FA Cup quarter-final buildup, European draws reaction and more – as it happened

Manchester City, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United enjoyed fascinating Champions League draws – as did Arsenal and Chelsea in the Europa League

OK, it's time to wrap up

Thanks for looking ahead to the weekend with us! Today’s highlights are thus:

Have a great weekend’s football, and whatever else you might be up to. Bye for now!

Nice line from Neil Harris, Millwall’s amiable manager, ahead of their tie with Brighton: “I don’t often miss the games themselves, but there’s always one or two a year where you feel ‘I’d love to be playing’ and Sunday will be one of those occasions.”

He was a great goalpoacher in his day. Can Millwall get past the last eight again?

I’m not certain how this is going to end, but my stab in the dark is: “not well.”

The Fiver has landed! The Fiver has landed!

Here’s a tie-by-tie analysis of those tantalising Champions League quarter-finals – courtesy of our football editor, Marcus Christenson:

Which one whets your appetite the most? I *love* Juve-Ajax.

Football (sort of) in Romania!

Here is a statement from three of football’s major governing bodies about the pitch invasions and violence we saw last weekend:

The FA, Premier League and EFL strongly condemn the reprehensible actions of supporters who entered the field of play last weekend. English football has worked hard over many years to ensure that our grounds are safe places. Everyone involved in staging a game deserves to enjoy the highest safety standards and we are determined to prevent these standards from being undermined.

It is essential that all players feel safe and supported every time they go on the pitch and there is absolutely no place for any type of behaviour that puts this at risk. We also acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of fans attend football matches to support their team in a positive manner and we will continue to work with those fans, clubs and stakeholders to generate the best possible atmosphere at games.

Anyone who attends a match to threaten this principle, either from the stands or by entering the field of play, will face the strongest possible sanctions. The FA, Premier League and EFL wholeheartedly promote the Football Supporters’ Federation’s ‘passion not poison’ call to respect opposition clubs and fans.

We encourage all supporters to carefully consider their behaviour, not only at this weekend’s Premier League, EFL and FA Cup matches, but at all games in the future.”

Football in Indonesia!

Are you At A Game this weekend? Which game? And why are you looking forward to it? Do send your emails in!

An earlier story about Arsenal’s pursuit of Monchi, for context:

Arsenal face competition from Sevilla for Monchi. News just in from our man Fabrizio Romano that Monchi, the feted director of football who recently left Roma and is being chased by Arsenal, has been contacted by his former club Sevilla. Unai Emery wants him in north London but there’s no agreement yet and we’re told he is seriously thinking about going back ...

Marco Silva is right behind Jordan Pickford despite recent rickets. Quotes here:

I don’t like to go on particularly one player. I think it’s not fair. I’m the first one here and my players are always behind me because I’m the first one to take all the responsibilities of what my players are doing on the pitch.

We knew before the match, he knew also when he played there at Newcastle, the atmosphere is always not the same to him. I can remember when he played here at home against Newcastle what the fans of Newcastle tried to do with him and he answered well.

I understand everything that people are saying about Jordan. Jordan has all my confidence, like Maarten (Stekelenburg) and Joao Virginia, our goalkeepers. What I want in Jordan is to keep working in the same way with the same desire, improving what we have to improve with him, with more emotional balance in some moments if he can do.

We as a team have to be different also. We have to react in a different way because if you look to the goals we conceded, we must do different in that moment.”


I’m sure he tried his best. Far worse, in my view, is the way in which the FA has disrespected its own competition by only using VAR in selected ties.

Word has it that the European Club Association has told FIFA its members will not play in a mooted 24-team Club World Cup. Do you like the idea?

Pep Guardiola has no concern should Manchester City be handed a transfer ban by Fifa, stating his current squad is “very good”.

City are under investigation from world football’s governing body for alleged malpractice regarding the signing of youth players and third-party ownership. They deny wrongdoing.

If the club are found guilty they could be blocked from acquiring players for two windows. Yet Guardiola said he would not be worried should this occur: “Of course I’d be OK. It’s [the squad] good, really good.”

The manager also stated John Stones was not fit for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea City, meaning the defender may not be available to England for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro after being named in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

“Stones is not ready, still he’s recovering,” said Guardiola. He added that, despite being on the bench for Wednesday’s win over Schalke, Stones was not available to play.

Nuno Espirito Santo knows *just* how big Wolves’ FA Cup tie with Manchester United is. Here are some words via the PA:

“It is the biggest game for the club for some time, we are aware of that,” said Nuno. Wolves have won the FA Cup four times, but not since their last triumph in 1960.

Asked if he was aware of the club’s history in the competition, Nuno said: “Of course, and we want to make it happen again. But there is a lot of hard work ahead to repeat what happened in the 40s, 50s and 60s. It was easier back then.”

Wolves face a rejuvenated United team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has won 14 and lost just two of his 18 matches in charge. “There are some changes but the quality is there,” said Nuno. “They are a very good team in a very good moment. The performances and results have been fantastic. The big moments they have had have been fantastic. Ole is doing a fantastic job.”

