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FA Cup – Fourth Round Preview

After an enthralling third round, the FA Cup returns this weekend with many great games taking place. Third round giant-killers, Chorley FC and Crawley Town will be eager to continue their excellent cup runs this season. Sixth Tier Chorley take on Premier League Wolves, while Crawley face Bournemouth, who are two leagues above them.

There are also three all-Premier League ties going ahead. The biggest of which sees a repeat of last week’s top of the table clash between Man United and Liverpool. Elsewhere, Southampton takes on an in-form Arsenal, while Fulham host Burnley.

With so many clashes involving teams across the country this weekend, the fourth round is setup to provide plenty of cracking entertainment! Check out some of the selected fixtures below.

In the first FA Cup action this weekend, the two teams with the biggest gap between them in the English leagues face off. Wolves are 110 places better off than sixth-tier Chorley in the football pyramid. However, the non-league side will be on a high after defeating Championship side Derby 2-0 in the previous round. Wolves form will also present an opportunity for Chorley. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has only won once in their last seven matches – a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in the third round of the FA Cup.

Southampton host Arsenal on Saturday afternoon in one of the few all Premier League fixtures. The Saints are in poor form recently, scoring just four goals in seven games and winning two of their last seven. The south coast side also has seven first-team players out injured. Jannik Vestergaard, Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo and Michael Obafemi are all among those who are unavailable. In contrast, Arsenal, are enjoying their best form of the season. Mikel Arteta’s side is unbeaten in their last six and have drawn only one match in this time. Last year’s FA Cup winners have reclaimed their solid defence too in recent weeks, keeping five clean sheets in a row.

Championship promotion hopefuls Brentford host Leicester on Sunday, in what could be the standout fixture of the weekend. Both teams enter this match in exception form. Brentford has only lost one game in their last 18 matches in all competitions and has won six of their last eight. Meanwhile, Leicester has won four games in a row and lost just one game in their last 11 in all competitions. It will be an intriguing match up with two teams who like to get forward and attack. Extra time and penalties may need to separate these two sides!

In one of the biggest matches of the fourth round, Man United host rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford. The two sides met last weekend at played out an unentertaining 0-0 draw at Anfield. This weekend, however, there will be a winner and United enter the match in better form. The Red Devils beat Fulham 2-1 in mid week to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 13. But Liverpool, on the other hand, continue to struggled. Jurgen Klopp’s side have only won once in their last five matches and they have failed to score in their last three. Also, away from home, Liverpool have won just two games in their last eight.

Players to Watch

  1. Carlos Vinicius

Carlos Vinicius is one of the lesser known strikers at Tottenham. The Brazilian centre forward has rarely featured in the Premier League this season, playing just 25 minutes of league football in the 2020/21 campaign. However, viewers of Spurs’ Europa League matches will have seen the qualities Vinicius has to offer. During the competition, the 25-year old has played five games, scored three and setup three. He was also on target in Spurs’ 4-0 against Marine in the FA Cup third round, scoring a hat-trick. It’s likely Vinicius will feature again this weekend for Spurs and he is definitely a player to provide goals and entertainment in the fourth round.

2. Michail Antonio

West Ham’s talisman, Michail Antonio has enjoyed an excellent return to form in recent weeks. The striker was sidelined for most of November and December with an injury, but, over the past three weeks, he has shown his importance for the Hammers. Antonio made his full comeback for West Ham in their 1-0 win ovr Stockport in the third round of the FA Cup. He looked impressive in that game, providing physicality and clever link up play throughout. But, in his last two Premier League games, Antonio has scored two goals. The English striker took an excellent position to score the winner against Burnley last week. He was then influential again in West Ham’s 2-1 win over West Brom, finding the net with a superb volley.

3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal’s captain was facing scrutiny in recent weeks for his lack of impact in the Gunner’s front line. But, the Gabon international has responded to his critics in excellent fashion recently, particularly in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Newcastle this week. Aubameyang missed an open goal in the early stages of the match. But, ever the professional, he scored two excellent goals to bounce back. The first, a superb driving run and powerful finish, the second an easy poacher’s finish to wrap up the game for his side. With three goals in his last three games, expect more to come from Aubameyang against Southampton this weekend.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

As the FA Cup progresses, typically, lower league teams are eliminated from the competition as they encounter higher-league opposition. Therefore, this week’s predictions show some big wins on the cards for Premier League teams. But, the beauty of the FA Cup comes from the possibility of an upset from one of the outsiders!

Will non-league Chorley provide another shock result? How will holders Arsenal fare against Southampton? Will United or Liverpool get to earn the bragging rights in this rival clash? As always, let us know your predictions in the comments below!