helsea's Oscar, right, celebrates his goal against Stoke City with teammates Andre Schurrle, center, and Branislav Ivanovic during their English FA Cup fourth round soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

FA Cup Draw, Round 5: Liverpool to visit Arsenal, Manchester City host Chelsea

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With the exception of two ties that must be replayed, Sunday put a wrap on the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. In total, ten Premier League clubs have advanced, four Championship sides move on, and two League One sides will await their fate in replays.

One of those sides is Sheffield United, who went up 1-0 on Fulham in Sunday’s first match. The Blades then lost their captain to a straight red card, saw the Cottagers come back and equalize, and managed to hold on to force a replay. That game will take place on Tuesday, February 4 at Craven Cottage.

The second of Sunday’s games was much more straightforward. Stoke City paid a visit to Stamford Bridge. Oscar put in a tremendous free kick that put Chelsea ahead in the 27th minute. The hosts held on, Stoke barely threatened, and Chelsea advance to the final 16.


The draw for the next round was made immediately following the conclusion of the game at Stamford Bridge. The Fourth Round brought little in the way of giant-killings or cup-sets, and it looks like the Fifth Round will be much the same. Championship sides Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton face off, while Hull travel to Preston. The lower-division victor of the Nottingham Forest vs. Preston will play either Sheffield or Fulham.

But what the next round lacks in David-vs-Goliath matchups, it more than makes up for in excitement. Two matches feature top Premier League sides. First-placed Arsenal will host Liverpool, who will be looking to collect a trophy if their league position keeps slipping. Perhaps even more intriguing is Chelsea’s visit to the Etihad to face still-undefeated Manchester City. Should City really want that quadruple, they’re going to need to stay perfect at home, despite facing an almost even match in the Blues.

The next round will take place the weekend of February 15 and 16.

Round 5 Draw in Full

Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Brighton vs. Hull
Cardiff City vs. Wigan
Everton vs. Swansea
Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Charlton
Sunderland vs. Southampton
Sheffield United or Fulham v Nottingham Forest or Preston

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.