The FA Cup fifth round is upon us as Lincoln City, Oxford United and Sutton United aim to cause massive cupsets. Sutton aren’t in action till Monday night so that preview will follow over the weekend.
Every tie has something riding on them with all the major teams away from home, giving way to potential shocks.
Burnley vs Lincoln City (12:30pm)
On paper, this tie is Burnley’s to lose but Lincoln aren’t going to bow out quietly.
Burnley will be wise to not repeat the mistakes of Ipswich and Brighton by fielding a second rate team. The home draw against Chelsea last weekend in the Premier League will certainly give the Clarets confidence that they can dispose of their non league visitors with ease.
Andre Gray and Sam Vokes up front will be a tough act for the Imps’ defence to keep out. They however will need a solid defence to keep out a high paced Lincoln side, who can do serious damage on the counter as shown against Ipswich in the third round.
The departure of Theo Robinsons will be an interesting point to watch out for because he was pivotal in getting the non league side to this stage.
These sides haven’t met since 1999 with the three of the last four meetings seeing 1-1 draws apiece in all competitions. The Lancashire club is however unbeaten in seven against the visitors
Its difficult to pick a winner because the visitors will go to Turf Moor with the belief that if they can see off Ipswich and Brighton then they can do a job on Sean Dyche’s side. Burnley’s home record however is deadly with only three defeats so far this season at home and they won’t want to add a defeat by Lincoln to that list.
The match will be tight and competitive but Burnley should just edge it and end Lincoln’s impressive 1 loss in 18 matches run.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Lincoln City
Result: Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City
Huddersfield Town vs Manchester City
David Wagner’s Terriers must hurl the bath tub let alone kitchen sink at Manchester City, if they want to reach the quarter finals.
Pep Guardiola will see this match as winnable but faces Jurgen Klopp’s former assistant manager so this will be no easy ride. The loss of Gabriel Jesus from injury will force a change up front but with Tuesday’s clash with Monaco looming, could we see a B team put out?
Huddersfield will certainly field their first team and are unbeaten at the Kirklees Stadium since November. In recent weeks, they dispatched fellow Championship promotion contenders within days of each other so Man City will need to hold their nerve and play like they did at Bournemouth if want to progress further.
Since the start of November has Huddersfield failed to score at least once in each fixture so City’s defence will need to be nailed down to an absolute tee or else goals could flow in at their end.
It should be a open game but expect Huddersfield to play with no fear and make life hard for the Citizens. Youngster, Kelechi Iheanacho should start this tie and expect him to end a two month goal drought.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Manchester City
Result: Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City
Middlesbrough vs Oxford United
If there is ever a potential fifth round banana skin, this is one that Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough won’t want to be on the wrong side of.
Boro have been struggling lately to win matches in the Premier League but will welcome this tie as an opportunity to get back to winning way. They however face an Oxford side that will fancy their chances at the Riverside Stadium.
Oxford’s recent FA Cup record against sides above them has been strong with Swansea City, Rotherham and Newcastle United being notable scalps in the last two seasons. They however go to Teesside to face a club that has been at home in each round of the FA Cup this season.
The match should be competitive but tight because Middlesbrough failed to find first half goals against Sheffield Wednesday then Accrington Stanley. Karanka should put out his strongest squad and attack rather than defend because a replay at the Kassam Stadium will probably be brutal.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-1 Oxford United
Result: Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford United
Millwall vs Leicester City
Leicester are currently in freefall and a trip to the Den won’t help matters. Defeat here then it could be time to say goodbye to Claudio Ranieri.
Millwall is no easy place to go and off the back of poor performances, it will be tough to see how the Foxes can outplay the Lions away from home. With a trip to Sevilla in midweek, Ranieri will need to think carefully about who to field in this clash to at least get it back to the King Power Stadium at a minimum.
The match is expected to be a sell out so only a good match will be acceptable. Wilfred Ndidi and Demarai Gray will be looking to impress for Leicester after wowing in the fourth round replay against Derby County.
They however face a strong Millwall squad containing Lee Gregory, Aiden O’Brien and Steve Morison amongst others. They will be difficult to keep quiet so expect them to find at least one goal.
Hopefully fans will see a match akin to that of the 4th round clash with Watford. Both teams will want to fly out of the blocks quickly so expect a high tempo from both sides but won’t be a surprise, if need a replay to separate these two.
Prediction: Millwall 1-1 Leicester City
Result: Millwall 1-0 Leicester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Chelsea
Antonio Conte will be hoping that his Chelsea side can get back to winning ways after a shock draw at Burnley.
Wolverhampton might be struggling in the Championship but will be dangerous after a shock win over Liverpool in the last round. With Helder Costa amongst their ranks, they will be threatening when get chances upon goal.
With such a big gap at the top, the Blues are unlikely to rest many players. Several fringe players are expected to feature including Nathan Ake, Michy Batshuayi and Ruben Loftus Cheek. Asmir Begovic could replace Thibaut Courtois in goal at Molineux so that the Belgian can get a break.
The head to head stats suggests that things could be too tight to predict with Chelsea having won this tie 40 times to the Wolves’ 38. There has been 26 draws in this meeting to add further intrigue to the mix.
The home side have lost their last two home matches by a single goal but they will have a strong home crowd behind them. Certainly won’t be shocked if the winner comes during injury time.
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Chelsea
Result: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea