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FA Cup Round Four preview

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Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (R) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 24, 2021. PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP

The FA Cup epitomises the magic of the beautiful game for football fans across England. The fourth-round fixtures to be played on the weekend of the 23-24 January are perfectly poised for big cup upsets.

The previous round saw footballing fairy tales come true. Non-league Marine AFC saw its cup run come to an end on a cold night in Liverpool against a Tottenham side that included the likes of Gareth Bale, Joe Hart, and Lucas Moura.

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Similarly, League Two Crawley Town convincingly beat Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, and Newport County of the same division took Premier League Brighton all the way to penalties. These were almost two FA Cup upsets that would have left even more faces red. Find out more about online betting sites to try your luck next time.

However, with the Coronavirus rearing its ugly head and impacting several games across England, some of the third-round ties looked very different from normal – and not just due to the lack of fans. Aston Villa pitched a side full of under-18 and under-23 players, and Derby County brought an equally youthful side to non-league Chorley.

Could we see similar disruption to the fourth-round ties?
Quite simply, yes. Given the rate at which the virus is spreading in the UK, it is likely that more teams will be affected by Coronavirus. However, whether that means that youth teams have to be fielded or matches will be outright called off, we naturally do not know.

Several EFL fixtures set to be played in the coming weeks have been called off due to high numbers of positive Coronavirus tests.

If the nationwide England lockdown doesn’t begin to take significant effect by the penultimate weekend of January, there is every chance some FA Cup ties could be postponed.

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What is the draw for the FA Cup fourth round?
The draw was made on Monday 11th January 2021 and is composed of some eye-catching fixtures. As in any country, the lure of a cup competition is the chance for smaller sides to play against those at the very top of the game, and the FA Cup fourth round draw has made sure that exactly that occurs.

The draw is as follows:

  • Cheltenham Town v Manchester City
  • Bournemouth v Crawley Town
  • Swansea City v Nottingham Forest
  • Manchester United v Liverpool
  • Southampton/Shrewsbury v Arsenal
  • Barnsley v Norwich City
  • Chorley v Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Millwall v Bristol City
  • Brighton and Hove Albion v Blackpool
  • Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham
  • Fulham v Burnley
  • Sheffield United v Plymouth
  • Chelsea v Luton Town
  • West Ham United v Doncaster Rovers
  • Brentford v Leicester City
  • Everton v Sheffield Wednesday

Ties to watch out for…
Three of the most intriguing FA Cup ties place lower league opposition against Premier League big guns. Likely to be televised on various sports channels, Cheltenham Town of League Two takes on Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Manchester City side, semi-professional side Chorley will play a Wolves side consisting of players such as Ruben Neves and Adama Traore, and Championship team Luton Town face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.

Giant-killings are never impossible in the FA Cup and given the fairly unfavourable form that Chelsea find themselves in, Luton may quietly fancy their chances. Manchester City has shown that defensive gaps exist aplenty in their line up, and Cheltenham will be hoping that one of these shows against them.

Despite Chorley’s valiant cup run so far, it’s unlikely that they’ll take anything from the Wolves game – apart from perhaps another television appearance, respectfully.

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