The FA Cup resumes this weekend with eight fifth-round ties as the remaining clubs battle for a place in the quarter-finals.
Reigning holders Chelsea are still in it, facing in-form Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Monday, and Premier League champions Manchester City will be hoping to avoid what would be an all-time great ‘giant killing’ against League Two’s Newport County.
Here, we break down the four best ties of the FA Cup fifth round.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Derby County
Fourteenth in the Premier League at present and just three points ahead of the relegation places, Brighton boss Chris Hughton will once again have top-flight survival as his primary aim this season.
But it is admirable that, while many sides around them have limped out of the competition, Brighton have taken the – albeit faint – prospect of a first ever FA Cup triumph seriously enough to be within touching distance of the last eight.
Standing in the Seagulls’ way is Frank Lampard’s Derby. The Rams themselves are spinning multiple plates this season, battling to break into the play-offs and earn promotion to the Premier League – they currently sit just one point outside the play-off places in seventh.
But Derby have already impressively taken Premier League scalps in the cups, eliminating Manchester United from the Carabao Cup via penalties in September and dumping Southampton out of the FA Cup after replay in the fourth round.
Unbeaten in their last five games and with on-loan Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson one of the Championship’s breakout stars this season, Derby will be hopeful of upsetting the odds once again at the AmEx on Saturday.
Newport County vs Manchester City
The underdog story of this season’s FA Cup so far, Newport County – who sit a lowly 15th in the fourth tier – overcame Leicester City in the third round and knocked Championship side Middlesbrough out after a replay in the fourth round.
They have their work cut out if they hope to make it any further, though, with Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions the next visitors to Rodney Parade.
Newport manager Mike Flynn will be hoping the pitch and the intimate, 7,850-capacity stadium will be a leveler against City. But Guardiola’s quadruple chasers showed how ruthless they can be against lower-ranking opposition when they thrashed Burton Albion of the Championship 9-0 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
Any upset will require all of the FA Cup’s magic.
Bristol City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
It might not be the headline tie of the round but Bristol City hosting Wolves at Ashton Gate might just be the most intriguing.
The fixture pits the Championship’s form team against one of the most impressive Premier League newcomers of recent years.
Bristol City are riding a remarkable run of nine straight victories and haven’t tasted defeat in any competition since November. Lee Johnson’s men currently sit fifth in the Championship but, just five points behind second-placed Leeds United, they could yet make a push for automatic promotion.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, last year’s Championship winners, currently occupy the Premier League’s “best of the rest” position, sitting in seventh, behind the established “Big Six”.
And the Black Country side knocked Liverpool out of the Cup in the third round, although they did need a replay to edge past League One’s Shrewsbury Town last time out.
Bryan Robson And Frank Sinclair Preview Chelsea v United
Chelsea vs Manchester United
The standout all-Premier League tie of the round sees Chelsea welcome Manchester United to west London in a rerun of last season’s final.
The Blues came out on top in last year’s Wembley showpiece but United are the form team heading into this one.
The Red Devils’ midweek Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain was their first reverse in 12 games under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the 20-time champions leapfrogged the Blues into fourth place in the Premier League last weekend.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were embarrassingly thrashed 6-0 by champions Manchester City at the Etihad, their second big-score defeat in three games, having recently lost 4-0 to Bournemouth.
Maurizio Sarri will be hoping for a morale-boosting – and potentially job-saving – win at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, which would take him to within three wins of securing the first major trophy of his managerial career.
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