The only remaining side below the Premier League left standing in the FA Cup will attempt to reach a second successive Wembley semi-final on Friday evening as Reading take on Crystal Palace and their former manager Alan Pardew.
For whatever reason, the Royals always seem to perform exceptionally well in this competition, reaching the latter stages on a number of occasions in recent years. After wins over Huddersfield Town and Walsall in their opening two matches, their performance level increased considerably in round five as they came from behind to register a comprehensive victory over West Bromwich Albion, so there will be no reason to fear Palace here.
As for their league form, a five-match unbeaten run to an end with defeat at Huddersfield on Tuesday, a result that was perhaps partially down to the Berkshire side having half an eye on this encounter. Firmly in mid-table and with the Championship play-off places out of reach, the FA Cup is very much the primary focus for boss Brian McDermott, who is three months into his second spell in charge at the Madejski Stadium.
Crystal Palace have found solace in the FA Cup since the turn of the year as it has been their only source of wins. Having sunken from a position where they were challenging among the Premier League’s top six, they have slipped right down into the bottom half although there is still a wide enough gap to the bottom three to be panicking just yet. Nonetheless, this represents a great opportunity to win a trophy, so they will be desperate for more than one reason to come out on top here.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles respond to the devastating blow of losing to the 10 men of Liverpool right at the death last time out, in circumstances which – however controversial – underlined their current vulnerability. It will be an impressive show of character if they manage to make it to the last four, but a Reading side spearheaded by the experienced Yann Kermorgant will provide stern opposition.
The long-serving Hal Robson-Kanu and midfielder Oliver Norwood are out for Reading, but otherwise they have few injury concerns.
Wayne Hennessey has a race against time in order to be fit enough to return to the Palace goal, while Connor Wickham is also hoping to play a part after missing out against Liverpool.