This weekend sees a break from league action for those sides that are still in the FA Cup and we take a look at the fourth round fixtures to see how each team will fair.
Ben Ashton takes a stab at the possible outcomes of the action this weekend.
Here’s this week’s FA Cup fourth round predictions:
Friday 23 January 2015
Cambridge United vs Manchester United (19:55)
Manchester United faced a possible upset in the third round away at Yeovil Town but they came through that test comfortably in the end and I expect them to do so once again against a modest Cambridge.
Saturday 24 January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)
Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City (12:45)
Both sides have stuttered recently in the Championship and Premier League respectively and are both without a win in four which is why it’s likely to end all square.
Prediction: 1-1 (Swansea City to win the replay 2-0)
Birmingham City vs West Bromwich Albion
Birmingham have picked things up recently after a torrid start to the season which saw them record just two wins from the opening 15 games. But any side managed by Tony Pulis will be tough to beat and the Baggies should edge this Midlands derby.
Cardiff City vs Reading
Neither of these sides can have much to brag about this season as they both sit in the bottom half of the Championship. A cup run could potentially light up an otherwise dull campaign for one of them. Narrow home win.
Chelsea vs Bradford City
If Chelsea fail to get past Bradford at home in the fourth round, it would go down as one of the FA Cup’s all-time greatest upsets. But it’s not going to happen and Chelsea will cruise into the fifth round.
Derby County vs Chesterfield
Derby’s priority this season will be gaining promotion to the Premier League and they’re doing a fairly good job of achieving that so far. Chesterfield themselves are in a battle for promotion too and this game presents the opportunity of a mini-upset but Derby should just have enough.
Manchester City vs Middlesbrough
City will be crushed after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the league but they need to bounce back quickly. And what better opportunity than against a Championship side whose priorities are trying to gain promotion.
Preston North End vs Sheffield United
Preston are going well in League One despite going four without a win. They should have a slight advantage in the sense that Sheffield United had to play a League Cup game against Tottenham in midweek so they may be suffering from that. The Blades’ cup form has been excellent in recent times though and that should be enough to bring the game back to Bramall Lane.
Prediction: 1-1 (Sheffield United to win the replay 1-0)
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
If this game was due to be played six weeks ago, you’d expect a comfortable Southampton win, but Palace look revitalised under new manager Alan Pardew which will make for a tight game. However, the Saints should just edge it and Palace will be subjected to their first defeat under the new boss.
Sunderland vs Fulham
This is a game that Sunderland could probably do without given the fact they need to concentrate on Premier League survival. Fulham look to be safe in the Championship and a cup run would be a welcome bonus. But the advantage of being at home and having Jermain Defoe at their disposal should see Sunderland through.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City
Tottenham have been playing well recently, despite a blip at Selhurst Park when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace. Leicester have also picked up a few points of late to give themselves a chance of escaping relegation, and that will be their number one objective this season. Spurs should go through without too many problems.
Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers (17:30)
Brendan Rodgers has quietly but effectively set about turning Liverpool’s season around. The Reds could do with a good send-off for skipper Steven Gerrard who will be joining LA Galaxy in the summer, so they will be desperate to do well in the FA Cup. Bolton have also turned it around under Neil Lennon but getting a result at Anfield will be too much to ask.
Sunday 25 January 2015
Bristol City vs West Ham United (14:00)
Sam Allardyce hasn’t always prioritised the FA Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this game. Bristol City are flying high in League One and will fancy themselves to get at the Hammers. This should be an entertaining game.
Prediction: 1-1 (West Ham United to win the replay 2-0)
Aston Villa vs Bournemouth
Villa Park will be the most likely destination for a cup upset this weekend. But in truth, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Bournemouth have been scintillating this season in the Championship, while Aston Villa have been very much the opposite in the Premier League. I fancy the Cherries to win this.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal
Defensive stability isn’t something we normally associate with Arsenal in recent years, but with three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions they’re starting to look solid at the back, which is the main reason I don’t see Brighton getting anything from this game. Arsenal’s attacking threat isn’t bad either.
Monday 26 January 2015 (20:00)
Rochdale vs Stoke City
This fixture has all the makings of a classic FA Cup tie. On paper, it looks as though Stoke will comfortably sweep Rochdale aside, but I get the feeling it won’t be as easy as that. The magic of the cup should be there for all to see in this one.
Prediction: 2-2 (Stoke City to win the replay 3-1)
Who will make the fifth round of the FA Cup?