Europe's oldest cup competition is back and the 4th round of the FA Cup serves up a few intriguing talking points this weekend.
Here's where our attention will be focused.
😳 Chorley aiming for a miracle
“Our advantages are small ones,” says Chorley Town's director of football and assistant manager Andy Preece. "The ground, the changing facilities, hopefully, the weather, more the mental things that we’ll hopefully be able to get a little edge on.”
Sixth-tier Chorley is currently enjoying their longest-ever FA Cup run The National League North outfit have beaten opposition from a higher tier in each of the first three rounds so far but surely a win against Wolves, despite all of their Premier League struggles this season, would be a step too far?
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⚔️ Saints will test holders Arsenal
The Gunners found their feet around Christmas, with a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day seeming to be the catalyst for an impressive revival in both performances and results.
The Saints and Arsenal have squared off five times prior in the FA Cup, with Southampton losing four and winning none of them. Among those defeats was 2003 final and a 5-0 thumping at St Mary’s back in January 2017. Ralph Hasenhüttl's work at the club has been impressive and he'll be eager to go on a cup run; the Saints' last piece of silverware came in 1976 in this competition.
Two of the last three meetings between these sides have been score draws, although Arsenal did win at St Mary's last season and they'll be confident they can claim a 12th win in 13 FA Cup ties on the road.
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🪨 Lampard stuck between a rock and a hard place
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is in a tricky spot at the moment. Defeat against Championship outfit Luton would almost seal his fate, and a win wouldn't do much to quieten his detractors with the Blues languishing in 8th in the Premier League after spending 225m last summer.
There should be a start for talented teenage Scotsman Billy Gilmour in midfield. And then there are the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who simply have to impress on nights like these.
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👀 All eyes on team selections at Old Trafford
Last season’s fifth-round exit at the hands of Chelsea represented the furthest a Jürgen Klopp team had progressed in the FA Cup. The German's approach to the competition has seen him habitually select youngsters and the occasional hardened veteran like James Milner, but a 4th round FA Cup tie against archrivals Man United might force a rethink.
Liverpool finds themselves in 4th place in the Premier League after a dreadful run of five winless matches and 440 minutes without a goal in the top-flight. They've not yet scored a Premier League goal in 2021. United, meanwhile, are flying high at the summit and especially enjoying their matches on the road, with Solskjaer's side collecting 36 points out of a possible 40 away from Old Trafford.
It might not be a classic, seeing as though two of the last four head-to-heads have produced goalless draws, but the stakes are high. The United boss is much more of a FA Cup traditionalist and isn't likely to field a weakened side, whereas Klopp has to make changes because nothing is working for him right now.
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