Paul Scholes may have left Oldham rather unexpectedly, but not to worry – Ole’s at the wheel up for a chat:

More from Guardiola – briefly anyway. He says City have plenty of #respect for Tottenham Hotspurs:

“We know each other quite well. We have played each other many times. We have respect.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola would not comment on reports Manchester City may be given a transfer ban. Stories on Friday suggested the Premier League champions could be banned from making signings in the next two transfer windows by Fifa for breaking rules related to the protection of youth players and third-party ownership. The club are already being investigated by the Football Association and Premier League for allegations related to youth transfers and financial fair play rules, with the latter also being looked at by European football’s governing body UEFA. That investigation could result in City being banned from the Champions League. “I said what I said last week. I was clear on my opinion. I don’t have any more comments,” Guardiola said on Friday. Asked if his squad could withstand a transfer ban, he added: “The squad is really good.”


Sad news from North Ferriby, who have been wound up following a petition at a court hearing on Friday morning. The Press Association has more:

As a result of the legal action over unpaid debts, Saturday’s match against Bamber Bridge has been cancelled and the remaining fixtures of the season will not be fulfilled. The Villagers were bottom of the Northern Premier League club with just 10 points from 33 league games, and looked set for relegation back out of the seventh tier.

A brief statement on the club website read: “North Ferriby United was wound-up this morning. The club will not now be allowed to play any more fixtures, therefore, tomorrow’s game and the remaining fixtures will not be fulfilled. It will be placed in the hands of a liquidator.

“The club would like to thank supporters and sponsors for their support over the years. There will be no further statement at this time.”

The club was formed in 1934. North Ferriby won the FA Trophy at Wembley in 2015 and came through the National League North play-offs in 2015-16.


Olivier Giroud has not given up hope of regaining a place in Chelsea’s Premier League team on the back of prolific form in European competition as the World Cup winner seeks to extend his stay for a further year.

“I’m a competitor and I want to play every single game and to be happy on the pitch. I have been through a lot of tough moments in my career. I just want to enjoy playing my football after winning the World Cup last summer. I want to take maximum pleasure on the pitch. That’s why when I play I try to enjoy the game as much as I can.”

Europa League draws

It’s quarter-final and semi-final time!

Here’s your match preview on Wolves v Manchester United on Saturday night:

Your Champions League draw story.

Jürgen Klopp was asked in his press conference to preview Liverpool’s trip to Fulham whether he was concerned about how he will be remembered if he doesn’t start winning some more trophies soon. Here’s his response:

I’m not searching for being remembered in 50 years. I just love what I do and that’s all I need to be a happy person. God will judge me one day, what other people say about me I’m not interested.


Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals set

Last eight:

Ajax v Juventus
Liverpool v Porto
Tottenham v Manchester City
Barcelona v Manchester United

Last four:

Tottenham or Manchester City v Ajax or Juventus
Barcelona or Manchester United v Liverpool or Porto


With Manchester City playing Swansea in the FA Cup this weekend, Liverpool can go top of the Premier League table if they beat Fulham on Sunday. They will have to do it without their captain Jordan Henderson, though. He’s not fit enough to play after suffering a twisted ankle at Bayern Munich.

Champions League draw! Over here!

This is like the bit where everyone’s inexplicably crammed into the three square metres of your kitchen. Click on:

Eni Aluko has written for us, and especially for you, on Ronaldo and Juve:

User avatar for MartinBelam Guardian staff

You've forgotten the FA Trophy semi-finals in there mate ;-)

Too ... Many ... Cups! No, not true, the FA Trophy is great – I’ve been to a few finals at Wembley and it’s a day out I’d highly recommend. In our ropey party hosting analogy, it’s the amiable old schoolfriend who’ll rub along nicely enough with your New Friends with no risk of being a loose cannon rather than the mate of a mate who makes up the numbers but vomits upstairs. Anyway. The games are:

Leyton Orient v AFC Telford (Sat 3pm); Fylde v Stockport (Sat 3pm)

Those are first legs. There are good stories around all four clubs there – let’s see who makes it through ...


On the topic of that Watford v Palace tie – I really enjoyed this interview by Simon Burnton with Adrian Mariappa, and I’m confident you will, too:


Today feels a bit like when you host a party and never actually get to exchange more than a cursory word with anyone you’ve invited. Lovely to see you and how’s life but what did I do with the vol au vents? We smoothly segue from those midweek European ties to a weekend of Premier League, FA Cup, Championship action and much more – only we don’t, quite, because those big Champions League and Europa League draws begin around 90 minutes from now, in theory at least, and all eyes will be on those. I’ll run separate blogs on those – so please regard this one as home, the control centre, a touchstone, a beacon in the dark, where you can air your boldest thoughts and deepest fears about *any aspect* of the weekend’s football ahead.

I’ll run through some of the fixtures we look forward to.

FA Cup quarter-finals

Watford v Crystal Palace (Sat 12.15pm); Swansea v Manchester City (Sat 5.20pm); Wolves v Manchester United (Sat 7.55pm); Millwall v Brighton (Sun 2pm)

Premier League

West Ham v Huddersfield (Sat 3pm); Burnley v Leicester (Sat 3pm); Bournemouth v Newcastle (Sat 3pm); Fulham v Liverpool (Sun 2.15pm); Everton v Chelsea (Sun 4.30pm)

Championship (selected)

Leeds v Sheffield United (Sat 12.30pm); Rotherham v Norwich (Sat 3pm); Aston Villa v Middlesbrough (Sat 3pm); Brentford v West Brom (Sat 3pm)

OK, that gets us started so let’s crack on. Are you at a game anywhere this weekend? Get your emails and tweets in – addresses above – and off we go ...