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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.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE