Friday, 28 January 2011

FA Cup Fourth Round - Ones to Watch

For my Nan and Grandad Henry - To them I owe my sarcastic nature and love of The Arsenal x

Well it's FA Cup time this weekend - Yah! We've got five all Premier League ties and 15 of the top flight left in the competition. A few promotion chasers will take a rest from their respective leagues and lets not forget a few non-league sides including Crawley Town after they beat Championship side Derby last time out. As much as I would love to preview all 16 matches for you, I do have a life (I do!) so I have chosen the ones that I, and some of my twitter friends are looking forward to.

Of course I'm looking forward to this after seeing Mr Wenger's men reach their first final in five years on Tuesday. It's hard to know which Arsenal will turn up as they seen to enjoy adding more games to their already packed schedule but hopefully they should come out all guns blazing at home. You would think that RVP and player of the season, Samir Nasri will be rested especially with the Barca game on the horizon. Expect Nicolas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin to start with some more of the golden youngsters on the bench. The Russian's form has dipped and a goal would give him some much needed confidence.

Unfortunately for Huddersfield, Benik Afobe has not been given permission to play against his parent club. They are also without top scorer Jordan Rhodes after he was ruled out for two months with his ankle ligaments, this game could come at a better time for the Yorkshire men. Having won four of their last six and sitting third in League 1 they will be no pushovers for the Londoners. Lee Clarke has built a good team that work hard and are more than capable of scoring goals.

KEY MAN: Peter Clarke - The defender will need to be at his assured best to stifle that Arsenal attack.

The Sven Goran Erikson connection continues as two of his old clubs meet at Meadow Lane. Both have been successful since the Swedish managers departure; with the Magpies gaining promotion and City becoming serious title challengers in the Premier League. Manager Paul Ince is no stranger to the competition having won it twice. He will be looking to former West Bromwich Albion player Lee Hughes to continue his scoring run of 11 goals in 18 games, while Craig Westcarr is only one behind on ten.

City continue to be erratic but they will see this game as another opportunity to win a trophy in Roberto Mancini's firs full season. With his huge squad to choose from expect to see changes in their line-up. Edin Dzeko should start as he ams to get full fitness and familiarise himself with the English game. Adam Johnson is out injured with an ankle problem which is disappointing for those of us who think he should be starting more.

KEY MAN: Micah Richards - Will hope to add to his only goal this season as he tries to become an integral part of the City machine.

This is the first time these clubs have met in this competition or any other. Midfielder John Mousinho is a doubt after he was taken off midway through their last league match, manager Graham Westley will wait to decide if he is fit to play although he does have a sizable squad to choose from. Although this game will aid the home team financially they may may see it as a diversion from League 2 where they are only five points off the play-off places.

Brian McDermott has injury worries with defender Alex Pearce and midfielder Brian Howard both doubtful although The Royals will have Noel Hunt back to bolster an attack that has 41 goals in the league. Like their hosts, they sit just outside the play-offs but a good cup run would surely please the fans and bolster the coffers as they look to rejoin the Premier League.

KEY MAN: Noel Hunt - Will need to hit the ground running.

Torquay welcome Steve Evans non league side to their Plainmoor Ground having won only two of their last six games. The home team have scored ten goals in those games but conceded just as many and a confident Crawley side will be looking to take advantage of that. Although Chris Zebroski has had 62, yes 62 shots this season, he is still not their top scorer so he will need to start hitting the target more. (Note to Helen Chamberlain: Have a word!)

Controversy seems to follow Crawley's manager wherever he goes but this shouldn't detract from a team who are clearly going places. They sit proudly at the top of the Blue Square Premier, a point ahead of their nearest rivals with three games in hand. Definitely promotion winning form and they have no need to fear League Two Torquay after beating Derby in the third round.

KEY MAN: Sergio Torres - Better than his namesake right now and not angling for a move

A tricky tie between two very attack minded teams so expect goals and lots of good play. The last time these sides met in the cup was in 1984 having been finally in the previous two seasons respectively. Danny Graham should start after only having made one substitute appearance in the cup so far.

Liam Bridcutt will make a return to Vicarage after impressing on his two month spell there in the 2008/2009 season. Brighton ave had their own drama this week exciting midfielder Elliott Bennett handing in a transfer request, although they will be hoping to keep hold of him with it before so close to the end of transfer window.

KEY MAN: Danny Graham - Watford's striker is a player who knows exactly where the goal is.

The other fourth round games are as follows:

Aston Villa v Blackburn

Birmingham City v Coventry City

Bolton Wanderers v Wigan Athletic

Burnley v Burton Albion

Everton v Chelsea

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

Sheffield Wednesday v Hereford United

Southampton v Manchester United

Swansea City v Leyton Orient

West Ham United v Nottingham Forest

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Stoke City

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