With the FA Cup fourth round due to commence on Friday evening with Derby County taking on the mighty Manchester United, take a look at some of the biggest ties you don’t want to miss out on this weekend. Here I’ve teamed up with Sbat to give some football previews for all the major ties this weekend.
Derby County v Manchester United
As previously mentioned, Louis van Gaal takes his side to promotion-chasing Championship side Derby County on Friday evening, in a tie which has banana skin written all over it. It’s pretty well documented that Manchester United have struggled to get a grasp of consistent results and performances this season, and are a regular target for criticism across most platforms. It will be the first time Paul Clement will be able to test himself against one of the world’s most reputable managers, and it will be interesting to see how he fares after a successful start to his managerial career, having previously worked with Carlo Ancelotti. After losing 4-1 to top six rivals Burnley on Monday night, the Rams will be heavily motivated to bounce back with a performance – not that any extra incentives are needed for an FA Cup tie against Man United.
Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off sees Tottenham make the trip to League One strugglers Colchester United. Eight-time winners of the FA Cup, Spurs have the third most successful record of all-time in this competition, although their last win came back in 1991 – 25 years ago. With Colchester currently 22nd in the third tier and seven points adrift of safety, a cup run may be the only thing for supporters to cherish in what has been a hugely disappointing season of struggle yet again. Remarkably, this is the first time these two sides have ever met in their entire history, with Colchester never playing in the top flight since their inception in 1937. Mauricio Pochettino is continuing to enhance his reputation at White Hart Lane, but has still not won a trophy in his managerial career, and given what the FA Cup means to Spurs as a club, there may not be a better one for him to kick off with.
Arsenal v Burnley
Holders Arsenal are of course looking to make it a triple crown of FA Cup’s this season after winning the trophy in 2014 and 2015, and face Championship side Burnley at the Emirates in their second step to a historic treble. Burnley however will come into this tie full of confidence after defeating fellow promotion hopefuls Derby County 4-1 at Turf Moor, much to the delight of manager Sean Dyche. Arsène Wenger has emphatically ended his side’s trophy drought in the past two seasons with two cups, but it is the big one in the Premier League that he will have his sights intensely on, with this season presenting itself as their best opportunity to win it since 2004. With Alexis Sánchez returning to fitness and Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck all to come, they have every chance of completing the double this season.
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Manchester City face Aston Villa in an all-Premier League FA Cup fourth round tie at Villa Park, the second time they have travelled away from home to a top-flight side in this season’s competition. The FA Cup has surprisingly proved to be somewhat of a turning point for Villa this season, who since drawing away to Wycombe Wanderers in the third round have not lost; a run which currently stands at five matches. The confrontation between both Villa players and supporters in the aftermath of that clash has potentially turned into a wake-up call for the club, who had previously not won in the Premier League since the opening day. City have been hot and cold for much of the season, perhaps reflective of the speculation linking Pep Guardiola with the manager’s job. Having not won the FA Cup since 2011 – a trophy which sparked a series of success at the Etihad – and if they were to reach the final this time around, could prove to be Manuel Pellegrini’s final game in charge.
Portsmouth v Bournemouth
League Two Portsmouth entertain AFC Bournemouth at Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon in what looks set to be a feisty south coast derby. The two sides last met back in 2013 – when both were in League One – with Bournemouth getting the better of their opponents with a win and a draw from their two meetings. Pompey won the FA Cup back in 2008, beating Cardiff City 1-0 in the final thanks to Kanu’s close-range goal; a day which must feel an absolute age ago for the Fratton Park faithful. That same season the Cherries were relegated from League One via a 10-point deduction for entering administration. Eight years later, and it is Portsmouth who are in the fourth tier after three relegations, whilst Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are enjoying the bright lights of the Premier League after three promotions, with each side suffering an incredible contrast in fortunes in less than a decade.
Liverpool v West Ham United
Liverpool meet West Ham at Anfield on Saturday, with the Hammers arguably the favourites to progress having completed the double over the Reds in the Premier League already this season. With a 3-0 win on Merseyside followed by a 2-0 win at Upton Park, Slaven Bilić looks to have Liverpool’s number, whilst Jürgen Klopp is still looking to find a way to break down their East London counterparts – with his side unable to score from 180 minutes of football versus the Hammers this season. This fixture will always bring up a certain element of nostalgia when associated with the FA Cup, given the blockbuster served up in the 2006 cup final at the Millennium Stadium. Remembered as the ‘Gerrard Final’, Liverpool ran out winners on penalties after captain Steven Gerrard produced an inspired performance with two goals and an assist in the game, including a 35-yard thunderbolt in stoppage time. West Ham were generally known as a cup team earlier in their history, but having not won this competition since 1980, will be keen to end that drought this season after a 36-year wait.
Milton Keynes Dons v Chelsea
The final FA Cup clash of the weekend comes in Milton Keynes, with the MK Dons hosting Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea have found the FA Cup to their liking since the turn of the century, winning it five times since 2000. Guus Hiddink famously won this competition the last time he was interim manager at Stamford Bridge, defeating Everton 2-1 in the final, Frank Lampard scoring the winning goal back in 2009. Chelsea’s last success came back in 2012 when they conquered Liverpool at Wembley – Roberto di Matteo the man in charge for the Blues that day, again on an interim basis. MK Dons defeated Manchester United 4-0 at home in the League Cup last season, with Karl Robinson’s side capable of producing excellent performances on their day. Renowned in the Football League for their insistence of playing attractive football, Chelsea will have to be at their best defensively to shut out their opponents.
Check out more football betting tips for today with Sbat.