Give a break to Chelsea’s surge at the top of the league, the boisterous Champions League battle between handful of clubs and the petrifying bottom of the table encounters. This weekend is all about the oldest association football competition in the world, the FA Cup which was founded back in 1871. After couple of big guns stuttered in the previous round, the fifth-round clash will feature favourites-labelled Manchester United, holders Arsenal and Liverpool, alongside many fiery underdogs. Looking at the previous results, the underdogs seem to be fairly prepared, only for the top teams losing their focus or perhaps just underestimating their capability.
Crystal Palace VS Liverpool
It’s all out Premier League clash! Both teams are on morale-boosting form, pursuing their quest in the league. Alan Pardew has brought the much needed air of calmness at Selhurst Park, as The Eagles have just lost one out of seven matches from the day the former Newcastle United boss took charge. A fabulous run that has seen them climb to 13th in the league plus five points clear of the drop zone. On the other hand, the visitors had to battle Bolton twice to reach this round, two late goals in the closing stages of the second leg match sealed the victory. The Reds have lost grip of the Premier League title at Selhust Park last season, where the home side battled back for a 3-3 draw. Moreover, Brendan Rodgers need to excel in the cup progress as his side is still among the contenders for the top four plus nowhere near the title challenge. The Merseyside team has been hit with several key injuries, skipper Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva is out for couple of weeks and dream team star, Raheem Sterling is doubtful. Wonder-kid winger, Jordon Ibe is cup-tied having played for Derby Country in the competition earlier.
Arsenal VS Middlesbrough
The Gunners sealed a narrow victory in the previous round to reach the next phase, where they battle the might Middlesbrough. The holders will be eyeing to move to the last eight, having the home ground advantage. However, Boro crafted their own miracles against Manchester City for a remarkable 2-0 victory, hence will be gearing forward to play at The Emirates. Additionally, the visitors come to the tie on the track of five successive league wins. Exciting news for Arsenal fans are they might be seeing their January addition, Gabriel Paulista making debut, moreover Wojciech Szczesny will return to goal. The Poland international needs to make full use of it as Ospina is on thriving form, already bagging three clean sheets in a short spell. Theo Walcott who scored a spectacular goal last weekend in the premier league is expected to be given more playing time, to return to his full fitness. The Gunners are on series of fine form with improved performances from Mesut Ozil which would be crucial on Sunday. Can Boro once again remain vigorous at the back and pounce in the counter attack play?