The 5th round draw of this year’s FA cup produced 8 games which could bring us drama, upsets and a weekend of pure entertainment. The first game of the weekend is Chelsea v Birmingham. Now Chelsea are the favourites in this competition and a team like Birmingham will be expected to bow down to superior technical skills of the blues’ world class players. However, Birmingham will not be afraid of Chelsea: only last year they were performing confidently in the Premier League when in 2011 Birmingham beat Arsenal 1 – 0 in the League Cup final, a result that was classed as the shock of the season. One year down the line, could they cause another upset?
Norwich are back in the Premier League and doing a good job of staying there. Norwich are 10th and look like as if they have been playing at this level for years. The reason for their recent success is mainly due to the team spirit, which has been revealed when Norwich have bagged late winners in crucial games. Several of these have came from talismanic striker Grant Holt, a player who has appeared in every single division across the country. Norwich just about scraped through to the 5th round of the FA Cup and now find themselves facing championship side Leicester city. Last year the Tigers had a heroic FA cup run, only to be stopped by Manchester City but this year they will be hoping to go one better. In what I suspect will be a tough game for both sides, players like Grant Holt could make all the difference.
In other games, Millwall or Southampton will face a struggling side in Bolton Wanderers. Southampton are top of the championship and must fancy themselves if they can progress to face Bolton. Another potential thriller of a game is Sunderland or Middlesbrough v Arsenal. Sunderland have found a new burst of life under coach Martin O’Neil while arsenal are still an inconsistent side. They will either play like a world class team or fall at the knees of the minnows in football. That’s why this game will be so great, We just don’t know what’s going to happen. Meanwhile a solid team in Everton have a home tie against either Blackpool or Sheffield Wednesday.
League two side Crawley Town have received endless publicity since their famous FA cup run last year. They were then a non- league team and got up to the fifth round of the FA cup only to be finally stopped by Premier League giant Manchester United. This year they are back again and standing between them and the quarter finals are Stoke City, a team with a good record in the FA cup themselves. In last year’s FA cup they went all the way to the final where they unfortunately faced Man City. They were defeated 1-0 but on the way to the final they historically beat Bolton 5-0, the highest scoring win ever in an FA cup semi final.
Another game will attract a lot of attention is when League 2 side Stevenage, known locally as the giant slayers, face one of the favourites, Tottenham Hotspur. Stevenage shocked the nation when they knocked out Newcastle United in last year’s FA cup. They are a team full of confidence and the players believe that they can beat anyone at home. However, they are up against Tottenham, a team with some of the most talented players on the planet, and who, in the meantime, are serious challengers for the Premier League title.
The last match in this FA cup weekend is high flying championship team Brighton v premier league giants Liverpool. In the last round Brighton stunned football fans by knocking out Newcastle United thanks to a deflected Will Buckley strike. This time they will have to go one step further if they are to beat Liverpool FC. The reds caused quite a shock themselves when they defeated the rivals Manchester United 2 – 1. Liverpool will come into this game as strong favourites and will fancy themselves to progress to the quarter final.