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FA Cup fourth round preview, predictions: Upsets galore?

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It is time for the madness of the FA Cup to take over from the Premier League this weekend.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores here ]  

The fourth round is here with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as 32 teams remain. 13 PL teams remain but with only two all-PL ties plenty of upsets are expected and we could see the number of top-flight teams in the last 16 take a hit.

Click on the link above to follow all the FA Cup action live, while we will have updates from all the games across the weekend.

Below you will find a brief preview and score prediction for each FA Cup fourth round game.


FA Cup fourth round

Friday

Derby County vs. Leicester City: Two teams in very different form. Derby are flying in the second-tier and in the playoff spots. Leicester have yet to win away in the PL this season and are five points above the drop zone. Ranieri will shuffle his squad, so expect an upset. Derby to win, 2-1.

Saturday

Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers: Jurgen Klopp‘s side have one win in seven games in January and have lost two-straight games at home. Set to field a weakened team against second-tier Wolves with Chelsea coming up on Tuesday, I smell an upset. 2-1 to Wolverhampton.

Southampton vs. Arsenal: Saints have plenty of injuries but will be full of confidence after beating Liverpool to reach the EFL Cup final. Arsenal will be fresh and fancy this game as they look to win their third FA Cup in four years. Gunners to win at St Mary’s, 2-1.

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City: An all-Premier League clash at Selhurst Park which both managers could do without. Pep Guardiola will play several academy products and rest Claudio Bravo, while Palace boss Sam Allardyce has yet to win in 5 PL games in charge of the Eagles. Man City to edge this 2-1.

Chelsea vs. Brentford: This game will be trickier than most expect. Antonio Conte will give minutes to plenty of youngsters as resting key men for the Premier League clash at Liverpool is the priority. That said, Chelsea will have too much talent for second-tier Brentford. Watch out for Scott Hogan up front. 3-1 to Chelsea.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wycombe Wanderers: Spurs have a hectic fixture list coming up with Europa League action returning next month. A defensive injuries pile up, expect Cameron Carter-Vickers (USMNT teenager) to get a run out against fourth-tier Wycombe. We will see another amazing FA Cup victory for Wycombe after their run to the semifinal in 2001? Probs not. Still, they will give Spurs a scare. 2-1 to Tottenham.

Burnley vs. Bristol City: Given the Clarets’ superb home form in the PL this season (25 of their 26 points have come at Turf Moor) you’d expect Sean Dyche‘s side to win this easily. However, they’ll rest players which may make it a little trickier. Bristol City will go for it but they are embroiled in a relegation battle to stay in the second tier. Watch out for Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham. Replay on the way: 1-1

Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley: Aitor Karanka will rotate his team and hope they can grab a big win and score plenty of goals to boost confidence. Boro could do without this game and will be more focused on their battle against relegation in the Premier League. 2-0 to Boro.

Lincoln City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion: The fifth-tier Imps will be looking for another famous upset after they beat second-tier Ipswich in the last round. Brighton are battling for promotion to the Premier League for the first-time ever and manager Chris Hughton will make that his priority. No more upsets for Lincoln. Brighton to win 3-1.

Blackburn Rovers vs. Blackpool: A big local rivalry in Lancashire will stir up quite the atmosphere. Both teams are struggling with Blackburn in the Championship relegation zone and Blackpool in midtable in the fourth-tier. As is most often the case in local rivalry matches, don’t expect a classic. 1-1.

Oxford United vs. Newcastle United: Oxford have plenty of previous when it comes to giant-killing in the cup and they knocked out Premier League side Swansea City last season. Newcastle are battling it out with Brighton for the second-tier title and Rafael Benitez has an incredible squad to choose from. Newcastle will beat their third-tier opponents comfortably. 3-1.

Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town: German-American manager David Wagner continues to keep Huddersfield in the playoff place in the second-tier and they will face a tricky trip across the Pennines to Rochdale. The third-tier team are also in the playoffs and will fancy their chances of causing an upset. Expect a draw. 2-2.

