Pearson Previews: The FA Cup

Following on from last night’s action against St Etienne in the Europa League, United must wait until Sunday tea time for their trip to Blackburn in the FA Cup. Once title rivals in the mid 90’s, the two teams trajectory has taken a different path in recent years. Man United have remained at the very top of the English, and European, game where as Rovers have failed to live up to their 1995 Championship. United are one of the Premier League’s in form teams with eight wins in 11 league games. They have beaten Championship opposition in both rounds so far and are yet to concede a goal. Blackburn on the other hand have only two wins in the last 10 games, both at home and they have not been above 20th in the league all season. Currently sitting second bottom in the second tier, the FA Cup has provided a good distraction for them of late, beating Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool in the competition so far.

With the remaining Premier League teams all avoiding each other in the draw, should Man United progress, they could be drawn against any of the following sides in the next round.

Burnley will be looking to extend their superb home record this season as non league Lincoln City visit Turf Moor. The Clarets will be favourites to progress to the next round after losing only three home league matches this season. Burnley have progressed twice at home in the competition, in the last round against Bristol City and in round 3 after a replay versus Sunderland. Lincoln, however, are in great form themselves, sitting top of the National League having lost only two in their last ten league games. Lincoln have knocked out teams from higher leagues in each round, most notably Championship sides Brighton and Ipswich in the last two.

Promotion chasing Huddersfield Town are at home to Manchester City in Saturday afternoon’s kick off. With the FA Cup proving the best route for City to win silverware in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge, Huddersfield will likely face a difficult task. Huddersfield are third in the Championship, currently one point behind automatic promotion. They have won eight of the last 10 games, six of them by a single goal. Manchester City have quietly been climbing the Premier League since an earlier rough patch. They have beaten Premier League opposition in both rounds so far, twice playing away, and are yet to concede a goal. Huddersfield too are yet to concede a goal, but have played only lower league opposition this season.

Middlesbrough, finding goals difficult to come by, will host Oxford United at the Riverside. Boro have scored just three goals in their last eight league games and were narrow 1-0 winners over Accrington Stanley in the last round. Oxford are mid table in League One but have been climbing the table of late courtesy of five wins in their last nine games. Oxford have knocked out Championship opponents in the last two rounds, most notably a 3-0 home victory over Newcastle United.

Premier League Champions Leicester City will travel to Millwall looking to play their way in to some sort of form. They have not scored a league goal in this calendar year, losing their last five and conceding 12 goals. Their cup form has been a little better and despite needing 210 minutes to beat Derby County in the last round, they did impress against Everton in round 3. Millwall on the other hand have not lost since Christmas and have climbed to 8th in league one following a 2-0 home win against Port Vale in mid week. The London side have beaten two Premier League sides already this season and this game looks the most likely upset from the weekend.
Wolverhampton Wanderers produced one of the upsets of the round last time out by beating Liverpool at Anfield. Their impressive display of counter attacking football may yield more results as they play host to Chelsea in the tea time kick off on Saturday. Wolves have won only one league game since that impressive win in the last round, losing their last two home games 1-0 and slipping to 18th in the Championship. Chelsea will likely prove too difficult a task as they currently sit clear at the top of the Premier League, unbeaten in five and keeping five clean sheets in their last 10 league games.

Sunday afternoon sees an all London affair at Craven Cottage as Fulham host Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham, in action away in Belgium on Thursday night, have lost only once in the last ten league games. In the previous round however they went behind twice at home to Wycombe Wanderers, needing a 97th minute winner to avoid a replay. Fulham have impressed of late moving up to 8th in the Championship table following four wins in their last six games. They knocked out Premier League opponents Hull City in the last round.

The last game of the weekend brings the biggest gap in league standing as National League Sutton United take on 12 times FA Cup winners Arsenal. Fresh from a humbling result in the Champions League, Arsenal will be desperate to avoid defeat to the lowest ranked team left in the competition. The FA Cup may well serve as the Gunners only chance to win something this season and they will be keen to progress to the next round. Suttons form of late has been poor but they have only lost one of the last five home games. Taking out the 6-0 loss at home to Dover, Sutton have conceded just twice in four games on their 3G pitch. Arsenal have lost two of their last three in the league but were impressive 5-0 winners away to Southampton in the last round.