The draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup was ripe with potential for some exciting matches. Here TEAMtalk picks out six potential classics – and possible giantkillings.
Although some of the ties are dependent on the outcome of replays, it is certainly possible to see where some of the bigger clubs could come a cropper at the hands of lower-league opposition.
Here, TEAMtalk identifies six ties those keen to witness a giant-killing should watch.
DERBY v MANCHESTER UNITED
A tie that simply screams live TV coverage, Manchester United could easily come a cropper in a match already branded the ‘Steve McClaren derby’.
United were fortunate to go through against Sheffield United at the weekend thanks to a last-gasp Wayne Rooney penalty – but Derby away at a packed iPro Stadium will be a different matter altogether – and Louis van Gaal will have his work cut out to ensure United are in the hat for the fifth round.
The Rams are flying high at the top of the Championship, and although Paul Clement will want to ensure the match doesn’t distract from their main aim of promotion, the match will surely be one that everyone associated with the club is already licking their lips at.
CARLISLE or YEOVIL v EVERTON
On the surface Everton fans will be happy with what looks like a plum draw, but both of their potential Sky Bet League Two hosts have points to prove.
The Cumbrians remain homeless after Storm Desmond flooded Brunton Park in December and victory over the Toffees would give Keith Curle’s men plenty of reason to be cheerful. They also took Liverpool to penalties in the League Cup.
Yeovil, meanwhile, are second-bottom of the Football League but displayed their FA Cup credentials when restricting Manchester United to a hard-fought 2-0 win at Huish Park last season.
NORTHAMPTON or MK DONS v CHELSEA
Chelsea have enough to worry about in the Premier League and it may be they have to sacrifice a cup run to achieve their aim of rescuing a top-four place – although Guus Hiddink has outlined a desire to win the trophy for a second time.
One team who will happily oblige in removing them from the FA Cup will be League Two promotion hopefuls Northampton, who have scored 42 goals while losing only three times at Sixfields this term.
Championship outfit MK Dons would be more accomplished opponents for Chelsea and their 4-0 Capital One Cup demolition of Manchester United in August 2014 will not have escaped the Blues’ attention.
COLCHESTER v TOTTENHAM or LEICESTER
The Weston Homes Community Stadium will play host to a top-flight team at the end of the month, that much is certain, but Colchester will have to raise their game significantly to shock their way into the fifth round.
It could be argued that Tottenham and Leicester pose a similar threat. Both clubs boast an in-form England striker in Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy respectively and both are busy battling for a coveted Champions League berth – whoever progresses may find exhaustion catching up with them.
History tells us that Spurs have a better record in the FA Cup – but they were eliminated by Leicester last year.
EXETER or LIVERPOOL v WEST HAM
Exeter already pulled off one of the surprise results of this year’s competition by holding Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at St James Park in the third round.
Conquering the Reds in the Anfield replay would be an enormous feat in itself – could the Grecians go one better and see off West Ham?
The Hammers have not travelled well in recent years. They were thrashed 4-0 at West Brom last year, slunk out of the previous year’s tournament at the earliest opportunity when they lost 5-0 at Nottingham Forest and bowed out on the back of a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford in 2013.
EASTLEIGH or BOLTON v LEEDS
Granted, Leeds are not the carrot they once were, but Eastleigh would relish the chance to play the 1972 champions, let alone beat them.
Bolton’s progression is not assured as the Trotters are battling a financial collapse while striving to keep enough players on board to remain in the Championship.
Should Vanarama National League side Eastleigh get the better of Neil Lennon’s men, Ten Acres could well become the scene of a classic FA Cup upset if Leeds do not arrive on the south coast fully focused.