Friday, 27 January 2012

FA Cup Fourth Round: Ones to watch

We see the fourth round of the FA Cup take place this weekend and after some top quality ties in the last round we are sure to see more the cup throw up more shocks and controversy this weekend. Below are the stnad out fixtures to look out for, for the fourth round.

#1 Liverpool v Manchester Utd
Two giants in English football come head to head in the FA Cup once again. Man Utd came out 1-0 winners when the sides met last season in the third round at Old Trafford. An early penalty from Ryan Giggs ensured progress for the Red Devils in what was Kenny Dalglish's first game back as Liverpool manager. The last time these two met at Anfield in the cup was in 2006  in the fifth round when a Peter Crouch header was enough to take them through and eventually win the competition. Liverpool will take great confidence into the game after a hard fought draw against Manchester City in the week which took them through to the Carling Cup final. Craig Bellamy has been in fantastic form for the club and will want to continue that against an injury stricken United side. Man Utd have had terrible luck this season with injuries as seen against Arsenal when several players picked up knocks. But after beating rivals Manchester City in the last round, they won't fear anyone and will be determined to progress to the fifth round.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd
#2 QPR v Chelsea
Another all Premier League tie in the fourth round of the cup. These teams meet for the first time since the allegation made against Chelsea captain John Terry for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Terry will be sure to receive abuse from the Rangers fans but this won't affect the England captain as he will want to guide his team to glory in this seasons competition. Striker Fernando Torres has gone more than 15 hours of football now without finding the net. With only 3 competitive goals for the club, the Spanish striker will want to start scoring especially with the Euro Championships only months away and his place in the national side at stake. Rangers have started to look like the side we thought they were. Mark Hughes has given the London side a big lift, with two wins in his opening three games, the Welshman will want his side to continue his good start with victory over their London rivals. 
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Chelsea
#3 Leicester City v Swindon Town
Swindon Town are the lowest ranked team left in the competition, and with a third round victory over Premier League side Wigan, they won't want their run to end just yet. They come up against a strong Leicester side who have only lost one game in their last seven in all competitions. Nigel Pearson's side disposed of neighbours Nottingham Forest in the last round and after beating Southampton away from home on Monday, the Foxes will be full of confidence towards this tie. Paolo Di Canio's Swindon side currently sit fourth in League 2 and are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions. After beating Wigan in the last round, the Robins won't fear their opponents and will go into the game knowing they can progress further.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Swindon
#4 Brighton v Newcastle Utd
It's the Seagulls against the Magpies in this fourth round tie and the latter will definitely find their opponents tough to beat. Brighton needed a replay and a penalty shoot out in the last round to beat conference side Wrexham. The Premier League side have had quite a season and progress in this competition will be definitely in the mind of manager Alan Pardew. His side are still without striker Demba Ba but the form of midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has been pleasing to the eye of the Geordie fans. Brighton have had another good season with Gus Puyet's side currently sitting tenth in the Championship and are on a five game unbeaten run. Striker Craig Mackail Smith last goal came at the end of November so the former Posh man will want to return back to finding the net. A game Newcastle will find tough but with the experience of their team and Premiership quality, the fifth round beckons for them.
Prediction: Brighton 0-2  Newcastle Utd

#5 Sheffield Utd v Birmingham City
Definitely one of the ties to keep a look out for. Sheffield United may be a division below the Blues, but the League 1 side will have a lot of belief they can win the game and progress to the fifth round. City beat rivals Wolves in the last round and are on an eight game unbeaten run, scoring 12 goals in their last four games. Striker Marlon King has been regularly finding the net for the Midlands side and will be looking to continue his goalscoring this weekend.  United have been hot on the heels of League 1 leaders Charlton all season and currently sit in third place. Veteran striker James Beattie has recently signed a new deal with the club and with the his experience and leading of the line will be critical for his side. Scoring has not been a problem for Danny Wilson's team this season with the away defeat to Charlton at the weekend was the first time not scoring since the beginning of October. A tough game for the Championship side especially as their record away from home this season has been poor, something Sheffield United will pick up on. 
Prediction: Sheffield Utd 2-2 Birmingham City

Other fourth round ties:

Arsenal v Aston Villa (Predcition: 2-0)
Bolton v Swansea (Prediction: 1-2)
Derby County v Stoke (Prediction: 1-1)
Watford v Tottenham (Prediction: 0-3)
Hull City v Crawley Town (Prediction: 2-1) 
Sunderland v Middlesbrough (Prediction: 2-1)
Blackpool v Sheffield Wednesday (Prediction: 2-1)
Millwall v Southampton (Prediction: 1-3)
West Brom v Norwich (Prediction: 1-2)
Stevenage v Notts County (Prediction: 1-1)
Everton v Fulham (Prediction: 1-1)

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