By Sanal Mulackal
It’s the fourth round of the FA Cup! Expect some big upsets, non-stop football and questionable decisions, all sprinkled with the magic of the cup!
All Eyes On….
Manchester United v Liverpool. Sunday 24th January, 5pm K.O.
A week after an Anfield snooze fest, where both teams rarely showcased their true attacking potential and settled for a disappointing draw, the old foes meet again. Nonetheless, this mouth-watering fixture generates unparalleled hype for footballing fans worldwide, not least because at the end of ninety minutes, one team will be marching into the fifth round whilst the other will have to lick their wounds and reflect on missed opportunities.
For Ole, this is an opportunity to progress towards that all elusive first trophy that he’s been craving for and the temptation will be there to start all his big guns. Why change something that works? With Paul Pogba strutting around the pitch like he owns it and Bruno Fernandes continuing to be in inspired form, it might prove to be a mistake to dislodge their rhythm. Or will this be the weekend Manchester United fans finally see their £40 million Dutch superstar Donny VDB, assert his place in the starting XI, not to mention the opportunity to introduce the exciting Amad Diallo?
For Jürgen, a manager who expects no less than 100% from his men at all times, but is hampered by injuries to key players, this will be a test of his man management and squad rotation abilities. No other team has knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup more than Manchester United (9 times, including finals), so history certainly favours one side more than the other. Despite this, Liverpool have recently displayed a resilience and solidarity to grind out results, albeit their front three are yet to fire on all cylinders. Therefore, this could present the perfect opportunity for Shaqiri and Minamino to flex their attacking prowess and present their case on why they should play more regularly.
Form and squad depth is certainly on Manchester United’s side, albeit Liverpool possess that winning mentality to produce results even when the odds are against their favour. However this match plays out, we just hope it will produce the exhilarating end to end football that we know both of these teams are capable off!
Our prediction: Manchester United 2 – 1 Liverpool
Brentford v Leicester City. Sunday 24th January, 2:30pm K.O.
Brendan Rodgers men are flirting with top spot of the Premier League at the moment and certainly have momentum on their side, but this weekend, they are up against The Bee’s who could very well halt them in their pursuit of the FA Cup.
Currently occupying third position in the Championship and having only lost 3 matches, (the least in the Championship) Brentford are by no means, an easy nut to crack. On the opposite end of the pitch, Brentford striker Ivan Torney certainly knows where the goal is, as he sits atop the Championship’s Top Scorers with an impressive 16 goals and 5 assists too.
Did you know? Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho averages a goal every 88 minutes in his FA Cup career!
Our prediction: Brentford 2 – 1 Leicester
West Ham v Doncaster Rovers. Saturday 23rd January, 3pm K.O.
41 league positions separate these two teams, but we have a feeling that this might throw up a few surprises. With ex-player Darren Moore at the helm, Doncaster have produced dominant attacking performances this season, combining a blend of experience and youth. However, the energetic AJ Greaves, who recently made his debut for Doncaster, is set to miss out as he is cup tied to his previous club, Gainsborough Trinity.
Whilst West Ham are aiming to break into the top six after a string of impressive victories, will they be able to maintain their focus and not face a hiccup in the form of Doncaster Rovers?
Our Prediction: West Ham 0 – 1 Doncaster Rovers.
Put Your Money On…
Cheltenham Town v Manchester City. Saturday 23rd January, 5:30pm K.O.
Come on, it’s Manchester City and they’re up against league two opposition. Are we really expecting any surprises here?
Our Prediction: Cheltenham Town 0 – 3 Manchester City
Chelsea v Luton Town. Sunday 24th January, 12pm K.O.
Okay, Chelsea haven’t been impressive as of late. And they only narrowly beat Fulham, owing to a delicious strike from Gareth Southgate’s golden boy Mason Mount. But, surely they have simply got too much experience and skill within their locker room to dispatch a Luton side that’s languishing in mid-table of the Championship?
Did you know? Chelsea have progressed from 51 out of their last 53 FA Cup ties against sides from the lower division.
Our prediction: Chelsea 3 – 1 Luton Town.