Five of the last six FA Cup finals have featured a non-traditional power against a Premier League heavyweight, and that could very well continue this season.
Reading may be the only second-tier side remaining as the quarterfinals kickoff on Friday, but Watford and Crystal Palace haven’t been to a final in over 25 years. And West Ham has been to one final since 1980.
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Aston Villa, Hull City, Stoke City and Portsmouth all made the final in the past seven years, with Wigan Athletic actually knocking off Manchester City at Wembley in 2011.
So who has the best chance to take the next step, and move onto the semifinals?
Reading vs. Crystal Palace — Friday
These two haven’t met in a Cup tie since the 1953 FA Cup, when Palace advanced to the next round. So obviously they’ll carry that momentum into Friday.
The pick: Palace 3-2
Everton vs. Chelsea — Saturday
A rematch of the 2009 final, won by Chelsea 2-1, the Toffees will like their odds after taking four of six points from the Blues this season. Chelsea has won two of its last four matches at Goodison Park, but also played midweek in the Champions League.
The pick: Everton 2-0
Arsenal vs. Watford — Sunday
The Gunners are aiming for the first FA Cup 3-peat since 1886, and won the only match-up of these two Premier League sides this year 3-0 at Vicarage Road in October. In fact, Watford hasn’t even managed to take a point off Arsenal in six-straight matches dating back to 1988. That said, the Gunners played Tuesday against Hull City in the fifth-round replay, while Watford was off.
The pick: Arsenal 2-1
Manchester United vs. West Ham United — Sunday
Old Trafford has been a house of horrors for West Ham United in the last nine meetings between the two, with this December’s match the only draw in the bunch. The combined goals in those matches? 19-3. Much like Everton-Chelsea and Arsenal-Watford, this match will see the Red Devils going on two days rest against a well-recuperated Irons side.
The pick: West Ham 2-1