FA CUP QUARTER-FINALS PREVIEW: Kompany returns to the Etihad

FA CUP QUARTER-FINALS PREVIEW: Vincent Kompany returns to Man City with red-hot Burnley, fourth-tier Grimsby are out to make history while Fulham can ruin Manchester United’s treble hopes

  • The FA Cup quarter-finals take place this weekend with exciting ties all round
  • Vincent Kompany returns to Manchester City in opposition dugout with Burnley
  • Grimsby are looking to become the first fourth tier side to reach the semi-finals 

We’re into the business end of the FA Cup and usually this is the stage where the big boys really stake their claim for the trophy.

But the quarter-final line-up looks slightly different this year, with only half of the teams from the top flight and three of four ties including lower-league opposition.

Vincent Kompany takes his Burnley team to Manchester City, who he captained through their first golden era, while Grimsby fans will travel in their numbers to Brighton.

We’ll have at least one Championship side in the semi-final, while Carabao Cup winners host Fulham in the final tie of the weekend.

Here, Sportsmail gives you the team news, lowdown on the minnows and assesses how likely a shock is in each fixture…

Vincent Kompany will take his Championship runaway leaders to the Etihad this weekend

Grimsby could produce one of the all-time shocks of the FA Cup if they beat Brighton

Manchester City v Burnley. 5.45pm Saturday, Etihad Stadium, BBC One 

The lowdown

Vincent Kompany returns to Manchester City with his side 19 points clear of third place in the Championship. Indeed, the Clarets have lost just twice in the league — none of which at Turf Moor. Burnley averaged 39 per cent possession last term but, since Kompany took over, the Belgian has transformed them into an attacking team with an average of 64 per cent. Burnley won the FA Cup in 1914 but these sides’ last meeting in the competition was in 2019, when City won 5-0. The player to watch is Saints loanee Nathan Tella.

Players to watch 

Anass Zaroury cost Burnley just £4million and was called up by Morocco this week after a fine season. The 22-year-old looks to get on the ball at every opportunity and is in the top decile for passes received per 90 and expected assists (xA).

How likely is a shock?

Burnley will fancy themselves here but City look up for the Cup this year. 3/5.

Anass Zaroury has been one of Burnley’s standout performers this season and is one to watch

Pep Guardiola said on Friday that Kompany being in the opposition dugout made him feel old 

Sheffield United v Blackburn Rovers. 12pm Sunday, Bramall Lane, ITV1 

The lowdown

Blackburn are one of six teams in England’s top four tiers to never play at the new Wembley. The odds are stacked slightly against them to change that here but Rovers travel to South Yorkshire in fine form having won seven of their last eight games. Jon Dahl Tomasson is the boss and Rovers have never been past the last eight of the FA Cup in 12 attempts. Sheffield United are second in the Championship under Paul Heckingbottom and star man is Iliman Ndiaye. Watch out for two Manchester City loanees Tommy Doyle and James McAtee.

Players to watch

It was just a year ago that it felt Ben Brereton Diaz was the be all and end all of all things Rovers, but now the Chile international is not a guaranteed starter. The dynamic winger duo of Tyrhys Dolan and Sorba Thomas are fantastic footballers, while Sammi Szmodics is adding goals and assists from his central role. John Buckley and Lewis Travis form a balanced midfield double-act.

How likely is a shock?

Both in the same division so not a ‘shock’ but let’s go with five out of five! 5/5.

Paul Heckingbottom is bidding to take Sheffield United to the semi-finals of the FA Cup

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side are in brilliant form and have a chance of springing a shock

Brighton v Grimsby, 2.15pm Sunday, Amex Stadium, BBC One

The lowdown

Grimsby fans are having the time of their life in the FA Cup this year and took more than 4,000 fans to Southampton as they knocked out the Premier League side. With some Seagulls fans talking about Wembley already, Mariners might fancy their chances of an upset. Manager Paul Hurst played over 400 games for Rotherham in his career and his side are 15th in League Two, 75 places below Brighton. Watch out for Grimsby’s inflatable Harry Haddocks, which were out in good force at St Mary’s. Another win for the small fry?

Players to watch

Delphlyx, who are Mail Sport partners in football data, inform us that 21-year-old centre back Andy Smith is the Grimsby player we should keep an eye on – in this match and beyond. He is a proactive centre back who is capable of making life uncomfortable for attackers and his energy could be key to Grimsby’s chance of success. Going forward, local lad Harry Clifton has eight goals and four assists this season. John McAtee, brother of Manchester City kid James, can provide threat on loan from Luton.

How likely is a shock?

A great day out for Grimsby but Brighton will be too professional here, sorry! 1/5.

Niall Maher celebrates after Grimsby scored their second at Southampton in the fifth round

The celebrations were wild – including plenty of Harry Haddocks – but they seem unlikely to spring another south coast shock

Manchester United v Fulham, 4.30pm Sunday, Old Trafford, ITV1

The lowdown

With the Carabao Cup in the bag already, Manchester United will fancy their chances in the FA Cup and are just one game away from Wembley again. But Fulham mean business this season and, despite a terrible showing against Arsenal last weekend — with star midfielder Joao Palhinha missing — they will not let United roll them over.

Fulham have reached the quarter-final nine times but have lost each one, most recently in back-to-back years 2009 and 2010. Twelve-time winners United have not won the FA Cup since 2016.

Players to watch 

Manor Solomon has been one of the Premier League’s best players in the last few weeks and the former Shakhtar Donetsk man has scored in five of his last six games. There is no Casemiro for Manchester United so former Red Devils star Andreas Pereira could cause a problem with his runs from deep.

How likely is a shock?

Again, same division, but it’ll be a big upset if Fulham win at Old Trafford. Why not? 3/5.

Manor Soloman has been impressive for Fulham this year and could cause United bother

Casemiro’s suspension means Andreas Pereira could trouble his former side on Sunday

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