The FA Cup’s 4th round gave us only one Premier League battle: Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City. After mid-week wins by Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest dwindled the competition to 16, such match ups are unavoidable, but for those who thrive on cup competitions for their Cinderella runs, the Cup’s fifth round couldn’t be any more accommodating.
Of the six lower-division sides who’ve made it this far, four are were draw against each other on Jan. 26, ensuring at least two Football League clubs will be in the competition’s quarterfinals. Those match ups feature Sheffield Wednesday hosting Charlton Athletic (Feb. 15) and Nottingham Forest visiting Sheffield United (Feb. 16) – the competition’s only club not in England’s top two tiers.
The tournament’s other two lower-level sides, Wigan and Brighton, also have winnable matches. The Latics will visiting the Premier League’s 19th place side, Cardiff City (Feb. 15), while Brighton & Hove Albion host Hull City to wrap up the round proper on Feb. 17.
All it will take for four lower-level sides to make it to the quarterfinals are minor upsets at Cardiff City and Falmer Stadiums. Given the talent available to the Bluebirds and Tigers, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either underdog land in the competition’s final eight.
As for the Premier League battles: Sunderland continues their quest for a second cup final when they host Southampton (Feb. 15); Chelsea and Manchester City square off in the round’s marquee match up at the Etihad (Feb. 15); Roberto Martínez welcomes his old club to Goodison when Everton hosts Swansea (Feb. 16); and Arsenal and Liverpool take part in the round’s other headlining tie when they meet at the Emirates (Feb. 16).
Feb. 15: Sunderland vs. Southampton
Feb. 15: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Charlton Athletic
Feb, 15: Cardiff City vs. Wigan Athletic
Feb. 15: Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Feb. 16: Everton vs. Swansea
Feb. 16: Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest
Feb. 16: Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Feb. 17: Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Hull City