As the competition progresses a smaller proportion of the ties in the FA Cup start at the traditional time of 3pm on Saturday. There are 16 matches in the fourth round and only nine kick-off at that time so seven meetings have been rearranged, mainly for live TV coverage. He who pays the piper calls the tune and Manchester United can afford to pay Alexis Sanchez all that money because of the deals with the TV companies.
Sanchez is possibly now the highest paid player in the Premier League and one of the most rewarded in the global game. He could be getting changed in the smallest away dressing room in League 2 if he is selected to play for United at Yeovil in the Cup on Friday night. It’s what the traditionalists would call the romance and magic of the most famous domestic competition in the world. Sanchez is 4/1 to score the first goal.
Despite a blip against Liverpool, Manchester City will win the Premier League and the quadruple is still on. They were much too good for Bristol City in the semi-finals and now meet Arsenal in the final of the EFL Cup. City play at Cardiff on Saturday and should progress. When Cardiff won the Cup in 1927 it was the first and still only time that the winners of the English FA Cup were from Wales. History is unlikely to repeat itself this time even though Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are in the fourth round. Tottenham look one of the away bankers at Newport.
West Brom would probably swap 10 FA Cups for survival in the Premier League. They are in the mire and the second shortest priced team to drop into the Championship after Swansea. They face the Jekyll and Hyde team in Liverpool at Anfield and nobody knows which version will turn up. Liverpool beat the top team in the league in City and then lost to the bottom team in Swansea in their next match. Apparently that has only happened three times ever in the top division. Team selection will be key but the Liverpool reserves should beat the West Brom reserves.
Leicester will almost certainly never win the Premier League again but a good number of players who were in the title winning side still play for the club. One of the superpowers of English football wins the FA Cup but Leicester could break that stranglehold this year. They are away at Peterborough in the lunch time fixture on Saturday and the Foxes can qualify for the next round and go all the way and even win the Cup. In Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez they have two proven international players who are in a different class to any players that Peterborough can select.
Chelsea should have no trouble in seeing off Newcastle at Stamford Bridge. The Geordies have the nucleus of the team that got the club out of the Championship last season which means they are unfit for purpose at this level. Rafa Benitez has been promised money but the ongoing issue of the sale of the club is hardly conducive to producing the goods on the pitch. It’s a long journey from London to the north east on a Sunday so it could be grim if Newcastle take a drubbing at Chelsea.
Fourteen teams from the Premier League are playing in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Only three ties are all top flight meetings which means 11 of the last 16 could play in the highest tier of English football. Most Premier League clubs will progress including Leicester who are the tip to win the 2017/18 FA Cup.