The FA Cup is back for another weekend of potential upsets and second-string Premier League teams.
The oldest football competition in the world returns on Friday night with a tie that will entice the romantics among us.
Premier League side Wolves travel to Victory Park to take on National League North outfit Chorley in what promises to be a memorable night for the home side irrespective of the result.
Jamie Vermiglio’s side has been on an astonishing run so far in this competition, defeating three EFL clubs on their way to the last 32.
Last time out, they comfortably disposed of Wayne Rooney’s Derby County albeit ‘The Rams’ were depleted due to an outbreak of Covid-19 throughout their senior squad.
The home side will be hoping that they can replicate the heroics of the 1986 team who famously defeated tonight’s opponents in the first-round of the FA Cup in 1986.
Wolves will be disappointed with their start to the Premier League season. Having finished 7th in each of the last two campaigns, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has failed to reach those lofty heights so far this season, currently languishing in a lowly 14th place.
The Midlands side will see the FA Cup as their most realistic hope of making Europe next season and winning their first trophy under the Portuguese’ stewardship. They will expect to progress to the fifth-round with a comfortable victory over their hosts and set up an all Premier League tie with either Southampton or Arsenal.
At lunchtime on Saturday, St. Mary’s Stadium will be the venue for the first of three all Premier League fourth-round matches as Southampton welcome Arsenal to the south coast.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints side are currently one place above their opponents in the Premier League, sitting comfortably in 9th position. The pressure will be off the home side for tomorrow’s encounter but Hasenhuttl will be hoping that a strong cup run can complement their unexpectedly good start to the season.
Arsenal are aiming to win the FA Cup for the fifth time since 2014 and will have aspirations of retaining the trophy that they won against the odds last year.
If they manage to navigate a tricky away day against an in-form Southampton side, Mikel Arteta and Arsenal fans alike will have their sights set on a second major trophy of his tenure which could salvage what has been another disappointing season for ‘The Gunners’.
The pick of the three o’clock games on Saturday is Doncaster Rovers trip to the London Stadium to take on a West Ham United side who are looking to win the FA Cup for the first time in 41 years.
Manager David Moyes has never won a major trophy in England but did make the final of this competition with Everton in 2009. He will see success in this year’s competition as a realistic target for ‘The Hammers’.
The East-End club is well placed to challenge for the European places in the Premier League where they sit in 7th place, two points off the top four. Doncaster will have one eye on their crucial midweek game with AFC Wimbledon so expect to see a considerably weakened side take to the field tomorrow afternoon.
West Ham should have more than enough in their locker to coast into the last 16 of a competition their fans are desperate to win.
Red on Red
The pick of the fourth-round ties sees Jurgen Klopp’s out of form Liverpool team make the short trip to Old Trafford to take on their bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday evening in a repeat of last weekend’s goalless Premier League draw at Anfield.
The two clubs form could not be more contrasting presently. Liverpool have managed a measly return of three points from their previous five league games, including sobering defeats to Southampton and Burnley.
Meanwhile, Man Utd have been in imperious form as of late.
Seven points from tough away games against Burnley, Liverpool and Fulham have taken much of the pre-Christmas pressure off manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and has catapulted ‘The Red Devils’ to the top of the Premier League table.
With Liverpool on the brink of being pushed out of the race to retain their Premier League crown, Sunday’s derby result will be of far more significance to them than it will be for their opponents. As United look to continue their momentum and Liverpool look to find theirs if there is only room for one game in your calendar this weekend make sure that you sit down and watch round 2 of this heavyweight clash.
FA Cup Fourth Round fixtures
- Chorley vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Saturday-15:00 (unless otherwise stated)
- Southampton vs Arsenal (12:15)
- Barnsley vs Norwich City
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs Blackpool
- Milwall vs Bristol City
- Sheffield United vs Plymouth Argyle
- Swansea City vs Nottingham Forest
- West Ham United vs Doncaster Rovers
- Cheltenham Town vs Manchester City (17:30)
- Chelsea vs Luton Town (12:00)
- Brentford vs Leicester City (14:30)
- Fulham vs Burnley (14:30)
- Manchester United vs Liverpool (17:00)
- Everton vs Sheffield Wednesday (20:00)
- Wycombe Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur