We’re into the thick of another FA Cup weekend.
Wolves got things underway on Friday night and were made to work for a place in the FA Cup fifth round by sixth-tier Chorley Town.
A first-half goal from Vitinha gave the Premier League side a 1-0 away to the team currently ninth in the National League North.
The only all-Premier League tie of the day starts today’s programme of fourth-round ties as Southampton welcome Arsenal to St. Mary’s from 12.15 pm.
Three top-flight sides will be hoping to avoid defeat to lower league opposition from 3 pm.
Brighton entertain League One Blackpool, another League one side – Plymouth – make the long trip to Sheffield United while West Ham welcome Doncaster to the London Stadium.
Manchester City are away to League Two opposition from 5.30 pm, with Pep Guardiola’s side taking on Cheltenham Town.
We’ve reviewed the full slate of fixtures for this weekend here, but ahead of today’s games, here’s what some of the managers have been saying.
Pep Guardiola, Man City
City boss Pep Guardiola admits he’s had to do extra homework to prepare for their FA Cup fourth-round tie at Cheltenham this evening.
Coronavirus restrictions in the ground mean City will be using the bar area as their dressing room.
Guardiola hopes their opponents don’t try any underhand tactics in a bid to gain an advantage.
“I only ask to Cheltenham, please don’t leave beers in the bar, please before the game. We’ll be delighted to change in the bar, but no alcohol here because we want to win the game, be in the perfect warmup and the perfect condition.”
At least he sees the funny side to it.
Chris Wilder, Sheffield United
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admits the FA Cup is a welcome distraction from their Premier League troubles.
The top flight’s bottom club host League One Plymouth in the fourth round of the competition later.
Wilder says he’ll be giving his players a basic message as they bid to avoid an upset.
“Play well, give yourself an opportunity to win the game of football, that’s all I’m looking for. It’s pretty simplistic. Play well, as we did at Bristol Rovers and we give ourselves an opportunity to get a result.”
That may read as the bar being set low for Sheffield United but for a side that are destined for the drop barring a miracle, a win at any cost would be a welcome boost.
Defeat to Plymouth may see Wilder’s position considered.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is determined to defend their FA Cup title in order to bring some joy to supporters during the coronavirus pandemic.
The north London club continues their defence of the trophy against Southampton this lunchtime.
Arteta says winning games is about more than just football.
“Personally, to deliver that to the club (the FA Cup). In a really difficult year again when we started with this pandemic, just to be able to provide some happiness to our fans is all about the job. Just to make some people happy and proud of what we do.”
Considering they’ve solved their Ozil dilemma and have turned around a string of poor performances before Christmas, a solid FA Cup run would be most beneficial for a side stuck tenth in the table.
David Moyes, West Ham
West Ham boss David Moyes knows his team will have to be at their best to avoid an FA Cup upset later.
They host League One side Doncaster, who have won seven of their last eight games in all competitions.
Moyes says the clubs being two divisions apart in the football pyramid means nothing in a one-off fixture.
“I don’t think there’s any game in the FA Cup which you can turn up to that you’re going to win and you roll over. For some reason, it inspires the underdog. We’ve been really professional, we’ve gone about our jobs in the right manner and we’ll try and do that again.”
“But obviously, it’s a big day for them (Doncaster).”
And for football fans, there’s nothing we love to see more in the FA Cup than a good giant killing.
Get updates and goal alerts from all the FA Cup games of the day on Scoreline this afternoon with Shane O’Keeffe and Robbie Dowling.