Scorem 20 – Cup Fever

The fact that Ched Evans has been demoted to only the second most hated sex offender in football, managerial scuffles are now frequent occurrences and players have decided that footballers don’t have a bad enough reputation as it is and so spitting needs to be added to the CV indicates that the Premier League hasn’t had the best of weeks. Good job there’s the FA Cup to salvage what little dignity there is left of the English game.

Bradford v Reading

If this match was against one of England’s top dogs, you might fancy a Bantams win. But beating a Championship opponent – where’s the headline going to come from? Where’s the challenge? What’s the point in that? Considering Bradford have defeated the likes of Sunderland, Arsenal, Chelsea and Villa in past seasons’ cup competitions, seeing off Reading is barely something to get out of bed for. The Royals must handle Bradford’s answer to Karim Benzema, John Stead, if they want to progress. They’ve knocked out Derby, Reading and Cardiff on their travels in the cup though, and so may relish the chance to face lower-league opposition. Then again, a trip up the M1 to play in front of 30,000 riled-up Yorkshiremen may not be as appetising as first thought.

Aston Villa v West Brom

Now you may be thinking that at half five on a Saturday afternoon, there are plenty of other things you’d rather do than watch English football’s equivalent of listening to your grandma talk about “when she was a girl”. Jonathan Greening’s hair is generally more memorable than most of The Baggies’ seasons and while Villa have occasionally dabbled with relegation and accidentally qualified for the Europa League once, they’ve predominately been a mid-table side. However, not only is this an FA Cup quarter-final and a local derby, but these two have also averaged nearly four goals a game in their last five meetings. Add the fact that Tank Top Tim has got a point to prove after wrongly thinking that he was Bertie Big B0llocks at Spurs and the fact that Villa beat Albion on Tuesday and this tie seems like it will be nothing less than an enthralling encounter. Goalless but enthralling.

Liverpool v Blackburn

Rovers have strolled through to the quarters this season, beating Charlton 2-1 before demolishing Premier League outfits Stoke and Swansea 4-1 and 3-1 respectfully. I mean come on – when have Stoke ever conceded four goals in a match? Never. Not once in their history. That may be a lie but nevertheless hitting four past them is impressive. If Rovers have strolled through, Liverpool have kind of tripped, hit every hurdle along the way and just about stumbled over the finish line. Then again, they’ve been on seriously good form recently and if there was any sentimentality in football, then Gerrard will lift the FA Cup trophy on his birthday at Wembley. But as my penalty miss in the Under 8’s Junior Harrogate and District League Cup Final shoot-out taught me; football can be cruel.

United v Arsenal

Yes, they’re getting the results, but you could put any team up against United at the moment and expect to get a close game. Seriously, take your pick, any team… Any team, that is, except for Arsenal. The fat kid gets put in goal. England will never again win a World Cup. Man United always beat Arsenal. This is just how some things are. The Gunners have beaten the Mancs just once in the last fifteen matches (1-0 in 2011) and haven’t won at Old Trafford in nine years. So if there are Gooners reading this, why not just save the time, money and yet more potential embarrassment and just stay down in London?