Saturday, January 27, 2007

Another Saturday And Sweet FA

Well, the FA Cup Fourth Round kicks off in half an hour or so, with Luton Town playing Blackburn Rovers at Kenilworth Road. It's probably too much to ask for Luton to repeat the entertainment that they gave us last year, when they raced into a two goal lead against Liverpool in the Third Round. It was one of the great games of any tournament over the last ten years or so. Meanwhile, Blackburn's 4-1 win at Everton in the last round received nowhere near the attention that it deserved. They'll have one eye on the FA Cup this season with a view to going all the way in it. Luton are in free-fall in the League, and are heading towards a long, difficult spring. Having said that, though, they have one thing on their side - Kenilworth Road itself. If there's one ground that no top division player would want to visit, it's the cramped and noisy Kenilworth Road - one of the last few remaining old-style football grounds.

Elsewhere, Chelsea will surely have too much for Nottingham Forest, though Forest supporters can at least spend the afternoon lording it over Chelsea. The scoreline remains 2-0 to Forest in terms of European Cups, and I can't see them letting Roman Abramovich forget that this afternoon. Arsenal could well come unstuck against Bolton tomorrow - Sam Allardyce has built the prototype of a team that will always give them problems, and there is the distinct possibility that this could continue tomorrow. Manchester United entertain Portsmouth, at a fortunate time. Portsmouth's form has dipped of late, though, as I've said before on here, they have bags of big match experience and arguably could make them at least break into a sweat.

The match that the BBC should have been showing this weekend in the Black Country derby between Wolves and West Bromwich Albion at Molineux. Of course, the BBC and Sky Sports don't have an enormous interest in anything that doesn't involve (yawn) the Premiership, but this battle for local bragging rights between two moth-eaten former giants promises to be a fairly combustible affair. With WBA struggling to make the leap back into the Premiership and Wolves continuing their long tradition of being Championship under-achievers, it should be an interesting affair.

There aren't any other matches which really stand out, to be honest. Spurs are at home against Southend, a match which can surely only go one way. West Ham and Watford have an opportunity to forget their league woes for a couple of hours when they meet at Upton Park this afternoon. What price Watford to spring a minor upset there this afternoon? The likely upsets in this round have something of a, well, lateral feel to them. I wouldn't want to be a Plymouth Argyle player this afternoon, they have a trip to the formidable slope at Underhill, the home of Barnet. Fulham, freshly bereft of Luis Boa Morte, are plenty capable of losing at home to Stoke City and Southampton have been in decent form this season - they could prove to be tricky opponents for Manchester City.


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