5 ties to watch in FA Cup fourth round

By Sports Desk January 08, 2024

FA Cup holders Manchester City have been handed a trip to Tottenham in the fourth round.

Elsewhere, sixth-tier Maidstone will head to Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers Ipswich, while Chelsea host Premier League rivals Aston Villa.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five ties to watch.

Tottenham v Manchester City

Holders Manchester City swept past Huddersfield 5-0 on Sunday, when Kevin De Bruyne made a return to action during the second half from a hamstring injury which had kept the Belgian out since August.

Spurs, meanwhile, had booked their place in the fourth round with a 1-0 win over Burnley on Friday night with a fine late goal from Pedro Porro.

Fans will be hoping the FA Cup tie proves as entertaining as when the two sides met in the Premier League in early December at the Etihad Stadium.

Son Heung-min scored at both ends and Dejan Kulusevski struck a late equaliser to earn Spurs a 3-3 draw following a frantic finish – after which Erling Haaland took to social media to complain about referee Simon Hooper for not playing advantage as City broke during the closing moments.

Ipswich v Maidstone

Vanarama National League South side Maidstone, who beat Stevenage 1-0 in the third round on Saturday, are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition.

Ipswich sit second in the Championship table and were 3-1 third-round winners at AFC Wimbledon.

Stones boss George Elokobi helped Wolves get promoted to the Premier League under Mick McCarthy, who enjoyed a reunion with his old defender at the Gallagher Stadium.

With the Tractor Boys on a roll under Kieran McKenna as the Suffolk club seek a long-awaited return to the top flight themselves, Elokobi might just be picking McCarthy’s brains on how to get a result at Portman Road – where the former Republic of Ireland manager spent six seasons in charge.

Blackburn v Wrexham

Wrexham booked their place in the fourth round for the second straight season with a 1-0 win over cross-border derby rivals Shrewsbury.

With Hollywood A-listers following their progress from across the Pond, the now League Two club will be hoping that run can continue when they head to Championship side Blackburn.

Rovers coasted past Cambridge 5-2 after a first career hat-trick for Sammie Szmodics.

Newport or Eastleigh v Manchester United

National League side Eastleigh kept alive their hopes of landing a dream fourth-round tie after a 1-1 draw at Newport to earn a replay.

Chris Maguire hit a late penalty after George Langston had been sent off late in the first half, leaving the Spitfires to battle on with 10 men.

United were confirmed as fourth-round visitors to either Silverlake Stadium or Rodney Parade after they won 2-0 at Wigan on Monday night.

Chelsea v Aston Villa

The Blues swept past Championship side Preston 4-0 on Saturday as Mauricio Pochettino’s side continued their good cup form, having also reached the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, where they will face Middlesbrough.

Villa edged past Boro 1-0 with a late goal from Matty Cash to win a first FA Cup tie since 2016.

Having waited so long to get into the fourth round again, Villa boss Unai Emery might have been hoping to avoid one of their Premier League rivals.

That said, the Spaniard has already masterminded a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in September – and on current league form, with Villa second in the table, he would probably fancy the chances of a repeat.

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  • Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award

    Pep Guardiola thinks Phil Foden can still get better, after the 23-year-old winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

    Foden has been a pivotal part of City’s title challenge this season, scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists in the top-flight in 2023-24.

    It is the youngster’s most prolific scoring season for City, while only six players have bettered Foden’s goal haul in the Premier League.

    When asked about the strides that Foden has made this season, leading him to the award, Guardiola praised the England international’s influence on the squad.

    "Obviously, he makes a step forward as a football player. In terms of minutes or time, but he's decisive in winning games," Guardiola said.

    "Maybe before it was a glimpse of action, but now it's consistent. That is the truth, but they still have a margin. Sometimes his game is overexcited, it's over, and you have to be more calm because his excitement he has for himself, but we'll have question of time, but this season has been really, really important. Really, really important."

    Foden has bettered his tally of 11 goals from last season and leads City’s squad for chances created this campaign with 68.

