Man City Turn Attention to FA Cup Defence 


With the dream of a record third successive Premier League title now in ruins after trailing Liverpool by 16 points, Manchester City have now turned attention to defending the FA Cup trophy they won last year. The Citizens welcome Fulham to the Etihad on Sunday in what is expected to be a roller coaster for Pep Guardiola’s men

Manchester City will be looking to book their spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup when they welcome Championship side Fulham to the Etihad Stadium this weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s side will enter the match off the back of a 1-0 win over Sheffield United in the Premier League on Tuesday night, where Aymeric Laporte made his return from a knee problem.

Guardiola’s men lifted the cup last season and have won their last seven matches in the competition, scoring 30 goals and conceding just four during that run.

After seeing off Port Vale in round three, next up for City is another home tie against a Fulham side that eliminated Aston Villa to reach this stage.

City now face back-to-back cup fixtures as they will follow Sunday’s clash with the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against rivals Manchester United on January 29.

The headline fixture of the FA Cup third round is the fixture between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur.

 Tottenham may have picked up a first win in five Premier League outings last time out, but they were far from convincing in their 2-1 victory over Norwich City.

The top flight’s bottom side pegged Spurs back with 20 minutes remaining – Teemu Pukki’s penalty cancelling out a Dele Alli opener – but Son Heung-min spared his side’s blushes late on.

It was a much-needed win for Mourinho’s men that keeps them in the hunt for a top-four finish, sitting as they do six points off Chelsea in the final Champions League qualifying berth.

Finishing fourth is one of Mourinho’s aims in his first season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, along with ending the club’s 12-year wait for some silverware.

The one big blot on predecessor Mauricio Pochettino’s otherwise imperious record was a failure to lift any trophies, something Mourinho will be desperate to put right.

After seeing off Middlesbrough at the second attempt in round three, winning 2-1 in North London following a 1-1 draw in the initial tie, the Lilywhites have been handed a tricky fourth-round tie.

Only Liverpool and Manchester City are in better Premier League form than Southampton, who returned to winning ways in midweek with a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Whereas relegation was once a serious possibility, Ralph Hasenhuttl has transformed his side’s fortunes and momentum is very much on their side heading into this all-Premier League affair.

In fact, Southampton were deserved 1-0 winners when these two sides met in the league a few weeks ago thanks to an impressive Danny Ings strike.

Mourinho has only previously lost two games against an opponent in a single calendar month on one occasion. Should Hasenhuttl again come out on top this weekend, Tottenham’s decision to replace Pochettino with the Portuguese will be called into question.

Mourinho rued his side’s luck after losing Harry Winks to injury in the win over Norwich, a game that saw skipper Hugo Lloris make his long-awaited return from injury.

Leading scorer Harry Kane is out until April with a hamstring injury and is joined on the sidelines by Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies and Danny Rose.

Only Rose has an outside chance of being fit to face Southampton, but Japhet Tanganga is more likely to get the nod here, possibly meaning a more advanced position for the versatile Ryan Sessegnon.

Erik Lamela is also in contention to feature, a player who has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six FA Cup starts – three goals of his own and four assists.

As for Southampton, Hasenhuttl has confirmed that Cedric Soares is to miss the next three weeks through injury.

Central defender Jannik Vestergaard and forward Shane Long are also ruled out after picking up knocks in midweek.

Star man Ings was rested against Palace before being introduced from the bench, suggesting he should get the nod today.

Meanwhile, Chelsea make the trip to face Hull City at the KCOM Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round having recorded just one point from their last two outings in the Premier League. As for the Tigers, two successive defeats in the Championship have led to the club dropping down to 12th position in the table.

Frank Lampard has watched his Chelsea side make a habit of producing inconsistent performances throughout the season, and it has been no different for the Englishman over the past week.

The Blues dominated at Newcastle United and played with a man advantage against Arsenal for over an hour, yet Lampard’s team were only able to record one point from a possible six.

Despite the obvious disappointment after conceding a last-gasp goal at St James’ Park, twice failing to hold onto a lead against rivals Arsenal on Tuesday night would have hurt Lampard and his team, especially with the Gunners using a makeshift defence and midfield due to the dismissal of David Luiz.

The 2-2 draw further highlighted why Lampard remains so demanding regarding his team’s struggles in the final third, and Saturday will represent a chance for the likes of Michy Batshuayi to stake his claim for a regular spot.

Tammy Abraham has just four goals from 13 outings, leaving Batshuayi with a window of opportunity to force his manager’s hand when the team return to Premier League action on February 1.

Hull will be relatively pleased with their season so far, sitting 15 points clear of the relegation zone and just seven adrift of a place in the playoffs.

However, successive 1-0 defeats to Fulham and Derby County will have led to Grant McCann demanding more from his players ahead of welcoming Chelsea to Humberside.

The Tigers earned their place at this stage of the competition with a dramatic 3-2 victory at near-by Rotherham United, despite entering the closing 25 minutes of the game trailing by a 2-1 deficit.

Tom Eaves netted a hat-trick on that occasion, and the frontman will hope to be given the chance to build on his seven-goal tally for the season at the weekend.