FA Cup fifth round weekend means a rare weekend with no Liverpool match, we preview the weekend’s fixtures and potential upsets.
For the first time all season, Liverpool actually have a weekend off when others around them are playing.
The Reds’ fourth round exit to West Ham has actually given the players some much-needed time off, although we would be lying if we said we didn’t wish they were still in the competition.
Barring Liverpool, all the top teams in the country remain in the FA Cup, which is sure to make for some thrilling games as it progresses.
Over the next days three days, there are eight intriguing ties to keep an eye out for.
Stamford Bridge the place to be
Without doubt, the standout match of the weekend is Man City‘s trip to Chelsea.
The Blues lost 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, but are having something of a resurgence under Guus Hiddink, while City’s Premier League defeat at home to Spurs last weekend further dented their title chances.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are an odd bunch. They have such a rich array of talent, but a lack of team spirit and ageing legs are there for all to see.
It is a tough one to predict, but Chelsea may just edge it, as City’s season threatens to peter out.
Current holders Arsenal will no doubt still be buzzing after last Saturday’s dramatic win at home to Leicester City, and they welcome Hull City to the Emirates in round five.
It is a repeat of the 2014 FA Cup final, which the Gunners won 3-2, and it seems very difficult to see anything other than a home victory.
Everton‘s trip to Bournemouth on Saturday evening has the potential to be an entertaining contest, with both sides unpredictable this season.
Roberto Martinez’s men can either be brilliant of woeful, and which one of those Toffees sides turns up at Dean Court will determine who makes it through the quarter-finals.
Man United may be having an indifferent campaign by their standards, but they will be eyeing up a first FA Cup triumph since 2004.
They visit League One outfit Shrewsbury Town on Monday night, and anything other than a comfortable win would come as a shock.
Tottenham host Crystal Palace on Sunday, in one of three all-Premier League clashes over the weekend, with Spurs riding on the crest of a wave currently.
The remaining three games see Reading, Watford and Blackburn Rovers at home to West Brom, Leeds United and West Brom.
Full Fixtures & TV Info
Arsenal vs. Hull – Saturday 12:45, BT Sport 2
Reading vs. West Brom – Saturday 3pm
Watford vs. Leeds – Saturday 3pm
Bournemouth vs. Everton – Saturday 5:15pm, BBC One
Blackburn vs. West Ham – Sunday 2pm, BT Sport 2
Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace – Sunday 3pm
Chelsea vs. Man City – Sunday 4pm, BBC One
Shrewsbury vs. Man United – Monday 7:45pm, BT Sport 2
Arsenal are arguably the best flat-track bullies in the country, with their record against lesser teams incredibly strong in recent years.
Regardless of whether or not they rest players ahead of their Champions League clash with Barcelona, they will beat Hull by at least two goals.
West Brom have ridden their luck in the FA Cup so far this season, with a late goal against Bristol City keeping them in the competition, and penalties required to get past Peterborough United in the last round.
They face a trickier test away to Championship side Reading on Saturday, but once again Tony Pulis’ men will dig deep and prevail in typically gritty style. They will keep a clean-sheet.
Chelsea‘s much-anticipated clash with City is sure to be full of drama, and in big games such as these, a refereeing error can make all the difference.
The level of officiating in England is at a real low point at the moment, and Sunday’s man in charge, Andre Marriner, may well make a mistake that decides the game.
Although United will ultimately progress past Shrewsbury with relative ease, there will be a moment that makes the entire footballing community come together and sense a shock on the cards.
It could be the League One team taking the lead, winning a penalty, United having someone sent-off or something else, but whatever happens, Louis van Gaal’s side will have a brief scare.
With the Premier League now very much Spurs’ most important avenue this season, it will be interesting to see how strong they line-up against Palace at White Hart Lane.
Alan Pardew’s side can be a very dangerous away side, even though their form has plummeted somewhat in 2016, and they may well spring a surprise in north London on Sunday. A draw at worst for Palace.