There may be no Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round this season, but there are still eight ties to look forward to in the coming days.
The Reds were dispatched of by Wolves in round four, following a wretched performance at Anfield, leaving them with just the Premier League to focus on in 2016/17.
Fellow top-six rivals all remain in the tournament, and the longer they stay in it, the more it should improve the Reds’ top-four chances. The more games and distractions for them, the better.
There are eight ties this weekend, with 16 clubs vying for a place in the quarter-finals. It’s the first time two non-league sides have been in the fifth round since the 19th century.
S*n-sponsored Sutton to Get Smashed by Arsenal
Under normal circumstances, we would all love lowly Sutton United to pull off one of the great FA Cup shocks against Arsenal on Monday. This is different, though.
The non-league outfit have struck a one-off sponsorship deal with The S*n for their fifth round tie – something that hasn’t exactly endeared themselves to Liverpool fans or the rest of the footballing community.
For that reason, we should all be hoping Arsenal beat Sutton into submission, booking a place in the last-eight in the process.
Arsene Wenger could do with something to smile about, following Wednesday’s harrowing 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Maybe he can deliver another FA Cup success as his parting gift at the Emirates?
Can Klopp’s Mate Stun Guardiola?
Much was made about the friendship between Jurgen Klopp and David Wagner when the latter was appointed Huddersfield Town manager last summer.
The German is working wonders with the Championship club, incorporating fresh, modern ideas and guiding the Terriers to within four points of the automatic promotion places.
On Saturday, Wagner’s men welcome Man City to the John Smith’s Stadium, in what looks like one of the most attractive ties of the round.
A lot will depend on how many key players are rested on either side, but if Wagner respects the competition, they could easily spring a surprise.
A good test for Liverpool loanee Danny Ward in goal for the Yorkshire side too.
Another Defeat For The Champions?
Leicester City’s post-title-winning season has gone from average to bad to disastrous, and relegation is now a genuine possibility.
They are still in three competitions, however, and prior to their Champions League clash with Sevilla next week, they visit Millwall.
This feels like a nasty fixture for the Foxes, and with big names sure to be saved for Sevilla, picking up a win will not be easy.
Millwall have already knocked out Premier League duo Bournemouth and Watford, and you wouldn’t bet against them doing the same to Leicester.
In truth, the FA Cup will be bottom of Claudio Ranieri’s priorities and he’ll rotate heavily – another defeat would further crank up the pressure on the likeable Italian.
Note that a draw here, forcing a replay, would mean Liverpool’s Premier League match at Leicester would be postponed – meaning three weeks without a Reds’ match!
1990s Rivalry Rekindled At Ewood Park
Man United and Blackburn Rovers were big rivals in the 1990s, but while United ended up dominating the English game, Blackburn faded into obscurity.
Rovers have seesawed between the Premier League and Championship over the last 20 years, but there has been very little to shout about of late under their controversial owners, Venkys.
On Sunday, the two teams do battle at Ewood Park, as the hosts look to see off a side improving all the time under Jose Mourinho.
It is difficult to see anything other than a United victory, considering Blackburn are currently flirting with relegation, but we can all dream of a cup shock.
At least United staying in gives them more games to contend with in the latter end of the season.
London Derby Between Fulham & Spurs
These are the kind of games that have the potential to be very interesting, as long as both teams don’t treat the FA Cup as a chore.
Both Fulham and Tottenham are enjoying strong seasons in their respective leagues, and the added spice of it being a London derby makes it an inviting game on paper.
Spurs’ Europa League commitments on Thursday mean that a second-string lineup is likely, and it is times like these where their squad depth is tested.
The north Londoners have won just one trophy this century, but this current crop are good enough to end that drought. A piece of silverware would be huge for them, in terms of creating a winning mentality.
Fulham won’t make life easy for the visitors, but at best, you would expect them to take Spurs to a replay at White Hart Lane.
Fixtures, UK TV Info & Predictions
Burnley vs. Lincoln – 12:30pm, BT Sport 2
Huddersfield vs. Man City – 3pm
Middlesbrough vs. Oxford – 3pm
Millwall vs. Leicester – 3pm
Wolves vs. Chelsea – 5:30pm, BT Sport 2
Fulham vs. Tottenham – 2pm, BBC One
Blackburn vs. Man United – 4:15pm, BT Sport 2
Sutton vs. Arsenal – 19:55, BBC One
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