Wigan are the last team from outside the Premier League in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. They are also the last side not playing in the top division to win the trophy. It could be a good time to play at home against Southampton because the visitors have just sacked their manager and the club is in disarray. Wigan have a great chance to progress to a semi-finals at Wembley and they are the one outsiders who can do the business in the four ties over the weekend.
There are often upsets in the early rounds when ties bring together teams from League 1 and League 2 and Premier League outfits on the road. Wigan are currently third in League 1 and Southampton are 17th in the Premier League but only one point above the relegation places. The tie has the potential for a classic upset, a team riding high in a lower league playing at home again opponents struggling in the Premier League. Team selection will be key to the outcome.
Both teams would not refuse a semi-final and possible final at Wembley but both have other priorities. Wigan were relegated from the Premier League in the year they won the Cup and have now dropped even further down the structure and are one tier below the championship. The stadium and infrastructure is geared to top flight football and moving back into the Championship is more important than the Cup. Wigan can beat Southampton in the last eight of the FA Cup.
It’s not the end of the world if Wigan miss out on promotion as there will be no material effect on the finances. However, it would be a huge blow for Southampton if they faced the nightmare scenario of relegation to the Championship. They were poor in losing 3-0 at Newcastle last weekend and the board reacted by sacking the manager. Statistically teams do no better with a new man in charge and they are struggling in the league for a reason and that’s not usually related to the manager.
If Wigan make the last four it will be an exception to the rule. The cream rises to the top in the FA Cup which is dominated by the Premier League superpowers. The average league finishing position of the Cup winners in the Premier League era is fourth while the runners-up usually come from the upper echelons of the hierarchy. Southampton cannot afford to lose their Premier League status and they might take their eye off the ball against Wigan and the home team can progress.
Winning the FA Cup would not negate the damage caused by Manchester United being eliminated by Sevilla in the last 16 of the Champions League. United only had to win the second leg to progress but they played poorly and Sevilla’s win did not flatter the Spanish team. Jose Mourinho must now get the players focused on the visit of Brighton to Old Trafford in the FA Cup. A home win is the most likely outcome but it could be a one-goal victory which was the objective against Sevilla that did not look like being met.
Tottenham should have too much for an improved Swansea and the class of the home team should prevail. Leicester can beat Chelsea at home and continue the process of winning the FA Cup for the first time even though in four year they were the losing finalists. However, Wigan could win the Cup and be promoted which would have a good synergy with 2013 when they went in the opposite direction and won the Cup.