By Niall Clarke
- FA Cup fifth round preview
- Chelsea vs Manchester City headlines the weekend action
- Arsenal vs Hull, Tottenham vs Crystal Palace and Shrewsbury vs Manchester United and more.
Premier League leaders Leicester City will rest up this weekend whilst their title rivals battle for their spots in the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup.
The weekend’s action will see Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hostpur in round five action with the Citizen’s trip to Stamford Bridge being the pick of the matches.
Chelsea vs Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini’s side will make the journey to London to meet Chelsea on Sunday in a clash of the underachieving cash cows of the Premier League. City will feel they should be closer to table toppers Leicester even though they are still in contention to win four trophies. Chelsea’s season has been well documented, but the FA Cup is their most realistic chance of success this season.
Guus Hiddink knows the feeling of climbing the Wembley stairs and lifting the FA Cup trophy after leading the Blues to victory in the 2009 final. The Dutchman will be looking to replicate that success seven years on, but will have to get through this tie without Captain John Terry who is still out with a hamstring injury.
“I will make hardly any changes because we take the FA Cup very seriously. Winning the FA Cup is a prestigious prize in England but also worldwide.” Said Hiddink in the pre match press conference
On the other hand, Pellegrini has stated he will rest several senior players with the Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev on their minds for Wednesday.
“We have just 13 (senior) players available to play. We have to play Champions League on Wednesday. We’ll see the best team we can play on Sunday. Young players have the option and they must take their chances.” Said the Chilean.
“For me the priority is always the next game but we must make an exception now because of so many injuries.
“We never think about four trophies – we go game by game.”
Arsenal vs Hull
Arsenal will put their Premier League title challenge on hold when they meet Hull City in the FA Cup for the third consecutive season.
The holders are looking for a three-peat this season, a run that started with a victory over Hull in the 2014 final. A Cup rematch saw Arsenal win 2-0 on home soil in last season’s third round as Arsene Wenger’s men went on to successfully defend the Cup.
Arsenal will also have the Champions League on their mind as they welcome Barcelona to the Emirates on Tuesday, therefore plenty of key players could be rested at the weekend. Wenger confirmed David Ospina will start ahead of Petr Cech in goal, while January signing Mohamed Elneny is in contention for his second start.
“We play them every year in the FA Cup!” Said Wenger pre match.
“We know them well and they are in a strong position in the Championship.
“We will play a strong side. A normal side.”
Hull manager Steve Bruce says Nick Powell, who is on loan from Manchester United, will make his debut, whilst on-loan duo Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden will be ineligible to play against their parent club.
Shrewsbury Town vs Manchester United
After suffering back to back defeats in the League and the Champions League, Manchester United will be hoping to avoid further embarrassment when they travel League One’s Shrewsbury Town.
With the FA Cup being Louis Van Gaal’s best chance of success with the Red Devils, it is a wonder if they will rest any key players for the tie. Wayne Rooney will not feature as the England International is out for two months with an injury.
The Shrews are currently just three points above the relegation zone in England’s third tier, but it is the FA Cup and anything can happen.
Can the League One outfit pile further misery on Van Gaal?
Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace
Premier League high flyers Tottenham Hotspur will host a struggling Crystal Palace side looking to use the FA Cup to rekindle their early season form.
Spurs will turn their attention away from their title challenge when they welcome Alan Pardew’s side to White Hart Lane on Sunday. Hugo Lloris and Tom Carroll are expected to miss the match with injuries so Michel Vorm will likely start in goal.
It was a little over a month a go since Spurs added to the recent poor form of Palace with a 3-1 victory. Yannick Bolasie could make his first appearance of 2016 after recovering from a hip injury, while Bakary Sako is fit again after a month out with a hamstring problem.
Dwight Gayle and Joe Ledley could also make their comebacks from hamstring and thigh injuries respectively.
12:45- Arsenal vs Hull
15:00- Reading vs West Brom
15:00- Watford vs Leeds
17:15: Bournemouth vs Everton
14:00- Blackburn vs West Ham
15:00- Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
16:00- Chelsea vs Manchester City
19:45- Shrewsbury Town vs Manchester United
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