FA Cup Preview: Chance for redemption for Arsenal and Manchester City in rematches
It’s pretty clear Arsene Wenger would rather have the first one back, but he gets a shot at a bit of redemption this weekend as Arsenal host Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Manuel Pellegrini will get the same opportunity as his side were pegged back in their hunt for the Premier League title by Chelsea, who became the first team to figure out a way to stop the Citizens at the Etihad.
With the competition down to just 16 clubs, many will start seriously thinking about seeing the competition all the way out.
There are just seven lower league teams remaining, and two are guaranteed to be done after this round with four paired together.
Without further ado, let’s take a sneak peak at the matchups scheduled for this weekend:
Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Jose Mourinho has done plenty of talking in the past few weeks, and he made sure to include Pellegrini on his list of verbal targets. No matter Mourinho’s off the field strategies, it worked as his team stopped City’s scorching hot home form in Chelsea’s 1-0 win two weeks ago.
Now, he’ll look to repeat the performance and knock last year’s runners-up out of the competition much earlier. Samir Nasri could return for Manchester City after five weeks on the sidelines, while defenders Gary Cahill and John Terry are out for Chelsea which could force Branislav Ivanovic into duties in the center of defense.
Cardiff City vs. Wigan Athletic
The cup holders Wigan are still in the competition, and are the only lower-league side to draw Premier League opposition in this round of the cup.
The Latics are on a fantastic run of form, having stopped Sheffield Wednesday’s record-setting Championship streak in convincing fashion. They haven’t lost an FA Cup match since January of 2012, and have already knocked out Crystal Palace.
Cardiff, meanwhile, have scored just five goals in their last seven matches across all competitions.
Sunderland vs. Southampton
With Jozy Altidore and Sunderland having already booked their place in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley, they’re gunning for another top finish in England’s other cup.
Along that road to Wembley, they dispatched Southampton 2-1 at the Stadium of Light, and they’ll have another opportunity to repeat that performance. These two teams have goals in them, having also played to a 2-2 draw in the league back in January.
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Charlton Athletic
The two clubs are 17th and 20th in the Championship table respectively, and the FA Cup will give the lower-league sides a much-needed break from their disappointing league seasons.
Charlton are currently on a six-match winless streak in the Championship. They have won an FA Cup before, all the way back in 1947. Sheffield would make the sixth round for the first time since 1997 with a win.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool
The Reds reinserted themselves into the title conversation with an impressive 5-1 win over Arsenal last weekend. Arsene Wenger claims the Gunners now have that “out of their system,” but there’s no question they’d do themselves a favor with a bit of redemption.
With the match at the Emirates this time around, the Gunners will have their home fans to back the performance, and they’ll want to prove last weekend was an anomaly, as Jose Mourinho took the opportunity to point out Wenger’s failures over the years following the loss.
Everton vs. Swansea City
Swansea draw another Premier League side on the heels of knocking out Manchester United in the fourth round. This will be the first time these two sides face off in the FA Cup since 1957, when Everton won handily over Second Division Swansea 3-0. It will be the Swans’ first cup match under new manager Garry Monk.
Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United remain the only third tier club left in the competition, as they take on Championship foes Nottingham Forest. Having defeated Fulham in the previous round, Blades manager now faces the club he scored 131 goals for as a player. His father also managed Forest to European Cups in 1979 and 1980.
Brighton Hove & Albion vs. Hull City
Into the fifth round for only the second time in the past 20 years, Brighton are managed by former Barcelona youth manager Oscar Garcia. They face a Hull City side whose manager Steve Bruce has only progressed past the fifth round of the FA Cup once ever.
Both of Hull City’s strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long are unavailable due to both being cup tied.