    "He's moving forward, but I had the feeling he can be better, and I think he can do it because I've said many times, that he loves football," Guardiola added.

    "He enjoys being on the pitch, and I think the feeling doesn't like when you have the day off.

    "He likes to be in the training session doing less or more and I had the feeling it still can be better."

    Manchester City can win a fourth-consecutive Premier League title on Sunday against West Ham, if they can match or better Arsenal's result.

  • Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T

    Despite losing both friendly encounters to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana senior men’s Head coach Jamaal Shabazz says their objectives were met, as the players that made the trip to the twin island republic gained invaluable experience that will assist to shape their future in the sport.

    The Golden Jaguars lost 1-2 and 0-2 to Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors at the Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, but for Shabazz, the fixtures served their purpose of gauging the readiness of players, who competed in recently concluded Round One of the KFC Elite League Season, especially with the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers scheduled to get under way next month.

    “We did not win, but a lot of questions were answered as to who is ready to move into our full international squad. We achieved our other objectives. We got higher level match practice for the likes of Daniel Wilson, Kelsey Benjamin, Curtez Kellman, Colin Nelson and Ryan Hackett, all of whom travel with our first team. We gave valuable exposure to players like Marcus Tudor, Simeon Moore, Chris Macey and Stephen McDonald, just to name a few,” Shabazz shared.

    “It is clear that player for player we were able to match our opponents. Some boys gave a good account of themselves, and some were a bit nervous. Most importantly, the lads would have learnt a few lessons for their future, like the margin for error at international level is small and the need for more composure in front of goal,” he added.

    Aside from those he mentioned, Shabazz also had three overseas-based players from Canada, France and the United States, in his 24-member squad, and by all indications, a few more might be assessed, as the tactician prepares to select his final squad for the qualifiers.

    Guyana will contest Group D of the qualifiers, alongside Panama, Montserrat, Belize and Nicaragua. They are set to open against Panama in Panama City on June 6, followed by the Belize encounter on June 11 in Barbados.

    Shabazz expressed gratitude for the continued support in gifting local-based players the opportunity to showcase their potential, and challenge for spots in the final squad.

    “I must thank the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Football Federation for enabling this exposure for the home-based players. At least twice a year we should get these types of matches for home-based players to develop,” Shabazz noted.

  • Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City

    Pep Guardiola believes that other clubs do have the chance to win the Premier League while he is the Manchester City manager. 

    Guardiola has led the Citizens to five top-flight titles in his seven seasons in charge, including each of the last three in a row.

    They have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League campaign – they must match or better Arsenal’s result on the final day against West Ham to finish top of the table.

    Asked what he thought about the narrative that suggested other teams struggle to win the title while he is at City, Guardiola immediately brushed the idea aside.

    He said: "It is wrong, look at the margin. If every season I won by 20 points, then I would say yes I am a genius, I'm so good, but it's not.

    "The Premier League we won against Liverpool they could have won. Arsenal can win, we can win. It's like that.

    "My judgement about the team, about how we behave, nothing changed, nothing changed. My opinion of Liverpool this year has not changed, whether they have won or not won.

    "I know here there is just a prize for the winners and the winners smell good and everyone won a copy and everything, but it's not.

    "It's not the case because behind of arriving here in the last press conference of the season before the last game of the Premier League there are a lot of work, like Liverpool was and Arsenal have been this season."

    Guardiola was also quick to highlight the hard work of everybody at the club during their title challenge.

    "It's not because of what we have done in the past gives you this season, it's completely the opposite," he continued. 

    "There are a lot of work for all departments. How many my backroom staff, the medical department, the physio department, how they care all the seasons, every single few, few injuries.

    "Injuries are always there, but the balance is ridiculous, how good it is, and that's because there is a lot of work, they care about the players and the people, you know, every single day, hours and hours being above the players, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this to be fit. So otherwise, we cannot be where we are."

    The City manager was also asked about his future at the club, and whether he would be continuing past the end of the season.

    "Yeah, I have a contract. I want to be here next season, yes," he added. 

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