This weekend’s FA Cup thrills and spills will be a thing of the past come 7pm on Saturday, when the action returns to the domestic battleground, the Premier League. With Europa League action being the only major exception, the Premier League is the decider for much of the FA Cup action this year. The fixture congestion in October should serve as a useful reminder that, when the league is done, the FA Cup remains an option for many of England’s players.
Newcastle United: Premier League v. West Bromwich Albion
Nigeria captain Victor Moses is a key member of the current Chelsea squad but this weekend’s clash against Newcastle is proving too big a test to be played on his birthday. He may have to settle for something more normal, though, as luck hasn’t been as kind to Alan Pardew this season with Newcastle slumped to the bottom of the Premier League table. Injuries and suspensions have to have taken their toll on the FA Cup holders and a trip to the Premiership is the last thing they need right now.
West Ham United: Premier League v. Nottingham Forest
England’s Romelu Lukaku is one of the league’s few big-name imports to make his mark on the cup this season. The Belgian is the league’s top scorer with 12 goals and enjoyed another positive week on the international stage, scoring two against the Czech Republic at Wembley in the Carabao Cup. However, he is left out of the West Ham team for this weekend’s FA Cup third round trip to Nottingham Forest. Pardew is likely to start with his main players and will be hoping that they won’t have too much extra motivation against last season’s cup winners.
Bournemouth: Premier League v. Chelsea
Chelsea may be flying high on the Premier League but they’re often plodding in the FA Cup. Slaven Bilic has won the Cup in both his seasons as Bournemouth boss and next week’s fixture against the reigning champions would surely be a match every manager dreams of. However, the Cherries are arguably the favourites for the prize as they’ve not been much of a force in the Premier League this season and the absence of Eden Hazard won’t do them any favors.
Manchester United: Premier League v. Peterborough United
Even though Jose Mourinho can feel pleased with his results this season, they haven’t been anywhere near the level that he set during his years at Chelsea and the FA Cup is always a potential source of redemption for the Portuguese manager. The winners of Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie will certainly go some way to getting him closer to that prize, but Mourinho will have his eye on this Saturday’s important league encounter against Stoke City.
Everton: Premier League v. Aston Villa
Everton fans have been enjoying a return to success in recent weeks under Marco Silva, but there’s still only one trophy on the table for them at the moment. Saturday’s tie against Aston Villa is the fixture that both sides have had the opportunity to win this season, but neither is in good enough form to claim the following weekend’s tie at Wembley. With champions-elect Chelsea away, Hull City hosting Wolves and Manchester City visiting Southampton, the Premier League will be the only highlight next weekend.
West Ham: FA Cup v. Sheffield Wednesday
Mark Noble has been the Premier League’s top English player this season but the Hammers will want to make sure that’s not the case in the FA Cup third round clash with Sheffield Wednesday. The Spaniard has steered West Ham to third place in the Premier League and has also inspired his side to qualify for the League Cup final, so the FA Cup presents a genuine chance to make more history this season.
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