Sunday

Sutton United vs. Leeds United: The lowest-ranked team left in the competition face Leeds who are battling away in the Championship for a playoff spot. The gulf in class should be massive but Leeds will rest a few players and Sutton upset League One AFC Wimbledon in the last round. That said, Leeds will go through and win 2-0.

Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic: The likes of Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw have plenty to prove, but it won’t be easy against a Wigan side who have picked up considerably in recent weeks with three-straight wins. Jose Mourinho has had an EFL Cup semifinal, Premier League and soon Europa League to contend with. He won’t want a replay but I think the Latics can pull this off. 1-1.

Fulham vs. Hull City: The Cottagers are scrapping away for a playoff spot in the Championship and will be expected by many to beat Hull. Marco Silva’s side beat Manchester United on Wednesday but crashed out 3-2 on aggregate of the EFL Cup at the semifinal stage. With Premier League survival the priority, Hull will make plenty of changes. Fulham to win 2-0.

Millwall vs. Watford: Another potential upset alert is going off for a Premier League club. With Walter Mazzarri‘s Watford winning just one of their last nine games, he will field a weakened team against the third-tier Lions. Millwall beat an under-strength Bournemouth 3-0 in the last round. Expect them to take another PL scalp. 2-0 to Millwall.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Ex-England midfielder Gascoigne on trial for sexual assault

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LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor has alleged that former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted a woman on a train by “forcibly and sloppily” planting an unwanted kiss on her lips.

Prosecutor William Mousley’s comments Monday came as Gascoigne, who has struggled with alcohol and mental-health problems, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with sexual assault of the female passenger.

Mousley said the former England star “put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”

The 52-year-old Gascoigne denies the charge.

The alleged victim has told the court that she froze when the man, who appeared drunk, kissed her in August 2018. She says she did not realize it was Gascoigne until after the alleged incident.

USMNT looks to build with Nations League visit to Canada

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The United States has faced much criticism since failing to miss out on the World Cup two years ago. If Gregg Berhalter is to silence the naysayers, he must use the Nations League as a building block for sustained success with a view towards 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Step 1 was completed Friday with a 7-0 demolition of lowly Cuba, and Step 2 comes Tuesday evening as the USMNT heads to Toronto to meet Canada at BMO Field, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

[ MORE: An in-depth look at Canada ]

The United States did the job at hand, soundly beating a far inferior opponent, allowing the squad to move forward quickly and emphatically. There is plenty more to prove, but the engine is revved and the gas pedal pressed. Still, Berhalter and company must remember this is a marathon not a sprint, and even the slightest slip in Nations League play will open the floodgates of criticism.

Seeing the bigger picture

The biggest thing for the USMNT to piece together in the Nations League is a sustained run of success that builds not just positive feelings but true momentum born by consistency. It will be fascinating to see the team chosen by Gregg Berhalter as he looks to put together consistent starting lineups that help build not just victories on the scoresheet but also chemistry between players who have a legitimate chance of seeing future lineups in more high leverage matches.

Against Cuba, positive performances can lend themselves to more opportunities down the line, but Berhalter must also be realistic about who has a chance to be contributors not just against the minnows of CONCACAF but also against teams the United States has aspirations of competing with. Against Cuba, Jordan Morris continued his revival as a winger, and he should be given more opportunities to build a relationship with Josh Sargent and Christian Pulisic up front. Jackson Yueill is another player who can earn his way into long-term contention, but it remains true that Michael Bradley is still the team’s best option at holding midfielder and requires minutes with the other consistent starters (although it would be interesting to see if the two can play together coherently). Reggie Cannon played well at right-back but incumbent DeAndre Yedlin deserves the chance to prove he’s still the correct choice after returning from a long injury layoff.

A view towards the future must be in the back of Berhalter’s mind, not just looking to achieve results but also achieve results with the right players. Meshing the correct squad now will unquestionably pay dividends down the road as the United States hopes to turn around recent negative results against teams like Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Italy, and Colombia which fans aspire to be competitive against. With the start of World Cup qualification less than a calendar year away, the time is now to end the wild experimentation and begin dividing up the precious minutes between players who are considered legitimate possibilities for the potential 2022 squad.

