ENGLAND - Premier League action takes a back seat this weekend to the fourth round proper of the 2012/2013 F.A. Cup. Fifteen games are on the slate over the weekend and fans of the cup know the only thing you can guarantee is that you can't guarantee anything.
Every round hosts at least one giant-killing upset and this round will likely hold true to form. But with 15 games on the docket, which ones should you focus on?
We've picked 5 games we feel are the most intriguing matchups of the fourth round:
Norwich City vs Luton Town - This match features the biggest difference in league positioning between two sides with more than 100 spots dividing premiership Norwich, from non-league Luton. It's hard to see Luton escaping Norwich with a win, but a draw and replay at home could result in the biggest shocker of the tournament thus far.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal - Fresh off an impressive upset over Newcastle, Brighton will host an Arsenal side coming off their best performance of the season. But don't count out the Seagulls in this one as Arsenal's only had three days rest and Wenger's men have notoriously flopped out of cup games to inferior opposition (see Bradford vs Arsenal league cup quarterfinals)
Hull City vs Barnsley - Hull City may be one of the best footballing sides many people don't know about right now. Referred to by some as the Barcelona of the northeast, Hull plays an attractive possession game that's very easy on the eyes. Barnsley is on the other end of the Championship table, but played Hull well in the league meeting between the two sides in November. Barnsley's propensity to give up goals (25) would likely see them chasing in this one, which could lead to a wide open and entertaining contest.
QPR vs Milton Keynes Dons - The intriguing aspect of this one is to see whether Harry Redknapp has righted the Rangers ship for good. Unbeaten in their last 4 and fresh of the signing of French international Loic Remy, Rangers appear set to steamroll the NPower League 1 Dons. However, a stumble in the cup could see QPR slip back to the edge of the Premier League cliff.
Leeds Utd. vs Tottenham - Had this one been played at White Hart Lane, you'd slot Spurs into the next round before kickoff, but Tottenham struggled at Ellen Road the last time these sides met in a cup tie, needing a replay at home to advance. Expect Leeds to be up for this one. If they can keep it level going into the last 10 minutes or so, they might be able to take advantage of Tottenham's tendency to give up late goals.
Here's the full lineup for the fourth round of the F.A. Cup:
Saturday 26 January 2013
1. Stoke City VS Manchester City
2. Norwich City VS Luton Town
3. Macclesfield Town VS Wigan Athletic
4. Derby County VS Blackburn Rovers
5. Hull City VS Barnsley
6. Middlesbrough VS Aldershot Town
7. Brighton & Hove Albion VS Arsenal
8. Reading VS Sheffield United
9. Huddersfield Town VS Leicester City
10. Queens Park Rangers VS Milton Keynes Dons
11. Bolton Wanderers VS Everton
12. Manchester United VS Fulham
Sunday 27 January 2013
1. Brentford VS Chelsea
2. Leeds United AFC VS Tottenham Hotspur
3. Oldham Athletic VS Liverpool