LONDON: Manchester United and Liverpool lock horns for the second Sunday in a row this weekend and the hope is that their FA Cup fourth round clash will offer more entertainment than the Premier League stalemate did at Anfield.
United, on a high after returning to the top of the Premier League on Wednesday, will have home advantage this time in what is the standout tie of the round.
Cup action gets under way on Friday when out-of-form Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Chorley, the only minor league side left in the draw, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 3-0 defeat they suffered against the same opponents in 1986.
Holders Arsenal will look to continue their recent resurgence with a testing trip to Southampton on Saturday, when Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City go to fourth-tier Cheltenham.
Frank Lampard’s faltering Chelsea side host Championship side Luton Town on Sunday while high-flying Leicester City travel to Championship promotion hopefuls Brentford.
United’s 0-0 draw at Anfield last weekend will not live long in the memory of clashes between the two rivals.
But it was a psychological victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side who are most definitely on the up while Liverpool’s only win in their last five games, before Thursday’s Premier League clash with Burnley, was against Aston Villa’s youngsters in the FA Cup third round.
Twelve-time Cup winners United will regard Sunday’s clash as another opportunity to show that the yawning gap between the sides last year has been bridged.
It will be the first time the clubs have met in the FA Cup for nine years, when Liverpool won 2-1, while the season before that United edged a 1-0 win.
Leicester only have to go back a year for their last FA Cup meeting with Brentford — a 1-0 win in the fourth round last January — while 14-time winners Arsenal have a happy recent memory of an Cup clash with Southampton, winning 5-0 away in the fourth round in 2017 when Theo Walcott, now enjoying life back at Southampton, scored a hat-trick.
Chelsea’s midweek defeat at Leicester turned the heat up on Lampard and any slip-up at home to Luton would inevitably lead to more debate about his job security at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard was critical of his players at Leicester and will expect a response on Sunday.
“The lucky thing for me is that I’m good at handling the pressure,” Lampard said after the Leicester defeat left his side in eighth spot in the table.
The fourth round concludes on Monday when Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, already in the League Cup final against Manchester City, visit the Championship’s bottom club Wycombe Wanderers.
The only previous meeting between the clubs was at the same stage of the Cup in 2017 when Spurs won a classic 4-3 having trailed 2-0 and 3-2.