Chelsea banking on FA Cup to salvage pride

Diego Costa (Matt Dunham/AP)

The fourth round of the FA Cup begins on Friday, with Championship side Derby County hosting Manchester United.

Other lower-league sides such as MK Dons, Burnley, and Colchester United will also be facing Premier League opposition in what promises to be a dramatic round of games.


FA CUP ON SPORTSNET: Watch eight FA Cup matches this week live on Sportsnet, starting on Friday afternoon. To consult the broadcast schedule, CLICK HERE


Here are the five matches to watch this weekend in the FA Cup.

Derby County vs. Manchester United
Derby County appears to be a massive underdog against Premier League giants Manchester United, but the Championship side may have a legitimate chance in Friday’s contest.

Derby has struggled recently, failing to win none of its last five league games. However, United barely squeaked past third-tier Sheffield United at home in the last round. The Rams have to feel good about their chances based on that fact alone.

Midfielder Will Hughes and defenders Craig Forsyth and Jake Buxton will be absent for the hostst, but Derby’s injury situation is more positive than United’s. Five players are ruled out for the visitors, including fullback Matteo Darmian. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Phil Jones may be available, although Jones’ fitness is still a concern.

The last time these teams met was in the FA Cup back in 2009. United won 4-1 at Derby that day. Given the goal-scoring woes of Louis van Gaal’s side, it’s unlikely that the Red Devils will match that output from seven years ago.

Colchester vs. Tottenham
Third-tier Colchester United overcame Charlton Athletic to progress to the fourth round. The League One side will have a tough task as it faces Tottenham at home on Saturday.

Colchester has won five of its last six matches in the FA Cup, and Spurs may field a slightly weaker lineup given the team’s injury problems.

Central defender Jan Vertonghen suffered a knee injury at Crystal Palace in Spurs’ last game. Kevin Wimmer is expected to deputize in defence for the Belgian. Both Alex Pritchard and Ryan Mason are doubtful, but will be assessed closer to the game.

Colchester has a clean bill of health, which means it can field its strongest starting XI.

Despite the hosts’ recent success in the FA Cup, they’ve been poor in the league. Colchester has won just three of its last 17 competitive matches. With morale high, Tottenham should be able to advance to the fifth round.


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Arsenal vs. Burnley
Burnley has been flying high in the Championship this season. Manager Sean Dyche’s side is in third place and has scored 46 goals, more than any other team in the league.

The Clarets will battle Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The Gunners have won five games in a row against Burnley in the FA Cup, scoring 16 goals and conceding just once in that span.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that midfielder Francis Coquelin will be available for the game, which would be a huge boost for the club. Only Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are ruled out through injury.

Seeing as how Burnley will be focused on gaining promotion to the Premier League, Dyche may opt to rest a few players. However, in a game of this magnitude, it would be nice for the fans to see their team go for it.

Liverpool vs. West Ham United
Liverpool vs. West Ham at Anfield on Saturday is one of just four games that pits Premier League teams against one other.

This particular match is enticing based on the teams’ recent history. West Ham has won three of its last four games against Liverpool, including a 3-0 win over the Reds at Anfield on Aug. 28.

The difference between then and now is Jurgen Klopp. The German was not in charge of Liverpool in that game, although he was on the touchline when the Hammers won 2-0 in London back on Jan. 2.

Another factor is the growing injury list at Liverpool. Seven players are ruled for Saturday, including Philippe Coutinho, Martin Skrtel, Divock Origi, and Daniel Sturridge.

West Ham will be without three crucial players: midfielder Manuel Lanzini, and forwards Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll. Victor Moses is available, so he’ll be a boost for the attack.

MK Dons vs. Chelsea
Chelsea’s form in the Premier League has been disappointing, but they can make up for it with a run in the FA Cup.

The Blues will travel to MK Dons for their fourth-round match on Sunday. Chelsea has coasted in the FA Cup up to this point, but the second-tier side have lost just two of their last six competitive games. However, the Premier League holders are unbeaten in eight matches under Guus Hiddink.

Both sides only have one injured player, meaning the managers can field a full-strength lineup.

These teams have only played twice, although the last meeting was 16 years ago. The Dons could prove to be a handful for Chelsea, especially with the home crowd supporting them.



WATCH FA CUP ON SPORTSNET
Friday, January 29, 2015
• Derby Country vs. Manchester United, 2:55 pm ET (Sportsnet World)

Saturday, January 30, 2015
• Colchester United vs. Tottenham, 7:45 am ET (Sportsnet World)
• Arsenal vs. Burnley, 10:00 am ET (Sportsnet World)
• Nottingham Forrest vs. Watford, 10:00 am ET (online at Sportsnet World NOW)
• Portsmouth vs. Bournemouth, 10:00 am ET (online at Sportsnet World NOW)
• Liverpool vs. West Ham United, 12:30 pm ET (Sportsnet World)

Saturday, January 30, 2015
• Carlisle United vs. Everton, 8:00 am ET (Sportsnet World)
• MK Dons vs. Chelsea, 11:00 am ET (Sportsnet World)