Stickied FA Cup Fifth Round Preview


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Ipswich Town
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While the Premier League title race is practically a foregone conclusion, as Liverpool remain unbeaten and romp miles ahead of everyone else, at least the FA Cup still provides a few other teams with a genuine opportunity for their shot at silverware this season.

As we head into March, the Fifth Round gets underway, with a number of juicy fixtures to whet our appetites - even though all of the fixtures are scheduled to take place in midweek. Let’s take a look at each game and attempt to predict which teams will make it through to the last eight of the famed English competition.

Portsmouth vs Arsenal
Monday 2nd March, Kick-Off 19:45

It almost seems like a lifetime ago since Portsmouth lifted the FA Cup at Wembley in 2008. Their fortunes have obviously changed considerably since then, and although climbing out of League One will be Pompey’s priority, they will certainly relish the opportunity to entertain Arsenal at a packed Fratton Park. That said, the Gunners really shouldn’t encounter any difficulty here and are likely to make easy progress.

Chelsea vs Liverpool
Tuesday 3rd March, Kick-Off 19:45

On paper, this is the biggest tie of the Fifth Round, although much will depend on which teams take to the pitch. While it’s fair to say that Frank Lampard will probably field the strongest starting eleven available for Chelsea, one has to wonder if Jurgen Klopp will do the same. The Liverpool boss has fielded youngsters and fringe players in both the EFL Cup and the FA Cup, with maximum focus on the Premier League and Champions League. If he does that again at Stamford Bridge, that will certainly boost the chances of Chelsea going through.

Reading vs Sheffield United
Tuesday 3rd March, Kick-Off 20:00

In each of the last two rounds, Reading needed replays to get past Blackpool and Cardiff City. Parked in no-man’s land in the Championship, neither fearing relegation too much or likely to push towards the play-off zone, they won’t mind another draw and replay in this last-16 encounter. As the surprise package in the Premier League this season, Sheffield United are unlikely contenders for a Champions League spot, which means they won’t want any fixture congestion. Expect the Blades to go hell for leather to get the job done at the Madejski.

West Bromwich Albion vs Newcastle United
Tuesday 3rd March, Kick-Off 20:00

Returning to the Premier League remains the top priority for West Brom, although they won’t renounce an opportunity for FA Cup progress. Back in strong form of late, the Baggies top the Championship and, at home against Newcastle United, you have to fancy their chances. The Magpies have been dire this season and, after a replay to get past Rochdale, then extra-time to defeat Oxford United, it’s hard to see them getting through to the Quarter-Finals.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Manchester City
Wednesday 4th March, Kick-Off 19:45

For a spell, it looked as though Sheffield Wednesday might be amongst the teams pushing for promotion, yet inconsistency plagues the side managed by Gary Monk. Given that the Owls are taking on cup holders Manchester City, they’re unlikely to cause any upsets in this game. According to the latest FA Cup betting odds, the side managed by Pep Guardiola are tipped as 7/4 favourites to win the competition again, having pretty much given up on the Premier League title race.

Leicester City vs Birmingham City
Wednesday 4th March, Kick-Off 19:45

There’s no doubt that Leicester City have enjoyed an excellent campaign under Brendan Rodgers this season, having become genuine contenders for silverware once again. Amongst the top four contenders in the Premier League, the Foxes were edged out of the EFL cup by Aston Villa in the Semi-Finals, therefore they’ll be eager to progress in the FA Cup. In reality, Birmingham City shouldn’t pose any serious problems.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Norwich City
Wednesday 4th March, Kick-Off 19:45

Since taking the helm, Jose Mourinho has improved the fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur. The Portuguese coach has an insatiable appetite for silverware and the tournament is the best opportunity for Spurs this season. Although the battle for survival in the Premier League remains the primary focus for Norwich City, they’re unlikely to bow out of the FA Cup without a fight. Nevertheless, this could be the end of the road for the Canaries in the cup.

Derby County vs Manchester United
Thursday 5th March, Kick-Off 19:45

The inevitable headline for this game will be Wayne Rooney lining up for Derby County against his former club. Since returning to England from his spell in the MLS, the veteran forward has shown he still has plenty of quality. Manchester United will, of course, be wary of their former star, although they should pack enough punch at Pride Park to avoid the need for a replay at Old Trafford.

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