The FA Cup dominates the fixture sheets in England this weekend, with most Premier League sides drawing lower-tier teams.
There are a pair of matchups between Premier League teams. Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City will do battle at White Hart Lane. It could be a great momentum builder for either side, or an acceleration governor for the losing side. Each comes into this game in good league form, with Spurs looking to build on a pair of wins in the league, while Leicester has two in its last three.
Spurs has been tripped up at this point in each of the last two seasons, falling to Arsenal and Leeds in consecutive third rounds. Meanwhile, the Foxes have also not reached further than this point since 2012, when they made it to the sixth round before succumbing to eventual winners Chelsea. Spurs won the Premier League meeting between these two sides earlier this year by a 2-1 score at King Power Stadium.
Meanwhile, Southampton and Crystal Palace will face off at St. Mary’s. This season has seen a surprising surge from Southampton, and they will likely look to turn that into more than just a solid league table finish. The cup could be a good place to score some silverware if Southampton can make a run, but they’ll need to get by a scrappy Crystal Palace side that could be distracted, with saving its top flight status likely taking priority.
Manchester United drew the lowest remaining team in League Two side Cambridge United, and they will play the only Friday fixture this afternoon. Hopefully, for the people in this bar, Cambridge can put a few past the Premier League giants. Not too many, though.
Chelsea has League One’s sixth placed team Bradford City, who made it to the final of the League Cup in 2012, taking down Arsenal and Aston Villa on their way. Liverpool pulled mid-table Championship side Bolton, while Sunderland will welcome a much-improved Fulham team to the Stadium of Light. The Whites have climbed from the cellar of the Championship up to 14th since the departure of mercurial German manager Felix Magath.
West Brom face a tough draw with in-form Birmingham, in the middle of the Championship table but winners of four of their last six league games, losing just one over that span. Manchester City also have a tougher road ahead as they get Middlesbrough, in a promotion position of second in the Championship table. The Boro has conceded just a single goal across all competitions since Christmas.
On Sunday, a trio of Premier League teams will take on lower division foes. Arsenal travels to Brighton Hove & Albion, who sit 19th in the Championship table but have distanced themselves from the relegation zone with three wins in its last four. Aston Villa will host Championship leaders Bournemouth, a tall task for the Claret & Blue to be facing a team they very well may see in Premier League play next season. Finally West Ham will visit third tier Bristol City, who sit second in the League One table.
Cardiff City vs. Reading (Saturday)
Preston North End vs Sheffield United (Saturday)
Derby County vs Chesterfield (Saturday)