Good morning and welcome to Sunday. There are two games today involving Premier League teams in the fourth round of the FA Cup, so we’re going to have a quick look at both. First up is Crystal Palace vs Tottenham at Selhurst Park, which kicks off at 4pm, followed by Chelsea vs Sheffield Wednesday, which is at 6pm.
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham
This one could be a good game. It remains to be seen how seriously Roy Hodgson and Mauricio Pochettino take this one.
Hodgson was out saying that Palace are unlikely to win the cup, and it sounds like he’s more focused on keeping the Eagles in the Premier League. They’re currently just three points clear of the relegation zone, and face a trip to fellow strugglers Southampton on Wednesday night, so he may rest up for that one.
Pochettino is focused on making sure Spurs finish in the top four, as he tries to manage his injury-depleted squad. They’re seven points clear of rivals Arsenal, who are fifth. Tottenham host Watford on Wednesday night.
It wouldn’t be surprising if they both rested a few of their key players. Palace won’t win the FA Cup, and going out wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, at the same time, everybody loves a good cup run and the Palace fans need some joy. But it’s a different story for Tottenham. They’re absolutely desperate to win something, as they haven’t exactly been spoiled with success in recent years. They’re going to be alright in the race for the top four, as that seven-point cushion over Arsenal should be enough.
Tottenham won’t win the league, and it’s very unlikely that they’ll win the Champions League. They went out of the Carabao Cup on Thursday night. The FA Cup is a real chance of some silverware, and they have to go for it.
If both managers decide to put strong teams out, this could be a very good game. Selhurst Park can be a difficult place to go, even if they haven’t made it much of a fortress this season. It’s a game that really could go either way, especially with Tottenham being without so many key players. They should have enough about them to get the job done, but it could be a tight one.
Chelsea vs Sheffield Wednesday
Chelsea should win this one fairly comfortably. Maurizio Sarri may rotate a bit, but he’ll go for plenty of quality today. Gonzalo Higuain will make his debut after signing on loan from Juventus, and it’ll be interesting to see how he does.
This is a game that Callum Hudson-Odoi would have played in, but news that came out last night may mean that he doesn’t. Reports say that he has handed in a transfer request and wants to join Bayern Munich before Thursday’s deadline. It’s a big blow for Chelsea, as he’s seen as their most promising young player. Can you blame him for wanting to leave? Seeing the ineffective Willian being picked ahead of him week after week must be very disheartening. He wants more first-team opportunities, and Sarri should have given them to him. It now looks as though they’ll lose him.
They don’t have to sell him, of course, and could hold onto him and hope he’ll sign a new contract. His contract isn’t up until the end of next season, but his value will decrease the longer they leave it. And if Sarri isn’t going to start playing him more regularly, they may as well let him go now. It’ll be interesting to see how this one goes. I may look at this one tomorrow in the blog.
But, back to the game. Anything other than a comfortable Chelsea win would be surprising. Even if Sarri rotates, they should have more than enough quality to beat a team that is 17th in the Championship. But they can’t get complacent and think they have the game won before it even kicks off, because they could be in for a shock if they do.
Anyway, that’s that for this morning. I hope you have a good Sunday. Drop back in tomorrow morning for another blog. And if you’re looking for more to read, check out this week’s in-depth article, that looks at the history of the Brighton/Crystal Palace rivalry.