18-year-old Alphonso Davies represents a youth movement with the Canadian national team that gives fans hope for the future (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Switching gears to Canada

Canada will no doubt present a tougher test than Cuba, but the United States will still be expected to emerge victorious, and anything less will represent yet another two steps back after one step forward.

The northern neighbors have high aspirations, hoping to challenge for World Cup qualification. Head coach John Herdman said in the run-up to Tuesday’s match that the United States may be a rival, but they’re also “standing in the way” of the ultimate goal, confident speech ahead of such a difficult test. LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye took it a step further, saying his play with the Canadian national team over the next few years “is going to help shape the foundation of how Canada is going to be in the next 10 years.”

Canada has a crop of young talent with Kaye joined by 18-year-old Bayern Munich winger Alphonso Davies and 19-year-old Gent youth product Jonathan David.

Still, they have not defeated the United States in their last 17 tries, dating back to 1985. Their last match was a measly 1-0 victory over the same Cuba squad that was obliterated by the US, forced to play 35 minutes a man down after Vancouver Whitecaps defender Doneil Henry was sent off. Canada still managed to hold a whopping 81% possession in that match, but worked just a single shot on target, which resulted in Davies’ 9th minute opener. They will need to be both more disciplined and more dangerous if they wish to pull off the upset in Toronto.

Projected lineup

— Steffan —

— Yedlin — Long — Ream — Lovitz —

— McKennie — Bradley — Roldan —

— Morris — Sargent — Pulisic —

Brad Guzan started the Cuba match in goal, but Zack Steffan is the true long-term option here and it would be natural to see him return to the lineup against the tougher opponent. Gregg Berhalter loves Aaron Long and his return could also be expected. As stated above, Bradley is a contentious selection among many fans but his presence calms the midfield, and he delivers a long ball forward like nobody else on the roster. The front three played exceptionally well against Cuba and it would be questionable to see anyone but those players start again with Jozy Altidore injured.

Prediction

The United States will no doubt face a tougher challenge, and the young attacking talent will test the in-flux back line. Yedlin at right-back will have the toughest test matching up with Davies defensively which could force him back more than Berhalter wants. It will be imperative for the midfield trio to establish control of the central areas and work forward from there. It can be expected that the United States will control the tempo, and if they stay calm, cool, and collected when Canada counters, they should come away with a nervy 2-1 victory.

Lyon hires Rudi Garcia as new manager

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Olympique Lyonnais has announced they have hired Rudi Garcia as manager, replacing the fired Sylvinho.

Lyon has struggled mightily to start the Ligue 1 season, winning just two of its first nine league games and sitting 14th in the table with nine points. Sylvinho, who was only hired at the end of May, was let go last week.

Garcia has formerly taken charge of Roma, Lille, and St. Etienne, and most recently managed Lyon rivals Marseille for three seasons before departing this summer. He left with Marseille having failed to claim a Champions League place amid the Ligue 1 top three.

“I chose Rudi Garcia because he is a fighter who, like us, has the ambition to win titles and succeed on the European stage,” said Lyon sporting director Juninho. The Brazilian had chosen his countrymate Sylvinho this summer, but made a change just nine matches into the season with the club winning its first two matches of the season and failing to win since. They have lost three of the last four, with all three defeats coming via a 1-0 scoreline. They have scored just five goals in the seven-match winless run, shutout on four different occasions.

The 55-year-old Frenchman will have plenty of proving to do to Lyon fans. Coming straight over from a direct rival, . Fans were outspoken about their cautious feelings, as the introductory tweet was ratio’d by those expressing a distaste for the hire.

“He is an experienced coach who has already won trophies,” added Juninho.“Wherever he has been, he has had above-average performances and has always managed to make the most of what he had at his disposal.”

Garcia’s first match in charge will be a home league match this weekend against Dijon, followed by a Europa League visit to Benfica.