Considering that only three Championship teams reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup last season, a 100% increase in that level combined with one guaranteed place in the Quarter Finals represents an improvement.
I’ve got a hunch that the winner of Swansea v Brentford might not be the last second tier club left in the Cup – and who knows what might happen after that, especially if the draw for the Quarter Finals in favourable.
Before we go any further, I’ll be covering Millwall’s game at Doncaster Rovers at Buzzin’ League One football and due to a combination of factors I’ll be limiting this post to the FA Cup only.
One of the interesting aspects of this weekend’s ties is how many of the second tier clubs left in the competition haven’t reached this stage for a while.
QPR v Watford (this evening, 7:45pm, BT Sport 2)
First meeting in the competition, which surprised me. Will be the ninth meeting between the clubs since 2000; Watford have only won twice (3-1 December 2010), first meeting for almost five years. First time QPR have got this far since 1997 largely because their home form in the competition is awful; they haven’t reached the quarter finals since 1995 and haven’t won in the Championship at Loftus Road since Boxing Day.
Brighton v Derby (Saturday 12:30pm, BT Sport 2)
Although this will be their fourth encounter in the cup, it’s the first since a Third Round game in January 1961 that Brighton won 3-1 at the old Goldstone Ground. The last league meeting was a couple of years ago and the last time the Rams won at Brighton was the 2014 playoff semi final: they also won the corresponding league game in the previous August. The Rams have been regulars at this stage in recent seasons but haven’t gone beyond it since 1999.
Bristol City v Wolves (Sunday 1pm, BT Sport 2)
Only other meeting in the FA cup was at Molyneux 46 years ago when Wolves won by a single goal and went on to reach the semi finals before losing to eventual runners -up Leeds. Wolves have won half of their last six visits to Ashton Gate, all three wins coming since 2010 including a dramatic victory in December 2016. City haven’t got this far for 18 years and haven’t reached the Sixth Round since 1974 – for those of you with long memories, that was the season the Robins beat Leeds United in a replay at Elland Road.
Swansea v Brentford (Sunday 3pm, no TV coverage)
It probably should not come as a huge shock to see that the tie that guarantees at least one Championship club a quarter final spot doesn’t get any TV coverage. Third meeting in the competition, although once again you’ve got to go back to the early seventies for the last one which Swansea won at Griffin Park after a draw at the Vetch Field. Swansea got this far last season before losing to Spurs in the next round, but Brentford haven’t reached this round since 2006 and it’s been 30 years since they got any further.
Back next weekend, if there any upsets I’ll update this post.