This weekend sees the return of the FA Cup to our screens as the competition enters the Fourth Round stage. There are some notable ties featuring minnows and giants as Manchester United visit Cambridge, Stoke travel to Rochdale and Chelsea take on Bradford.
Dan Walker will no doubt be paid per cliche he uses during the BBC’s FA Cup coverage this weekend, but here are three other things to watch out for!
Long-forgotten cross-division derbies
They share the same county and are only one division apart, but not since 1986 have Derby faced rivals Chesterfield. The Spireites have never beaten the Rams at their place, but the goals of Eoin Doyle could help them spring a surprise on Steve McClaren’s Premier League chasing side.
Similarly, Rochdale will hope their strikeforce of Ian Henderson, Matty Done, Joe Bunney and Calvin Andrew can upset Stoke City in a battle that will encompass the fringe towns of Manchester (kind-of). And finally, there is a Black Country derby between Birmingham and West Brom which will surely be as feisty as a wrestling match between the managers of both teams – Gary Rowett and Tony Pulis. Expect scores to be settled and hopeful fans to be put in their places.
“Our main objective is to focus on the league anyway”
Harry Redknapp has already pulled this one out from up his sleeve, and it won’t be a surprise to see more do so again in the Fourth Round. Managers give it the big one prior to the game, watch their side fail to make a fist of the game (steadily avoiding the dreaded replay!), then take the positive of having less to get excited about.
Fans are sick of this constant desire to avoid relegation than let supporters dream a little, so we’re keeping our eyes on the likes of Alan Pardew, Paul Lambert, Gus Poyet and Nigel Pearson/Mauricio Pochettino, all of whom could do without another round of fatigue and injury.
Poorly made tin foil trophies
We reckon literally less than one minute of the BBC’s coverage of Cambridge v Man United will pass before we see one of these beauties! United fans haven’t seen their side lift the trophy in over 10 years, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of Red Devils dreaming of an LvG FA Cup fairytale.