By Ryan Moran
- Everton are the visitors at Brunton Park.
- Derby County welcome Manchester United in the opening game of the fourth round.
- Giant killers Oxford face Paul Lambert’s Blackburn at the Kassam Stadium.
Carlisle, UK – Back on home soil, Carlisle go in search of a famous victory in the FA Cup against Everton. Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United travel to the iPro Stadium to face a high flying Derby side to kick off the fourth round.
Carlisle United vs Everton
Keith Curle’s side have endured a tough time of late off the field, having been forced to play home games at various grounds because of the flooding. Blackburn’s Ewood Park, Preston’s Deepdale Stadium and Blackpool’s Bloomfield road hosted home games while Brunton Park recoevered from the effects of Storm Desmond.
Roberto Martinez’s Everton side were robbed of a cup final at the Etihad Stadium in mid-week, the ball going out of play before Kevin De Bruyne found the net. The FA Cup provides a chance to reach a cup final, a competition Martinez won with Wigan in 2013.
Both sides have struggled on the field in recent times, the Toffees only win in their last five coming in the third round against Dagenham and Redbridge while the Cumbrians have drawn four and lost once. The home side made the fourth round courtesy of a 5-4 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their third round replay with Yeovil.
Can Carlisle produce the same shock Oxford produced in the third round with victory over Everton?
The Premier League sides going toe to toe with the Championship
Arsenal remain in the hunt to lift the trophy for a third successive year with Burnley standing between them and a place in the round of 16. With both sides in the upper echelons of their respective leagues, will a cup run hinder their chances of league success?
The Clarets overcame Aitor Karanka’s second placed Middlesbrough in the third round, coming from behind to win 2-1, while Arsenal produced a top draw display of passing to beat Sunderland. Sean Dyche’s side have won their last four successive games while Arsene Wenger’s Gunners have slipped up with one win and a loss separated by two draws.
Ex-Real Madrid assistant manager Paul Clement and Derby County host Manchester United to kick off the fourth round action. With claims Van Gaal handed in his resignation earlier this week, the pressure is really mounting on the Dutchman, a defeat to lower league opposition could bring an end to his tenure at Old Trafford.
Ex-Manchester United player Paul Ince will be hoping for a draw with son Tom Ince playing for the Rams, who are in search of promotion to the Premier League. A late Wayne Rooney penalty secured the Red Devils a place in the fourth round, Darren Bent grabbed the winner in a 2-1 victory over Hartlepool for Derby in the third round.
Nottingham Forest hope to continue their purple patch at home to Watford, having gone 13 games unbeaten in all competitions. The City Ground plays host to the tie with both sides in strong league positions, a cup run being the only likely source of silverware given their league positions. Quique Sanchez Flores’ Hornets have dipped in form; the magic of the cup could ignite a push for the Europa League in their first season back in the Premier League
A few weeks ago MK Dons would have fancied their chances against a struggling Chelsea side, now under the management of Guus Hiddink the Blues are a different animal. The Dutchman is yet to experience defeat in his second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge and has an affection for the cup having won it previously.
Karl Robinson’s Dons have found life tough in the Championship with the cup offering a break from the struggles of league action. Robinson fields young sides, a side once with Dele Alli in their ranks but can their promise match Chelsea’s proven quality?
League One and Two sides hope for cup upset of Premier proportion
Lowly Colchester United knocked out Charlton Athletic of the Championship in the previous round but can they defeat Tottenham Hotspur, who are fourth in the Premier League?
The U’s have talent in their ranks, youngster Alex Gilbey attracting attention from higher league clubs, but fail to see out games in League One. Having watched the Essex outfit play Gillingham, they play with pace in the wings but there is no threat in the box, Marvin Sordell providing very little having once graced the top flight with Burnley.
Spurs needed a replay to see off Leicester City but did so in style with Son Heung-min’s goal a highlight in that game. The White Hart Lane outfit have a poor record at this stage, losing at this stage in the last three years.
A south coast derby pits two sides once at opposite ends of the pyramid to where they are now. Portsmouth made the final in 2010 and now find themselves in League Two, while Bournemouth climbed the pyramid and now find themselves where Pompey can now only dream of.
Paul Cook is starting the revival as Portsmouth challenge for promotion while Eddie Howe is trying to stabilise the Cherries in the top flight. Signings such as Benik Afobe have boosted the ranks with key injuries in the first half of the season. Even though the sides are three leagues apart, the magic of the cup might triumph at Fratton Park.
Peterborough United face a difficult test at the Hawthorns with West Brom unbeaten in their last 11 FA Cup home games against lower league opposition. Saido Berahino has scored six goals and assisted four in his last five appearances in the competition, his inclusion could be the Baggies’ pass into the round of 16.
The top flight sides locking horns in the cup
Aston Villa welcome Manchester City to Villa Park as league form goes out of the window with no next game for the losing side. The loss of Kevin De Bruyne for six to ten weeks is a real blow for City and may also change Manuel Pellegrini’s approach for Saturday’s encounter with the Villans.
West Ham United beat Liverpool at Anfield when Brendan Rodgers was in charge, and will hope for three wins out of three against the Reds this season. Slaven Bilic has also beaten Jurgen Klopp at the Boleyn Ground. Bilic will be hoping to turn their impressive league form into a successful cup run, starting at Anfield.
Blackburn Rovers hoping to avoid the same fate as Swansea
Kemar Roofe’s brace sent Swansea packing in the FA Cup, Oxford United will be hoping to condemn Blackburn Rovers to the same fate at the Kassam Stadium. Under the management of Paul Lambert and without a league win in six games an upset is possible.
Michael Appleton once managed Rovers adding an extra incentive for victory in the competition. A 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers is the U’s only blemish in their last five games while Blackburn’s win at Newport County. is their only win in their last five.
Of the weekend’s other fixtures:
Bolton Wanderers vs Leeds United
Bury vs Hull City
Reading vs Walsall
Shrewsbury vs Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County welcome Manchester United on Friday 29th January with a loss leaving Van Gaal under real pressure.
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