Wednesday, September 28

FA Cup fourth round: 10 things to watch this weekend | FA Cup


1) Will Rangnick get more out of Pogba?

An enormously difficult week for Manchester United ends with them facing one of the in-form teams in the Championship. Boro coach Chris Wilder has banned his players from exchanging jerseys with Cristiano Ronaldo, saying they are not on a “tourist tour”. His last visit to Old Trafford was with Sheffield United, their 2-1 victory a rare highlight in a doomed final season, and Wilder has always had a taste for pinching the nose of the golden elite. Speaking of which, Paul Pogba is fit enough to be selected by Ralf Rangnick. Will Rangnick be able to find Pogba a permanent role in the team where José Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær failed? Or, with the Frenchman’s contract moving towards a free transfer, will the caretaker coach try? “He could even be in the starting XI,” Rangnick said on Thursday, though Pogba doesn’t appear to be a perfect fit for Rangnick’s prescribed style. JB

2) Pilgrims try to storm Stamford Bridge

It was after last season’s fourth-round tie that Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard, despite beating Luton 3-1 through a Tammy Abraham hat-trick. Mason Mount received the bracelet that day, a deliberate gesture from a manager who knew his likely fate. Now for the visit of Plymouth Argyle. On Thursday, Pilgrims manager Steven Schumacher, Wayne Rooney’s former colleague in Everton’s youth team, said: “I’m sure the boys will find the energy from somewhere to go to Stamford Bridge.” His team have endured long recent trips to Fleetwood and Doncaster, while many Chelsea players have enjoyed a break in the international window; Schumacher called it “winter vacation”. Plymouth, seventh in League One, hope to emulate Bradford in 2015 and pull off a famous FA Cup upset at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps Jordan Houghton, a former Chelsea youth player, can reprise the role of Filipe Morais, who scored that day against his old club. JB

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Jordan Houghton (centre, number 4) could come back to haunt his former club Chelsea on Saturday.
Jordan Houghton (centre, number 4) could come back to haunt his former club Chelsea on Saturday. Photograph: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK/Shutterstock

3) Ghosts of past dislikes for the Hammers trio

There is a scene in the 1994 documentary, ‘Inside Story – the Manageress’, in which 24-year-old Karren Brady, then the general manager of Birmingham City, jokes on the phone with club owner David Sullivan about the possibility of face the Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup Third Round: “If they beat us, we’ll pack it.” Naturally, the non-league Harriers won 2-1 at second-tier City. Kidderminster beat a Preston side containing David Moyes in the fourth round, only to lose controversially to West Ham in the fifth round. Brady and Sullivan stayed in Birmingham, of course, despite the embarrassment of the third round. Now West Ham’s vice-chairman and joint-chairman, respectively, they will surely have winced at the draw this time around, even if Kidderminster are the lowest-ranked team left in the draw. The NL North side eliminated Reading in the last round at Aggborough; Moyes surely won’t take them lightly. MEGABYTE

4) Lampard must find a suitable defensive duo

Frank Lampard has arrived as Everton’s new manager and will be looking to make an immediate impact and prove doubters wrong after a year out of a job following his sacking from Chelsea last January. At Stamford Bridge, his teams often seemed disorganized, which hastened his downfall. If he can bring the discipline his Everton predecessor Rafa Benítez unexpectedly lacked, it will be a positive start for a side that consistently concede goals from set pieces. Central defender Michael Keane has struggled all season and was left out by Duncan Ferguson in the loss to Aston Villa. He will need the new regime at Goodison Park to win back his trust. Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey are the other options in the center of defense and it will be important to select the right long-term partner in order to build a foundation for the newly formed backbone of his team. W.U.

