The FA Cup fifth round takes centre stage this coming weekend, and the English Premier League’s gameweek 26 is on hold. The FA Cup will see the final 16 teams battle it out for a shot at the elite eight as we get closer to the tournament’s climax.
Eight of the last 16 teams are Premier League sides and fortunately – or unfortunately – the top-flight clubs have been kept apart. Five of the Premier League sides that remain in the FA Cup are in the top six. Meanwhile, Leicester City and Middlesbrough have a relegation scrap on their hands.
Arguably, the biggest match of the FA Cup fifth round is the tie between giant killers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Premier League leaders Chelsea. Wolves have struggled mightily in the English Championship this season and sit only six points above Blackburn in the relegation zone.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Wigan, Wolves have lost three of their last four Championship matches. Although the team did defeat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.
The last time these two sides met was way back in 2012 in the League Cup. Wolves were thrashed on the day 6-0, but the team’s playing staff is much different; and will have little memory – if any – of the fixture.
Promotion chasers Huddersfield will do battle with the Premier League’s second place team Manchester City. The fixture between the two sides will take place exactly 17 years since their last meeting. How things have changed for both clubs as that match took place in the English Championship.
With Huddersfield in a promotion playoff position, much of their energy will be put into keeping hold of it. However, with the fixture taking place at the John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield should come out revved up.
City have Chelsea within their sights and are only eight points back of the league leaders. Could the FA Cup be on the back burner for the Blues? The Manchester derby highlights gameweek 26, so Pep Guardiola’s side’s eyes could be wandering during FA Cup weekend.
Relegation threatened sides
Two sides in the FA Cup fifth round are relegation threatened. Middlesbrough and Leicester City are all in danger of being demoted from the Premier League.
Leicester are the biggest shock to most as the Foxes are reigning Premier League champions. The team have struggled all league season despite still being alive in both the FA Cup and Champions League.
Leicester have lost five straight Premier League matches and have failed to score in their last six games. The team have shown very little in the way of the smooth counterattacking football from a year ago. Leicester could become the first Premier League team to be relegated after winning the league title.
Four of the remaining 16 teams in the FA Cup come from League One or lower. Millwall and Oxford City both play in the third division of English football. Millwall currently sit sixth in the league and have the promotion playoffs in sight.
Lincoln City are top of the National League and the club have a great opportunity to reach the last eight of the FA Cup. The Imps take on Burnley at Turf Moor. Burnley drew with Chelsea at the weekend and will be a tough, but not unbeatable, opponent for Lincoln City.
Sutton United FC will welcome one of the biggest clubs in European football to their little Gardner Green Lane stadium. The stadium holds a mere 5,000 fans. The intimate atmosphere will be far different than the Gunners are used to at the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium.
The FA Cup fifth
Saturday February 18, 2017
Burnley vs. Lincoln City
Millwall vs. Leicester
Middlesbrough vs. Oxford
Huddersfield vs. Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea
Sunday February 19, 2017
Fulham vs. Tottenham
Blackburn vs. Manchester United
Monday February 20, 2017
Sutton United vs. Arsenal