It’s the fifth round of the FA Cup this weekend, and of the sixteen teams remaining, two are non-league clubs. The National League’s Sutton United and Lincoln City beat Leeds and Brighton respectively in the last round, and find themselves just 90 minutes away from a quarter final place in the famous competition.
Sutton welcome Arsenal to their Gander Green ground on Monday night, looking to cause an upset with the Gunners still reeling from that Champions League humiliation at Bayern Munich. Lincoln City’s tie against Burnley may be slightly less glamorous, but the Clarets are a Premier League side nonetheless. The Imps are flying high at the top of the National League, and having won 16 of their last 20 matches, will believe they can pull off another giant-killing. However, they travel to a Burnley side which has won seven of the last eight at home, and most recently held league leaders Chelsea to a 1-1 draw. Sean Dyche has led his team to 12th place in the Premier League, ten points clear of relegation, and he doesn’t have another fixture until next Saturday. That presents Burnley with an opportunity to have a crack at the FA Cup, and a quarter final berth is a powerful incentive.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea are also in action on Saturday, with the former travelling to unlikely Championship promotion contenders Huddersfield, and the latter visiting a struggling Wolves side. Pep Guardiola has a last 16 Champions League tie against Monaco to prepare for just three days after this game, so it would be no great surprise to see something of a fringe City team. Huddersfield are just five points off the top of the Championship, and while they also have an important match on Tuesday night, they can approach this one like the glamour tie that it is.
Wolves are in a much more precarious position, some six points ahead of the bottom three, and they welcome a Chelsea side that has no such midweek fixture concerns. With no European football and an eight point lead at the top of the Premier League, a domestic double must have crossed the mind of the Blues’ new Italian coach Antonio Conte. It would be some achievement in his first season in English football. Chelsea have no game until they host Swansea at Stamford Bridge next Saturday, so they can afford to pull out the big guns to scare off the Wolves.
Burnley v Lincoln
Lincoln’s FA Cup dreams look like coming to an end at Saturday lunchtime, and Burnley are fancied to outclass them and beat a -1.5 asian handicap at -109 with 188Bet.
Burnley’s recent run at Turf Moor has been superb. They’ve beaten the likes of Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Leicester and Southampton without conceding a goal, and dispatched Championship Bristol City 2-0 in the last round of this competition. They are also one of the few teams to take points from Chelsea this season, and were largely applauded for the performance in the 1-1 draw with the champions elect.
Lincoln also have a fine recent record as they chase promotion back to the football league. Eight wins in the last ten matches have helped them to the top of the National League, and this cup run has been a huge financial and confidence booster. The Imps have beaten progressively better sides on this adventure, laying waste to Oldham, Ipswich and Brighton, but Burnley may just be a step too far.
Huddersfield v Manchester City
A potential City second-string is still capable of winning at Huddersfield, but they will have to work very hard to do so. William Hill and Betfred are offering odds of +200 about the Citizens winning with both teams on the scoresheet, and that looks an attractive proposition.
Huddersfield have scored in all but one of their last 18 games, and have won the last six in a row. Obviously they don’t play sides of Man City’s quality each week, but it’s a superb record nonetheless which has helped them to challenge for promotion. With Pep Guardiola liable to rest players Huddersfield will fancy their chances of finding the net and possibly causing an upset.
For the City manager this cup represents a very good opportunity to earn some silverware in his first season, and while the Champions League match in midweek will take priority, he won’t want to bow out here. Thankfully his team have looked somewhere near their best again in recent weeks – winning the last four in a row – and they’ve also won four of the last five on the road.
Wolves v Chelsea
Wolves have lost their last three in a row to Burton, Newcastle and Wigan, and surprisingly have lost seven of the last ten on home soil. That’s no kind of record when you’re welcoming one of the best attacks in the land. Wanderers are a mere six points clear of the bottom three and will probably be left to concentrate on that predicament after Saturday’s game.
Chelsea have beaten the -1.5 handicap regularly this season – seven times in their last ten matches – and Wolves are a level below the usual opposition. As stated, the Blues do not have a game until next weekend when they resume the Premier League programme, and that might spell trouble for Wolves supporters.
Burnley -1.5 to beat Lincoln
Saturday 18th February, 12:30 GMT
Manchester City to win & both teams to score
Saturday 18th February, 15:00 GMT
Chelsea -1.5 to beat Wolves
Saturday 18th February, 17:30 GMT