Top 3 FA Cup matches to look out for
Top 3 FA Cup games to look out for this weekend…
Accrington Stanley vs Derby County (12:30pm)
The early kick-off on Saturday sees Frank Lampard’s Derby rock up to the North West to face League One side Accrington Stanley. County were in the news this week after they announced the signing of 38-year-old Ashley Cole until the end of the season, but he’s unavailable this weekend.
Following last year’s promotion to League One, Stanley are a team on the up. The gulf in class between the two clubs is still evident here though. Frank Lampard has more backroom staff at Derby than there are available seats in the away dugout so it’ll feel claustrophobic for the away side, both on and off the pitch. Lampard won four FA Cups during his career, and he’ll look to share the experiences of the road to Wembley with his players.
Both clubs have a strong sense of identity and try to play in the right way (just ask Marcelo Bielsa). Stanley boss John Coleman this week announced he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if his team beat Derby County on Saturday. It’s a fascinating encounter – expect an evenly-matched old-fashioned cup tie at the Crown Ground on Saturday lunchtime.
Middlesbrough vs Newport County (3pm)
Middlesbrough are winners of the ‘Strangest Transfer of the Window So Far’ award after they announced the loan signing of John Obi Mikel from Tianjin Teda until the end of the season.
Tony Pulis’s side look to continue an impressive run of form – they are unbeaten since the turn of the year, and their run has included a 5-0 washing of Peterborough in the previous round of the FA Cup. Boro sit fifth in the Championship and promotion to the Premier League is very much their priority. Although Pulis has a clear opportunity here to make a mark on the competition against the team from the town in which he was born.
Newport’s season, on the other hand, has been nondescript, with promotion and relegation looking equally unlikely. Fresh from their giant-killing exploits over Leicester City in the third round, County will be fearless about the prospect of a trip to the Riverside.
Millwall vs Everton (5:30pm)
The Tim Cahill Derby. In fact the Australian was playing for the Toffees the last time the two sides met, a hard fought 1-1 draw in 2006.
The Everton team that day also featured Phil Neville, David Weir and Duncan Ferguson. Everton have a softer core than in previous seasons, and an away trip to The Den is not the ideal match when you’re struggling for form. Toffees’ fans will no doubt see this as their best chance of glory this season so expect Marco Silva to name a strong line-up.
Luckily for the visitors, Millwall may have one eye on the Championship relegation battle, with the club very much looking down in the table rather than up. That said, the Lions have strong form against Premier League opposition in the FA Cup; Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester have all surrendered in recent years.
Expect a blood-and-thunder FA Cup tie in the evening kick off.