What are the most likely upsets in the FA Cup round of 16?

The world’s oldest cup competition began with an eye-popping 736 teams back in August, but now only 16 still have a chance to lift the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium on May 21.

There are the usual suspects, like Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United, and there are a few wildcards, like Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town.

Here is the fixture list (all times ET):

Saturday, Feb. 20

Arsenal vs. Hull City, 7:45 p.m.

Reading vs. West Brom, 10 a.m.

Watford vs. Leeds United, 10 a.m.

AFC Bournemouth vs. Everton, 12:15 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 21

Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United, 9 a.m.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace, 10 a.m.

Chelsea vs. Manchester City, 11 a.m.

Monday, Feb. 22

Shrewsbury Town vs. Manchester United, 2:45 p.m.

Which of these favorites are most likely to get upset and who will be as good as in for the quarterfinals?

Chalk either way

There are a couple of these matches that can’t end in an upset, simply because the sides are too evenly matched.

AFC Bournemouth vs. Everton — These two sides are separated by seven points and seven places in the Premier League table. Everton has the upper hand in the league table, but the Toffees have to visit the Vitality Stadium. This one could go either way. The last time these sides met was in Bournemouth in November, and it ended in a 3-3 draw.

Chelsea vs. Manchester City — Forget Chelsea’s dismal position in the table, anytime two big-money clubs meet, anything can happen.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace — Spurs are having a fine season, and playing at home, you’d have to make them the favorites. But these are both top-flight teams. No result is an upset.


Pay close attention

The other six matches have an element of upset potential, even if it’s a slim proposition at best.

Shrewsbury Town vs. Manchester United — This is a fascinating tie for a number of reasons. The Shrews are the lowest remaining team in the tournament, playing in League One. But they’re playing at home in front of a stadium that will be bursting at the seams of its 9,875 capacity.

Surely United will have enough to advance to the quarterfinals, but with this edition of the Red Devils, it’s hard to be sure of anything.

Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United — The Hammers are threatening the European places in the Premier League, and advanced to this round after knocking off Liverpool. Blackburn, on the other hand, sits in 18th place in the Championship and — with only a slight chance of promotion — will go all out to pull the upset.

You’d have to make West Ham the clear favorites, though. Even at Ewood Park.


Upset alert

Watford vs. Leeds United — Another Premier League vs. Championship clash is set for Vicarage Road. Leeds sits in 16th place in the Championship while Watford, pegged my many as a relegation candidate, sits comfortably in 10th place.

The history buff in me would like to see Leeds move on, but the realist in me doubts it will happen.

Arsenal vs. Hull City — Arsenal is making a run at the Premier League title, and playing in front of its home fans in this tie, it is heavily favored over the Championship side.

But Hull City is quietly having a very good season, sitting second in the Championship table. The Tigers have a talented roster and, on their day, may be able to give Arsenal a hard time.

Reading vs. West Brom — Reading is mired in mid-table in the Championship, which gives the Royals nothing better to do than to pour their hearts into pulling a cup upset at West Brom.

The Baggies, on the other hand, have one eye on the relegation zone. Just six points separates them from the drop, and that sort of thing can weigh a club down. A road trip to Reading for a cup tie is no easy task, and the Premier League side will need to be at its best to survive.

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.