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FA Youth Cup

FA Youth Cup: Quarter-Final Preview

Manchester City's U18's line up before the FA Youth Cup clash against Blackburn U18's [Credit: Matt McNulty]

The FA Youth Cup has now reached the Quarter-Final stage of the competition with only four Premier League clubs remaining. This is a preview of the four matches that take place this week.

Ipswich Town vs West Ham United

After defeating Liverpool 2-0 in the fifth-round, Ipswich will have to go one step better to defeat a formidable West Ham side. West Ham are 15 points clear at the top of the U18 Premier League South, only losing two out of their 15 league games. However, these two losses have come in their last three games as they have been on the wrong end of 2-1 and 3-1 scorelines against Southampton and Chelsea respectively. Their last match on the weekend was a dominate display after they thrashed Norwich City 6-0 at home.

Ipswich are a category two academy and currently sit 7th in the U18 Professional Development League. They have had to work hard to get to this stage as they have been in the competition since the first-round. A win for the Tractor Boys would be their third Premier League scalp after beating Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in previous rounds.

Arsenal vs Cambridge United

This is one of two ties that sees category one opposition take on category three opposition. Cambridge have done remarkably well to get to this stage, seeing off Stevenage, Portsmouth, Colchester, Chelsea, and Sheffield Wednesday. Cambridge’s league form has been sub-standard, as they have won only seven of their 18 games in the EFL Youth Alliance Southeast division. Glenn McConnell will be keen to add to the seven goals he has scored in the competition so far and will be key to Cambridge’s chances.

Arsenal are one of the favourites to win this year’s competition and will be heavy favourites in this tie. The Gunners came back from 2-0 down to beat Watford 4-2 and will be hoping that they can ease past League Two Cambridge to secure their passage into the semi-finals. Arsenal have scored 13 goals in their three FA Youth Cup games so far this season, with the likes of Omari Benjamin and Amario Cozier-Duberry playing key roles in their success.

Preston North End vs Southampton

Preston North End secured their Quarter-Final place with a 3-2 win away at Luton Town. The Lilywhites currently sit 4th in the EFL Youth Alliance Northwest Division. However, they have been in sparkling form in the Youth Cup. This is Preston’s first match against Premier League opposition, representing their toughest test of the competition so far. They will be hoping that Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile and Kian Best will continue their goalscoring form as the duo have scored nine of Preston’s 11 Youth Cup goals.

Southampton will be looking to reach only their second FA Youth Cup final this season. The last time the Saints were in the final was in 2005, when they lost to Ipswich Town with the likes of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale part of the Southampton squad. Southampton have had a difficult run to the Quarter-Finals as they have already played two Premier League sides in Aston Villa and Fulham, who they beat 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. Dominic Ballard has been the star man for the Saints in the Youth Cup this season, in a run that includes his hat-trick away at Coventry City in the third-round.

Manchester City vs Oxford United

Manchester City have made 11 FA Youth Cup finals, a tally only bettered by Manchester United and Chelsea. They will be looking to make their 12th final this year and look in a good position to do so. City are seven points clear at the top of the U18 Premier League North and have only conceded one goal in the Youth Cup so far. Comfortable victories over Blackburn Rovers, Brighton & Hove Albion and Fleetwood Town have seen City cruise into the Quarter-Finals. The goals have been spread across the City team as they have six different scorers in the three games they have played so far. They will be confident of seeing past their opposition, especially at home.

Oxford United are currently 5th in the EFL Youth Alliance Southwest Division, winning only seven of their 17 league games so far. However, they have been impressive in the FA Youth Cup, defeating Cardiff City and Premier League Leeds United in the last two rounds. Gatlin O’Donkor has been a consistent performer, scoring five goals in the FA Youth Cup. The 18-year-old striker has also made 18 appearances for the Oxford first-team in League One, scoring two and assisting one.

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