATCH HERE), but Saints are the ones to advance, thanks to goals scored by Wesley Hoedt (11th minute) and Dusan Tadic (56th).

In the next round, Southampton will be away to the winner of Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City (Monday, 2:55 p.m. ET).

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Swansea City

The last thing relegation battlers Swansea City would have wanted is for a replay to be shoehorned into their remaining schedule, but Carlos Carvalhal’s side was unable to best Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, thus a replay at the Liberty Stadium on a yet-to-be-determined date over the next month.

Full quarterfinal draw

Sheffield Wednesday/Swansea City vs. Rochdale/Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City vs. Chelsea
Wigan Athletic/Manchester City vs. Southampton

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Rochdale vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City — 2:55 p.m. ET

FA Cup fifth round preview, score picks

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The last 16 of the FA Cup takes place this weekend and there are plenty of big boys aiming to avoid upsets in the oldest knockout competition on the planet.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores here ]

Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are all still in the competition and all four are heavily favored to ease into the quarterfinals.

Where will the upsets be? Tottenham head to third-tier Rochdale to play on the freshly laid pitch at Spotland and we saw how they struggled at Newport in the fourth round, while Brighton host fourth-tier Coventry City who have already knocked out Stoke City on their way to the last 16.

Wigan have also beaten PL opponents on their way to the fifth round after dispatching Bournemouth and West Ham but they face a Manchester City side who are eyeing the quadruple.

Below is a look at the schedule in full, while I make my score prediction for each game.


FA Cup fifth round schedule

Friday
Leicester City vs. Sheffield United – 2:45 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Leicester to win 2-0)
Chelsea vs. Hull City – 3 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Chelsea to win 4-1)

Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Swansea City – 7:30 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Swansea to win 2-1)
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Coventry City – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Coventry to win 2-1)
West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 0-0 draw)
Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester United – 12:30 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 1-1 draw)

Sunday
Rochdale vs. Tottenham Hotspur – 11 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Tottenham to win 3-0)

Monday
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City – 2:55 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Man City to win, 3-1)

Could Loris Karius really be the answer for Liverpool’s goalkeeping woes?

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The general consensus has been that while Liverpool continues to improve, the goalkeeping situation at the club has become untenable, and that the Reds will need to move on from Simon Mignolet in the summer.

With names like Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, PSG’s Kevin Trapp, Stoke City’s Jack Butland, and Samir Handanovic all thrown around, the seat between the sticks at Anfield has been heating up.

Loris Karius has other ideas.

[ MORE: Chelsea puts West Brom to bed 3-0 ]

Signed for just $8 million in the summer of 2016, the 24-year-old German was thought of largely as a backup to Mignolet, and it’s been that way until just a few weeks ago. Having snatched the starting job from his Belgian counterpart after solid performances against Leicester City and Manchester City, Karius suddenly has a chance to not just lead Liverpool down the stretch run of a promising season, but potentially save the club millions of dollars this summer.

But could Karius really be the long-term option for Liverpool in goal? The sample size is small, but he’s showing promise the last few weeks.

The 2-0 win over Southampton was one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt.

His recognition to notice danger before the chance was truly created allowed him to charge strongly off his line and stop a shot by Pierre-Emile Hojberg. He initially came to collect a cross by Dusan Tadic, but once it was clear he wouldn’t reach it, instead of finding himself caught in no-man’s land, he again recognized a play before it happened and back-tracked in time to acrobatically stop James Ward-Prowse‘s header.

And finally, Karius is even involved in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal, correctly finding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in acres of space on the counter.

Against Tottenham, Karius came off his line to smother a big chance from Heung-Min Son with the Liverpool defense out of sorts, charging down the striker while stopping himself just short as to not concede a penalty. Karius’s ability to come off his line with precision will make Liverpool fans beam with glee, as Mignolet struggled mightily with that aspect of his game.

Karius has been a significant improvement over Simon Mignolet in general this season, with a significant advantage in his WhoScored rating (6.72 for Karius vs. 6.49 for Mignolet in Premier League play), while he also owns a far superior Squawka.com rating for the season (101.89 for Karius vs. 29.07 for Mignolet) thanks in large part to a better saves per goal tally (1.43 for Karius, 1.21 for Mignolet). He’s also not made a defensive error yet this season, according to Squawka, while Mignolet wrapped up three. The distribution numbers still favors Mignolet, but Karius has been able to have an effect up front in that department despite not having the consistency.

However, not all is where it needs to be. Against Manchester City, for example, Leroy Sane beat Karius at his near post from a tight angle with a shot a top goalkeeper should be saving.

Against Spurs, Karius did concede a penalty for coming out of net and fouling Harry Kane, but it was hard to blame the keeper after a laughable mis-kick from Dejan Lovren left him completely exposed and with few options.

The German will get plenty of chances to prove his worth, as Jurgen Klopp said he will likely stick with Karius in goal for Champions League play as well, giving him ample time to both impress and improve, or prove it’s all a fad.

Is Karius suddenly a hidden gem in the process of revealing itself to the Premier League and the world? Or is this a flash in the pan? If his form continues, will it be enough to allow Liverpool to focus its resources elsewhere this summer, or will they still feel compelled to reach into the coffers to improve at the position? It all remains to be seen, but the last few weeks have complicated the situation, if nothing else.

Van Dijk reacts to St. Mary’s booing, Southampton plight

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Virgil Van Dijk knows he’s played a role in Southampton’s rough season, and understands the booing of the St. Mary’s faithful.

[ RECAP: Saints 0-2 Liverpool ]

Then again, it’s easy to blow off the boos when your new team is knocking on the door to second place and the club you ditched sits in the relegation zone.

Van Dijk is widely perceived to have engineered his move to Liverpool, but claimed there’s a lot more to the story after the Reds beat Southampton 2-0 on Sunday.

And the defender said the booing, well, it was kinda fun (if “unfair”).

“You just enjoy it. It’s the only thing I think you can do. I think it is a bit unfair because no-one really knows what happened over the summer and the last few months but I just kept my head down and enjoyed it.”

Van Dijk also said he’s “definitely” worried about Southampton’s status as a Premier League club, that he “cares for the club” and has a lot of friends there.

It all sounds a little hollow.

Southampton 0-2 Liverpool: Salah, Firmino thrill

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  • Reds go third
  • Salah, Firmino each w/ goal, assist
  • Saints sink 18th

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah assisted on each other’s goals as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

The Reds are two points behind Manchester United for second in the Premier League, while Saints dip into the drop zone with 26 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool was ahead after six minutes, with Mohamed Salah receiving the luxury of a wide open Sadio Mane and Firmino. He chose the latter, and the latter chose to finish beyond the reach of Alex McCarthy. 1-0, Reds.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot deflected toward a diving McCarthy moments later.

Saints were on the verge of equalizing when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg trapped a diagonal ball in the 18, but Loris Karius came charging to make a fine save.

James Ward-Prowse swept a cross to the penalty spot, where Guido Carrillo forced a save out of Karius with a header. Moments later, Dusan Tadic sent one to Ward-Prowse, whose header was palmed out for a corner by Karius.

Saints were on the front foot for the remainder of the half, that is excepting Liverpool’s crucial second goal. Salah and Firmino worked a 1-2 which included a back heel from the Brazilian. 2-0, 42′.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ward-Prowse hit a hard free kick to the front post, and Hoedt couldn’t quite turn it past Karius as the match remained 2-0 in the 60th minute.

Salah collected a Firmino rebound off a Mane-inspired combination, but saw a rare miss hit the outside of the side netting.

Substitute Adam Lallana nearly found the side panel against his old team, but shot wide of the far post.