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A somewhat comprehensive FA Cup fourth round preview

Chelsea members celebrate after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge(IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
25th January, 2018
1

After all the excitement of the FA Cup third round and all of its magic, the next round is sometimes overlooked even though there are decent contests, potential upsets and a great round of football, all of which I will attempt here to promote here.

The wheat separated from chaff somewhat in the previous round, with a bunch of Football League teams and a Stoke side (whose loss to fourth-tier Coventry City cost manager Mark Hughes his job) gone, and now just 32 teams remain in the running for a chance at Wembley glory.

All of the big teams are still in the hunt, but is there a potential upset out there this weekend?

Possibly, and this preview might just have the answers. Or maybe no one really cares about the FA Cup yet, or at all.

Given there are only 16 games, and no EPL, why not include all 16 games in this FA Cup fourth Round Preview, including the favourite upset chances?

So here is a primer and our attempt at picking all 16 FA Cup fourth Round games correctly.

Yeovil Town v Manchester United
Tv game – Saturday 6:45am Kickoff AEDT

With a squad value of 1.69M GBP (according to the excellent www.transfermarkt.co.uk) Yeovil Town’s value could be covered by just four weeks of Alexis Sanchez’s reported weekly wage of 490K. So the David v Goliath will be trundled out by many, but the arrival of the biggest club in world football is good news for the Glovers of Yeovil off the field, if not on it.

It is a mismatch of paper of the highest order as while Manchester United is sitting second in the EPL, Yeovil Town are fourth last in the fourth tier, with relegation just two points away. But Friday night is the night for upsets in the FA Cup.

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Speaking of Alexis Sanchez, he will possibly play his first game for the Red Devils this weekend, and for one of the highest paid footballers in the world, it should be a humbling lesson in the wide world of football to play at Huish Park on the weekend.

Prediction: Manchester United to probably win 3-0 or 4-0, but not after a scoreless first half.

Sheffield Wednesday v Reading
Saturday 6:45am Kickoff AEDT

While the other Friday night game is pure FA Cup, this clash between two struggling Championship sides is much less so. Both sides have featured in playoffs for the EPL in recent years, and both are currently side by side in 17th and 18th.

Reading are last in Championship last six form, Sheffield Wednesday 18th, with just the one win between them. Perhaps a Cup run will re-launch their season. One of five clashes that don’t feature an EPL side.

Prediction: Reading made the last eight in 2016, so that’s good enough reason for the tip.

Peterborough United v Leicester City
Tv game – Saturday 11:30pm AEDT

Leicester City, who have found form again in the EPL and haven’t lost in 2018 yet, take on another third tier team away from home. They needed a replay to get past Fleetwood last round, who sit five places lower in League One than Peterborough, who are just four points from the top six. Peterborough won the last clash between these sides in the second tier in 2013, long before Leicester surprised the sporting world, although that Leicester side still had the names of Jamie Vardy, Wes Morgan and Kasper Schmeichel in it.

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Jamie Vardy Leicester City

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Prediction: Surely Leicester wins this one without the replay.

Notts County v Swansea City
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Some may be tempted to tip an upset here, given Swansea’s lowly position in the EPL and Notts County’s lofty second position in the fourth tier League Two and only one loss at home this season. Looking at current form though, Notts County drops to 17th, hardly inspiring stuff heading into this clash with the EPL side. Swansea’s win against Liverpool on Monday night, plus a new-ish manager may just give them the spark for the rest of this season. Enough to get past Notts County anyway.

Prediction: Swansea to win by a couple of goals.

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United
TV GAME – Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Another potential upset, but this one actually looks like a real chance. In a rare correct prediction from round three, Wigan drew with Bournemouth and then won the replay to book a match against EPL side West Ham, and the League One leaders will fancy their chances.

Like Bournemouth, West Ham needed a replay to get past third division opposition in Shrewsbury last round, and unlike Bournemouth, they won the replay. It will all depend on the side West Ham put out of course, and they do have some injury worries.

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Prediction: Wigan to win.

Millwall v Rochdale
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Millwall occasionally go on a Cup run, making an FA Cup Final in 2004, Semi Final in 2013, and Quarter Final last season, and come into the FA Cup fourth round after a good 4-1 win over Barnsley from the same division.

Rochdale, from the third-tier League One, also beat opposition from their own division in Doncaster last round. Millwall’s last six form at home is sixth in the Championship, while Rochdale haven’t won any of their last six on the road.

Prediction: Millwall to win.

Southampton v Watford
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Watford are the latest EPL side to sack their manager and Southampton are looking the next most likely to give the boss the boot. This game all depends on how seriously either side takes it. Watford has the upper hand in clashes this season with a win and a draw from two meetings.

N'Golo Kante for Leicester

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

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Prediction: Watford due to new Manager bounce, or a scoreless draw.

