This week of football features the fifth round of the FA Cup, with the remaining 16 teams battling for a place in the quarter final of the 150 year old competition. There are 12 Premier League sides and four Championship teams left in the draw, with some interesting contests on the horizon.
With the fixtures coming quick and fast this season, it does feel like a real opportunity for an underdog to not only pick up some silverware, but also secure a slot in next season’s Europa League.
Tuesday 9th February
Burnley vs Bournemouth (5:30pm)
The first clash of the round features Burnley facing Championship opposition in Bournemouth. This has been a fixture that we have been used to seeing in the Premier League over recent years, but following the Cherries relegation, this is the only time these sides will face off this season.
It has been a tricky campaign so far for the Clarets, supporting their current league position of 17th. However, there have been some sparks of joy for Sean Dyche’s side, with the highlight being ending Liverpool’s 68 game unbeaten run at Anfield.
Bournemouth have also had a similar season of sorts, with promotion back to the top division the expectation for the club from the South West. They had made a decent start to the season, but a run of four consecutive league defeats has knocked them down into sixth, consequently ending Jason Tindall’s time in charge of the Cherries.
It could be argued that neither side need this fixture in the grand scheme of things, but regardless it is still a massive opportunity for both clubs to push for an unlikely domestic trophy.
Manchester United vs West Ham United (7:30pm)
This is arguably the stand out draw of the round, with two of the Premier League’s high flyers going at it in a star-studded clash at Old Trafford.
David Moyes has been given a huge boost with Tomas Soucek’s controversial three game ban being overturned, providing the Hammers with a huge aerial threat, as well as a rock in the centre of the park. However, he will be without Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard, as he is cup-tied.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to make changes from the disappointing three-all draw at the weekend against Everton, with Dean Henderson set to come into the side to replace David De Gea, after a shaky display against the toffees.
United will also be without Paul Pogba, who has picked up a thigh injury. However, it does provide the possibility of summer signing Donny Van De Beek making a rare start.
The two sides met earlier on in the season, resulting in the Red Devils coming away with a win at the Olympic Stadium. However, since then David Moyes’ side has gone on a storming run and he will hope that this continues, when he comes to face his former employer on Tuesday night.
Wednesday 10th February
Swansea City vs Manchester City (5:30pm)
This contest between Swansea and Manchester City has the potential to be an exciting draw for a neutral to watch, with two attacking sides in great form coming head to head at the Liberty Stadium.
Manchester City are obviously the favourites, being the Premier League club. Especially, with Pep Guardiola’s side in impeccable form, sitting at the top of the table on a 14 game winning streak, in all competitions.
However, the Welsh side managed by Steve Cooper are also on a great run and are without loss so far in 2021.
These two actually faced off in the FA Cup quarter finals back in 2019, in an entertaining and controversial clash. Manchester City prevailed by a 3-2 score line and actually went on to win the trophy later that year.
The two unbeaten runs have been very impressive for them both, but on Wednesday night, something has got to give for either the Swans or the Citizens.
Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (7:30pm)
An all Premier League meeting between the Foxes and the Seagulls takes place on Wednesday evening, as both Brendan Rodgers and Graham Potter vow for a spot in the last eight of the FA Cup.
Both managers are doing great jobs for their respective clubs, with Leicester competing for a Champions League spot and Brighton looking set to enter a fifth successive Premier League campaign.
The previous meeting between the two earlier on in the season was a convincing three goal victory for the Midlands side, but since then Brighton have picked up their form, with triumphs over Tottenham and Liverpool in recent games.
Leicester are one of the sides that this competition is a huge opportunity for, and this game will be a true indication of whether the four-time finalists can go one better.
Sheffield United vs Bristol City (7:30pm)
On paper, this game is the least attractive draw of the round for a neutral. However, it could be argued that neither team has anything to lose, so there is potential for it to be a very open game between the Blades and the Robins.