Will Frank Lampard get the best of Michael Keane or will he find a new central defender partner?
Will Frank Lampard get the best of Michael Keane or will he find a new central defender partner? Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/Shutterstock

5) The U enjoy a ‘free hit’ against Hatters in form

Cambridge’s reward for knocking out Newcastle in the third round was to win hearts and minds, rather than a lucrative away tie against a Premier League giant. Instead, the mid-table League One side have drawn Luton at home and, in the words of full-back George Williams, it feels like a “free kick”, although it will be for both teams. Nathan Jones’s side at Luton are within reach of a Championship playoff place, having collected 17 points from their last eight games. That momentum began after almost a month of Covid cancellations when they crushed Harrogate in the third round. The Hatters beat Swansea in midweek and hosted Barnsley on Tuesday, so Jones can rest the players. Your hosts welcome live BBC cameras for the first time since 2015, when the U defeated Manchester United in a memorable encounter on Friday night. JB

6) Mitrovic a man with a point to prove

Premier League leaders Manchester City take on their Championship equivalents at the Etihad. Both teams are scoring at will: City already have 55 league goals this season, but that is dwarfed by Fulham’s 74. Aleksandar Mitrovic is a key reason behind the bulging net at Craven Cottage, thanks to his 28 goals in 26 league games. The Serbian striker has rarely convinced as a top player since joining Newcastle in 2015, but he will relish the prospect of threatening City’s centre-backs to help show he can shine against the best, especially with possible promotion on the line. in the season finale. Mitrovic’s best return in the top flight was 11 goals for Fulham in 2018-18. It’s a respectable figure, but Mitrovic will feel he can do more from Saturday. W.U.

7) Chance for the Spurs trio to claim

Spurs’ FA Cup tie against Brighton will likely come too soon for new signings Antonio Conte, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, with the latter only meeting his new team-mates for the first time on Thursday following the approval of your work permit. That means potential opportunities for Oliver Skipp, Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to prove they deserve a place in Conte’s revamped midfield. With games remaining on the teams above them and a top-four finish still a strong possibility, some coaches might choose to protect their players in the Cup. Having not played a game for nearly two weeks, Conte would be foolish. to rest any of their strongest XI here, especially after the scare at home to Morecambe in the last round. Skipp, Winks and Hojbjerg will surely be keen to prove they are not as disposable as the late Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele by the end of the campaign. MEGABYTE

Oliver Skipp makes a challenge during Tottenham's nervous third round win over Morecambe.
Oliver Skipp makes a challenge during Tottenham’s nervous third round win over Morecambe. Photograph: J.P. Fletcher/Action Plus/Shutterstock

8) Forest’s flying duo could take down Foxes

Arsenal learned of the double threat of Nottingham Forest’s Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson at their expense in the third round. Once again, they will be key to Forest’s chances of success against East Midlands rivals Leicester. Apparently, the pair have synchronized down the right flank to terrify the left backs. Luke Thomas is the current starter at Leicester, having started the last two games following Timothy Castagne’s injury. The 20-year-old has impressed when called up this season, but Forest is confident of causing problems against an inexperienced defender who will need the cover of the winger in front of him. Spence and Johnson have both been the subject of offers from Premier League clubs in January and will be more than happy to show potential buyers that they are worth another offer in the summer. W.U.

9) Cardiff may not match Wembley’s effort

Cardiff travels to Anfield on Sunday for a replay of the 2012 League Cup final, in which Liverpool won at Wembley after a penalty shootout. Things shouldn’t be so close this time around, especially with Cardiff losing their attacking talisman Kieffer Moore to Bournemouth on transfer deadline day. City also lost Ryan Giles, recalled by parent club Wolves and now on loan at Blackburn: only two players in the Championship have more assists than the 22-year-old. Jordan Hugill has been added to the Bluebirds’ front row, but this seems like a tough question for Steve Morison, who has already admitted that he will make changes from the side that beat Barnsley on Wednesday. For Liverpool, this could be an opportunity to rest key players ahead of a tricky Premier League test against Leicester in midweek. MEGABYTE

10) Bad draw for Boreham Wood?

It’s been quite a journey for Adrian Clifton. After serving three prison sentences as a youngster, the striker has played for nine clubs but is now a commanding presence atop Boreham Wood. The childhood Arsenal fan scored on his third touch to seal a shock third-round victory over AFC Wimbledon, celebrating with a textbook knee slip from Thierry Henry. Boreham Wood are yet to lose at home this season and were disappointed by the draw at Bournemouth. It’s a bad mix: Not exactly a big day (the 11,329-capacity Vitality Stadium is smaller than some NL fields), but also a matchup with a terrific team buoyed by a string of high-profile signings in January. . The Cherries are pushing for promotion to the Premier League but will be wary of being handed over by unwelcome opponents. MEGABYTE


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