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Van Gaal and Martinez fighting to save their jobs and other weekend talking points

Manchester United come up against Everton in the first FA Cup semi-final while Leicester look to get their title push back on track in the Premier League.

Manchester United haven't won the FA Cup since 2004.
Manchester United haven't won the FA Cup since 2004.
Image: Peter Byrne

Updated at 12.00 

1. FA Cup success still may not be enough for Van Gaal 

LOUIS VAN GAAL will be hoping that leading Manchester United to their first FA Cup in 12 years will go some way to seeing him in the Old Trafford hot seat next season, but defeat on Sunday would leave the former Netherlands manager on the brink of the sack once again.

United must overcome Everton in the semi-finals, but victory in the cup may still not be enough for Van Gaal to save his job with Champions League qualification out of their hands.

Jose Mourinho will no doubt have his Everton hat on come Saturday, with Roberto Martinez needing all the support he can get. Martinez led Wigan to FA Cup glory in 2013 and will believe leading the Toffees to their first silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 1995, will guarantee him avoiding the chop, despite an uninspiring league campaign.

2. Alan Pardew looking to save his season against Watford in the FA Cup

At the halfway point of this Premier League season, Crystal Palace were riding high in the Premier League sitting in fifth place, four points behind Tottenham in fourth, but Alan Pardew’s side have only won once more in the following 16 matches leaving them languishing in 16th place.

If it wasn’t for their run in the FA Cup, Alan Pardew’s position would have been under more pressure than it has been and defeat on Sunday will leave the Eagles reflecting on a season that drifted away. Pardew also enjoyed a successful first year in charge of Newcastle but his tenure in the North East ended in turmoil, he will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

Watford themselves haven’t maintained their early form which made them one of this season’s surprise packages but retaining their Premier League status was always their main aim. The Hornets never looked like they were going to be sucked into a relegation dogfight and will be stern opponents for Palace on Sunday.

3. Newcastle need to start picking points on the road

Since beating Spurs at White Hart Lane in the middle of December, Newcastle have gone on to lose their next nine away Premier League matches.

With only one more away match against Aston Villa to come, the Magpies need to start showing more resilience away from St James’ Park with the draw at home to Manchester City proving further evidence that Rafa Benitez is starting to have a positive influence on the Newcastle players.

Newcastle could pounce as Benitez returns to Anfield to meet a Liverpool side with potentially one eye on the Europa League semi-final Villarreal in midweek.

4. The Foxes need to come out attacking against the Swans

If Claudio Ranieri could have picked one team to face on Sunday, you can be sure that Swansea will be high on the list.

Leicester City v West Ham United - Barclays Premier League - King Power Stadium

Leicester will be without the suspended Jamie Vardy who had regained his scoring touch in recent weeks with five goals in the last five games for club and country, having been without a goal for the previous five matches.

Leonardo Ulloa is expected to replace the England international but the burden of goals will be more likely passed to the influential Riyad Mahrez who himself has scored only twice in the last nine Premier League games.

The Swans are clear of the relegation zone with one of the few teams in the Premier League with little to play for between now and the middle of May. However, a couple more wins could see the Welsh club jump a couple of places in the table and earn a couple of extra million for the summer’s transfer kitty so motivation may not be as low it would seem.

5. Sunderland to draw a line in another underwhelming Arsenal season

If Newcastle fail to beat Liverpool, Sunderland will come into Sunday’s encounter knowing that a point against Arsenal on Sunday will leapfrog the Black Cats over Norwich and out of the relegation zone.

Four out of Sunderland’s last six games have ended in draws, with Sam Allardyce well aware of the psychological boost his side will get if they move out of the drop zone.

Arsenal come into the game looking to secure a Champions League place, and more specifically a top three place to avoid an early season play-off.

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About the author:

Shane Costello

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