FA Cup Fourth Round Preview

Here we are at Fourth Round weekend with more than half of the clubs in the Championship having been eliminated and  only one guaranteed place in the Fifth Round.  I’d expect MK Dons to be hammered by Chelsea, but I’ve selected three games that will be under the radar over the next couple of days – I’ll also be taking a look at the games between Championship and League One sides at Buzzin’ League One Football, so if you’re a fan of Hull, Sheffield Wednesday or Reading head over there.

All games below are scheduled for 3:00pm kick offs tomorrow.

Bolton v Leeds

Something of a must win for Bolton, who could do with the cash a Fifth Round tie would bring but who haven’t got past this stage since 2012. The problem is that since the World War II they’ve played Leeds twice at home in the FA Cup and lost both games and they’ve also not beaten Leeds at home in any competition since May 2004 (four games since). Leeds haven’t reached the 5th round since 2013 and have lost their last three away ties without scoring a goal, including a 1-0 defeat at Rochdale two years ago.

Nottingham Forest v Watford

Here’s a nice stat to impress your friends. Forest have only hosted Watford twice in the competition, but that was in the first season after World War II when there was no league structure and ties were played over two legs – and in this case, a replay. Forest failed to win either game back then and have been poor against the Hornets recently (three league wins in the last ten games at the City Ground), but Dougie Freedman’s side haven’t lost at home since the start of October. Watford haven’t won an away FA Cup tie since a victory at Plymouth nine years ago nor won a Premier League away game since mid December: it was a decade since the Hornets reached the semis but – like Forest – have only reached the fifth round once in the last ten years.

Reading v Walsall

The Mad House may be where an upset occurs this weekend, although in the three previous FA Cup ties between them the home team has yet to lose and Reading have a good recent record in the FA Cup in home games against teams in divisions below them. The Royals reached the semi finals of the competition last year and although they’re a better team than last season, their recent home form has been inconsistent. For further information go to Buzzin’ League One Football.

The only televised games involving Championship sides are Derby v Manchester United (tonight, BBC1, 7:55pm kick off) and MK Dons v Chelsea (Sunday, BBC1, 4:00pm) but although the ‘national’ angle is how bad Manchester United have been under Louis Van Gaal, almost nobody seems to have mentioned how Derby haven’t won in the Championship since Boxing Day and were beaten 4-1 by Burnley on Monday night.

As if all this FA Cup Action wasn’t enough, there’s a very important game at the bottom of the table tomorrow when Charlton face Rotherham. The Millers’ mini revival at home came badly unstuck when they were beaten by QPR a fortnight ago but nonetheless Rotherham have won four of their last six home games without conceding a goal and Jordan Clarke-Harris, Joe Newell and Daniel Ward all scoring three apiece in that run. In ten games Charlton have won just three points on the road since the end of September and have conceded an average of almost four goals a game over their last five away trips. This looks extremely one sided to me – especially as Charlton haven’t won at Rotherham since April 1963.

I’ll provide updates over the weekend.

Update: Blackburn, Hull, Leeds and Reading are all through after winning on Saturday. They’ll play Liverpool or West Ham, Arsenal (again), Watford and WBA/Peterborough respectively.

Author: Mike Roberts

A football fan since the 1970s, I take my inspiration from the standard of writing that made Shoot! magazine streets ahead of anything else back in the day. I'm also a complete and utter stathead, which I blame on being exposed to American sports at the end of my teens.