It has been a miserable season for Chris Wilder’s side, but a successful cup run could be the light at the end of the tunnel for the South Yorkshire side. It has been for other previous relegated sides, with Wigan Athletics 2013 triumph being the stand out.
Despite Sheffield United’s misery this season, their form has picked up, with five wins out of their last eight in all competitions. The same can not be said for their Championship opponents, who have lost three on the trot and look set to be coasting to another mid-table finish in the league.
It may not be a spectacle in comparison to the other fixtures in the round, but it could prove to be an important game for both sides, as they both need the momentum.
Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur (8:15pm)
This draw is a case of two huge clubs that have really underachieved, in terms of silverware over recent years, going head-to-head. Spurs haven’t won a trophy for 13 years and the Toffees haven’t won a trophy for double that time, last being successful in 1995.
Both Mourinho and Ancelotti are serial winners, and they were both brought in to bring silverware back to two of England’s biggest clubs.
Mourinho has already got the North London side to the Carabao Cup final this season, set to be contested in April. He will be hoping for the same fate, when it comes to the trophy he won back in 2007 with Chelsea.
Neither side is yet to face any sort of challenge in the FA Cup so far, with Spurs defeating eighth tier Marine and championship strugglers Wycombe. Everton have come through two championship opponents in Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday, respectively.
Spurs’ hopes have been boosted by Harry Kane’s return, following an ankle injury. However, England team mate Dominic Calvert-Lewin has seen a return to form with two goals in as many games for the Everton striker, suggesting this could be a high scoring affair.
The only contest between the two English footballing giants so far this campaign came on the opening weekend of the season, where the Toffees prevailed by one goal to nil at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Thursday 11th February
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Southampton (5:30pm)
Thursday’s FA Cup matches kick off with an intriguing all Premier League contest between Wolves and Southampton.
The Saints have had a torrid week, conceding 12 goals in two games, and will be looking to bounce back in major fashion against Wolves at Molineux. The only positive Saints fans can take into this game, is that they knocked out holders Arsenal in the previous round.
Wolves haven’t been in great form themselves over the last couple of months, but a win against Arsenal and a stalemate in a Midlands derby with Leicester provides hope for Nuno Espírito Santo’s side. Suggesting that there could be an upturn in form on the way.
The two sides drew one-all earlier in the season, but this clash will see a winner whether it is after 90 minutes, 120 minutes, or an agonising penalty shoot-out.
Wolves will be hoping that if they can get past Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side, they will be able to go one better than two seasons ago, where they suffered a heart breaking semi-final defeat to Watford at Wembley.
Barnsley vs Chelsea (8:00pm)
The final match of the round is contested between Barnsley and eight-time winners Chelsea.
Despite being a division apart, they have already faced off once this season in the Carabao Cup. However, it wasn’t much of a contest as Chelsea thrashed Barnsley 6-0.
It could be argued that there is more on the line in this fixture, so it is more likely to be a tight affair.
Also, Barnsley have improved a lot since then, following Valérien Ismaël taking control as manager of the Tykes. His arrival has lifted Barnsley up to a comfortable position, in the middle of the Championship table.
Chelsea have also seen a big change since the previous fixture, with new manager Thomas Tuchel replacing Frank Lampard, following his dismissal in January.
The German manager has come in and transformed a struggling Chelsea side, to obtain three wins and a draw in his first four fixtures as Chelsea boss. The defence has been tightened, with only one goal being leaked in the four matches he has been in charge, so it will be difficult for Barnsley to break the Blues down.
Last years finalists will be hoping for more of the same when they travel to Oakwell on Thursday evening.
This years FA Cup has lost a bit of its magic, with fans being unable to witness the shocks and triumphs. From Crawley’s three goal drubbing of Leeds United, to Marine’s historic run to the third round proper.
However, it could be a huge opportunity for a side that has been on a trophy drought, to change their fortune. With the later rounds hopefully having some form of crowd in attendance.