Hull City v Nottingham Forest
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

An interesting fact between these two sides, five of the last six meetings have been won by the away side, with the other being a draw. Nottingham Forest has a new manager, and they beat runaway Championship leaders Wolves in the league last weekend.

Hull lost to Sunderland, who are lower than their own 21st position. Third round FA Cup form goes the way of Forest too, with Nottingham Forest knocking out Arsenal and Hull getting past ex-Championship and EPL side Blackburn.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest to win. That away stat is too good to pass up.

Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Two teams with relegation on their minds. Huddersfield from the top flight, and Birmingham trying to avoid the third division. Birmingham looks in real trouble, 23rd and on the same points as last, but a good cup run might lead to better results in the league.

Huddersfield are just two points from safety, and you couldn’t blame either side for not caring too much about this matchup.

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Prediction: Draw, 0-0 too.

Sheffield United v Preston North End
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

Two Championship sides hunting promotion, and one wonders how seriously either side will take this match. Sheffield United have some recent pedigree for a good Cup run, making the semi-finals in 2014 when they were still in the third tier. Seven of the last 12 games between these sides have ended up in a draw, and last time they met in the FA Cup in 2015 it was a draw.

Prediction: Draw.

Milton Keynes v Coventry City
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

A clash of two of the lower placed teams left in the FA Cup fourth round. Milton Keynes are sliding down the third-tier League One with one win in their last 11 games and now sit in the relegation zone. A division and a few places further away are 1987 FA Cup winners Coventry City who sit sixth and find themselves in the fourth tier as yet another victim of owners treating a UK football poorly.

Coventry knocked off Stoke City in the last round, killing off Mark Hughes’ managerial stint at the EPL club, so a Milton Keynes side just a few places above in the football pyramid should prove easier. At least it means either a third or fourth tier team are guaranteed passage to the fifth round.

Prediction: Coventry City to win.

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Middlesbrough v Brighton
Sunday 2:00am AEDT

With a stack of games coming up including midweek, Brighton could be forgiven for having their focus elsewhere as they sit just one point above the EPL relegation zone. A trip all the way to Middlesbrough from the south coast won’t sound too appealing.

Glenn Murray’s arrest for tax problems is a distraction they could also do without. Middlesbrough, who now have Tony Pulis in charge, are on the cusp of the top six of the Championship, but worryingly have lost their last two at home. The away side has won four of the last six meetings between the sides, with two draws.

Prediction: Middlesbrough to win, against most logic.

Newport County v Spurs
Tv game – Sunday 4:30am AEDT

The other big mismatch in terms of league positions, Newport County are eighth in League Two and Spurs are chasing a top 4 spot in the EPL. Thankfully the match is at the League Two side’s home as it tends to level out the difference in talent a little.

Harry Kane Tottenham English Premier League EPL Football 2017

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rodney Parade is no Wembley. Newport County are in decent form in League Two and knocked off Leeds United last round to set up the Spurs clash. This will be the first meeting between the sides.

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Prediction: Spurs to win by a goal.

Liverpool v West Brom
Tv game – Sunday 6:45am AEDT

One of three EPL ties in the FA Cup fourth round, and predictably two of them are televised. Liverpool comes into the game smarting after another unexpected EPL loss at a lowly side in Swansea, and one wonders what kind of side they will put out. West Brom broke a long winless streak recently but still sit second to last in the EPL. Interestingly, four of the last six games between these sides have been draws, and the last thing these sides would want is a replay.

Prediction: Liverpool to win – they have made the semi-finals in 2012 and 2015, so for 2018…

Chelsea v Newcastle
Tv game – Monday 0:30am AEDT

Another all EPL matchup, and it should be easy pickings for Chelsea, whose likely much-changed side are still miles ahead of Newcastle’s squad. Chelsea has the upper hand in recent fixtures too, the latest being a 5-1 mauling when an in-form Hazard tore them apart, much like he did against Brighton last weekend.

Chelsea may take this reasonably seriously after the fresh memory of being knocked out of a League Cup final appearance by Arsenal during the week. Newcastle meanwhile never seem to do much in the cups, their last semi-final appearance in the FA Cup was back in 2005.

Prediction: Chelsea by plenty.

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Cardiff City v Manchester City
Tv game – Monday 3:00am AEDT

Cardiff City currently sits third in the Championship, and have been around the top all season, although slightly off the pace of the dominant Wolves. A streak of four losses in a row was turned around recently, but they did need a replay to get past fourth-tier Mansfield Town in round three.

Manchester City meanwhile seems to be troubled by top six Championship clubs as much as EPL Sides. Wolves and Bristol City have both pushed Manchester City in the League Cup this season, and Cardiff are of similar quality. They’ve also been recently knocked out of the FA Cup by Middlesbrough from the second tier at the time. In saying of all that, Manchester City will probably still this easily.

Prediction: Manchester City 2-1.