The FA Cup 5th Round draw has thrown up some tantalising clashes on paper, probably even more so if you consider the possible rotation of some Premier League sides. So, whilst the 3rd and 4th rounds lacked appetising fixtures on paper, the results did enough to sustain my interest in the world’s oldest cup competition.
I couldn’t pick out enough TV games when the 4th Round draw was made, I had a horrible feeling we’d end up with Man Utd/Wigan polluting the airwaves and sure enough that came to fruition. This time though there was always going to be one decent looking tie to miss out, which gives you an indication of what a good draw this is.
There’s no Friday night game this time, to the disappointment of nobody, so your 5th Round weekend starts with Burnley vs Lincoln. I feel for Lincoln, they have done so well and although they’ve got a trip to a Premier League side, Turf Moor is not exactly Old Trafford in capacity but sadly for the Imps it is a bit of a fortress. Lincoln have also sold star striker Theo Robinson since the last round, which you have to say is a bit of a dick move. Granted it’ll probably help secure his and his family’s future for years to come but it severely dents Lincoln’s chances here, and isn’t that more important!? Burnley are 12th, 10 points clear of relegation and two games from Wembley. They’d be mad not to take this seriously.
More hard luck stories in the 3pm kick offs. Huddersfield, who are a very entertaining watch, host Man City in a match I’d actually like to see. I’ve no doubt Man City will win, especially if they play their reserves. That Aguero is a handful. It also seems fairly ludicrous that we have two League One sides in the last 16 and neither can get on the box. Millwall will be particularly annoyed (lock your doors) that drawing Champions/relegation candidates Leicester isn’t getting some airtime, especially as the country seems to be wrapped up in Leicester’s misery. I don’t think Claudio will be particularly bothered about this, with Champions League and relegation 6 pointers around the corner. Oxford are the other League One side in the hat, but they have drawn the dullest team left in Middlesbrough, and nobody wants to see that.
After you’ve recovered from those white hot 3pm games, get yourself settled in for Wolves vs Chelsea at 5.30pm. I can’t begrudge Wolves getting a home tie to a big side after they won so brilliantly at Anfield, but having watched them play at home in the league on Saturday, the only thing Chelsea have to worry about is falling asleep.
Two games for you to look forward to on Sunday, starting with a London derby. Free-scoring (sometimes) Fulham welcome Tottenham, and I think this could be the game of the weekend. Both sides will go at it, Spurs definitely won’t want a replay with the Europa League back up and running and Fulham seem to only play one way. That could be to their detriment though if Spurs play a strong enough side, but given they went full strength in Belgium I’d expect a weaker side here. It wouldn’t be an FA Cup weekend without Man Utd on the TV. Their 57th consecutive FA Cup to be televised will be from Ewood Park, as struggling Blackburn play host to Man Utd’s second string (probably). With Man Utd also fielding a strong side in the Europa League on Thursday you can imagine more squad players will get minutes here. Either way, Owen Coyle might have two wins over Rafa Benitez this season but I don’t think he’ll add Mourinho to his manager trophy room.
What better way to kill the romance of the cup than to put the showpiece game on a Monday night? Non-league Sutton vs Arsenal should have a prime Saturday spot and not shoehorned into the schedule after the One Show. It’s the tie Sutton will have been dreaming of and I’m sure they’ll have a great time playing against Lucas Perez, Danny Welbeck and Kieran Gibbs, but astro turf or no astro turf I can’t see the Gunners losing this, as good a story as it would be.
So 8 games, no all Premier League affairs and plenty of scope for shocks. How many of the last 8 will be top flight sides? I’m going to predict 7, with Millwall being the odd one out and doubtless set for a trip to Stamford Bridge in the Quarters. I’ll be back on Tuesday with the full 5th Round review, so enjoy the weekend and good luck if your team is involved.