Brighton v Arsenal – 3pm
HAVING SENT NEWCASTLE packing for a second consecutive season, Gus Poyet’s Brighton will be full of confidence as they welcome Arsenal to the AMEX Stadium. The Championship side, who sit just outside the play-off places in seventh and are unbeaten in 2013, deserved their 2-0 victory over a second-string Magpies after an accomplished performance last time out but face significantly stiffer opposition this afternoon.
Former Chelsea midfielder Poyet, an FA Cup winner in 2000, is looked upon as one of the most promising young managers outside the top tier and has insisted that his side will concentrate on playing their own game while keeping compact and being “smart”.
Arsenal were devastating during the second half of their 5-1 demolition of West Ham in midweek but will be without captain Thomas Vermaelen after the Belgian picked up an ankle injury on Wednesday. 21-year-old Jack Wilshere is set to captain the Gunners.
Macclesfield v Wigan – 3pm
Non-league Macclesfield Town are aiming to cause a major shock by knocking out visiting Wigan. The Silkmen, who are the lowest placed team left in the competition, made history earlier this month by beating Cardiff 2-1 and ending their 139-year wait for a place in the fourth round.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez has come out with the cliched remark that it is going to be a “difficult match” despite the gulf in class but his players should take heed of their manager’s comments unless they want to find themselves on the wrong end of an historic FA Cup upset.
Manchester United v Fulham – 5.30pm
Premier League leaders Manchester United host Fulham in the late game and Alex Ferguson will no doubt want to keep their 10-game unbeaten run going in their bid to add a 12th FA Cup – and a first since 2004.
The United manager has been praising his former striker Dimitar Berbatov ahead of his return to Old Trafford and the Bulgarian is without doubt the Cottagers’ biggest asset in attack. He would like nothing more than to send the club who froze him out of the team for much of his final season packing by adding to the seven goals he has scored during the current campaign.
Brentford v Chelsea – 12pm (tomorrow)
FA Cup holders Chelsea couldn’t overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit in the Capital One Cup semi-final against Swansea and know going out of two competitions in the same week would be a disaster.
League One high-flyers and fellow Londoners Brentford are their opponents at nearby Griffin Park. Steve Perryman is in charge of the Bees and told the BBC recently that they can take some inspiration from Bradford City’s run to the league cup final.
Leeds v Tottenham – 2pm (tomorrow)
Credit: Luciano Beccho celebrates scoring against Spurs in 2010. Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport
Spurs face Leeds for the first time since 2010 – when they were brought to a replay before coming through as eventual winners. Andre Villas-Boas’ men are in good form and were well worth their draw against Manchester United last weekend.
Leeds, 11th in the Championship, have won their last two games but have been hit by the news that their talisman Luciano Becchio has submitted a transfer request.