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FA Cup Fourth Round Preview

Southampton v Arsenal

The FA Cup returns this weekend as 32 teams enter the fourth round, hoping for a place in the last 16 of the 2020/21 competition. In typical FA Cup fashion, there were some shock results in round three.

Non-league side Chorley FC were the main giant-killers, defeating Wayne Rooney’s Derby County 2-0 at Victory Park to set up a fourth-round tie at home to Premier League side Wolves. Crawley was the other surprise package from the previous round as the League Two side dismantled top-flight Leeds United with an emphatic 3-0 victory at The People’s Pension Stadium, they take on Bournemouth in this round. Elsewhere, there are three all Premier League matches, with Man United v Liverpool the pick of the bunch while the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers, and Luton all face challenges against Sheffield United, Brighton, West Ham, and Chelsea respectively.

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Chorley v Wolves

Sixth-tier Chorley did a professional job against Derby’s depleted squad in the third round, comfortably recording a 2-0 win to progress to their furthest ever stage in the FA Cup. In this year’s competition, Chorley has been the surprise package, eliminating League One sides Wigan and Peterborough in rounds one and two before their triumph over Derby. In the Vanarama National League North, Chorley has won three of their last five matches and are ninth in the table.

Wolves only recent win has come in the FA Cup – a third-round victory over Crystal Palace. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has struggled of late and is without a win in their last six league matches, losing four and drawing one. Wolves have also struggled to keep the goals out recently. Their only clean sheet came in the 1-0 cup win over Palace but, in Premier League matches, Wolves have not kept a clean sheet in their last seven, shipping 12 in this time.

Chorley currently has a fully fit squad and no suspensions. Jonny (knee) and Raul Jimenez (head) remain out long-term for Wolves while Daniel Podence (calf) and Fernando Marcal (groin) will also be out until the end of January.

Chorley was excellent in the third round and will certainly give Wolves a tough evening at Victory Park. However, the Premier League side should have enough quality to ease past their lower league opponents.

Chorley – 16/1

Wolves – 1/10

Draw – 9/1

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Southampton v Arsenal

After an exceptional start to the season, Southampton has stuttered of late. The Saints have only won two of their last seven matches in all competitions, beating Liverpool 1-0 two weeks ago, and defeating League One side Shrewsbury 2-0 in the FA Cup third round. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side has struggled for goals outside of these two matches. They have failed to find the net in four of their last seven matches and scored just four during this run.

Arsenal has turned their season around in recent weeks and is on a six-match unbeaten run. Mikel Arteta’s side has won five and drawn just one of their last six, which included a 2-0 victory after extra time against Newcastle in the previous round of the FA Cup. Last year’s FA Cup champions have been much more solid of late, keeping five clean sheets in a row in all competitions and scoring 13 in this time.

Southampton will be without William Smallbone (knee), Nathan Tella (knee), Michael Obafemi (surgery), Moussa Djenepo (thigh), Nathan Redmond (groin), Jannik Vestergaard (knee). Danny Ings is likely to return after catching coronavirus but Oriol Romeou and Mohammed Salisu are unlikely to feature. Pablo Mari will be unavailable for Arsenal with a calf injury, Danny Ceballos may also miss out with a calf injury.

With so many players out, Southampton’s inconsistent patch will continue against Arsenal this weekend. The Gunners look strong on current form and should progress to the last 16 comfortably.

Southampton – 15/8

Arsenal – 7/5

Draw – 23/10

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Brentford v Leicester

Brentford are on an exceptional run of form and have only lost one game in their last 18 in all competitions – a 2-1 loss to Tottenham in the EFL Cup semi-final earlier this month. More recently, the Bees have notched up six wins in their last eight, scoring 15 goals in the process. Thomas Frank’s side are the third top scorers in the Championship this season, scoring 36 in 22 games and have the second-best goal difference in the second-flight (+15). They have also lost just one league game at home all season.

Leicester extended their winning streak to four in a row earlier this week with a strong 2-0 win over Chelsea – a result which took the Foxes to the top of the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers’ side has now only lost one match in their last 11, winning eight and drawing just two. Leicester is also one of the most in-form teams away from home in the Premier League. They have lost just one and drawn one of their nine league games on the road this season.

Josh Dasilva will return for Brentford from his recent suspension but Shandon Baptiste remains out with a knee injury. Dennis Praet will be out for Leicester with a thigh injury but Nampalys Mendy could be back in contention following a recent neck injury.

Both of these teams are in blistering form and like to attack, which bodes well for potential goals. While it will be a close-run match, Leicester may just edge past Brentford. But don’t rule out the possibility of a draw after 90 minutes.

Brentford – 7/2

Leicester – 8/11

Draw – 27/10

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Man United v Liverpool

Man United added to their impressive recent Premier League form last weekend with a 0-0 draw away to Liverpool, taking them to 12 games without a loss. It was United’s third clean sheet in a row and the Red Devils have only let in three goals in their last six in all competitions. In the previous round, United beat Championship side Watford 1-0 and were made to work hard in order to progress to the last 32.

Following last week’s goalless draw with United, Liverpool have won only one game in their last five in all competitions, drawing three and losing one. Attack appears to be a problem for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they have not scored in their last three Premier League matches and struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities against United last weekend. Away form is also an issue this season. Liverpool have only won two of their last eight away from Anfield.

Marcos Rojo (calf), Phil Jones (knee), Brandon Williams (knock), and Facundo Pellistri (coronavirus) are all ruled out for United. For Liverpool Konstantinos Tsimikas, Diogo Jota, Virgil Van Dijk, and Joe Gomez are all out with knee injuries and Naby Keita is lacking match fitness. Joel Matip could return from his recent groin injury.

This match failed to live up to the expectation when the two teams met in the Premier League last weekend with a drab 0-0 draw. Liverpool have been unconvincing of late, particularly in attack, which will play into United’s hands for this FA Cup tie.

Man United – 8/5

Liverpool – 13/8

Draw – 12/5

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