IT was a day of mild surprises in the FA Cup with Rochdale’s defeat of Nottingham Forest one that caught the eye.
Non-league Blyth and Southport threatened shocks before suffering brave defeats at the hands of Birmingham and Derby respectively.
Newcastle were the biggest name to exit at Leicester but with both sides making seven changes the result could have gone either way. There are another nine ties on Sunday and again team news will be crucial. Here’s what I have.
Arsenal v Hull
Colombian keeper David Ospina is expected to start for Arsenal. Striker Danny Welbeck (thigh) is expected to miss out again along with Olivier Giroud, who serves the final game of his three-match suspension. Lukas Podoloski is away. England international Theo Walcott could come back into the team following his return as a sub on New Year’s Day along with midfielder Mathieu Flamini as manager Arsene Wenger is expected to rotate his squad. Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee), Abou Diaby (calf) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) are all out as they continue their rehabilitation.
Hull welcome back Tom Huddlestone from suspension as they look to repeat last season’s run in the competition, which saw them reach the final for the first time in their history. Huddlestone is back after four games out and Stephen Quinn also returns following a one-match ban, while Harry Maguire, Tom Ince and Yannick Sagbo will be pushing for rare starts. There are gaps to fill elsewhere, with Andy Robertson (ankle), Liam Rosenior (hamstring), Gaston Ramirez (groin), Mohamed Diame (knee) and Michael Dawson (hamstring) all missing.
Aston Villa v Blackpool
Ron Vlaar is likely to be out after he limped off in the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Thursday. Fabian Delph is still suspended while Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker and Libor Kozak are out. Jack Grealish, Shay Given and Matt Lowton could all start with Paul Lambert expected to rotate his squad.
Blackpool manager Lee Clark has a full squad to choose from. Henry Cameron and Gary MacKenzie joined Mark Waddington and Dom Telford in first-team training on Friday. Jose Cubero is not training with that group but has been working with the fitness coach. Steven Davies has been struggling with a neck problem but has declared himself fit.
Chelsea v Watford
Striker Diego Costa and forward Eden Hazard are among the top Chelsea players who could be rotated out of the starting X1. Petr Cech could replace Thibaut Courtois in goal while Oscar, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic could be rested.
Watford will have to make at least one change as midfielder Adlene Guedioura has returned to Crystal Palace at the end of his loan spell. Centre-back Sebastien Bassong is ineligible to feature under the terms of his loan deal from Norwich. Fellow defenders Joel Ekstrand (back) and Gabriel Tamas (cruciate) are still on the sidelines but strikers Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra could return.
Crystal Palace v Dover
Palace will be without captain and top scorer Mile Jedinak as he is on international duty. Damien Delaney and James McArthur face late fitness tests after picking up injuries at Aston Villa. Glenn Murray, Jack Hunt and Adlene Guedioura are available after returning from loan spells.
Dover are unbeaten in their past 13 matches in all competitions and manager Chris Kinnear admits all of his players are desperate to feature. Keeper Mitch Walker returned to training on Tuesday after being out with an elbow injury since September and could feature on the bench.
Man City v Sheff Wed
City will again be without captain Vincent Kompany and strikers Edin Dzeko (calf) and Sergio Aguero (knee) remain on the sidelines. Midfielder Fernando is available again after suspension while Yaya Toure is likely to feature for City for the final time before joining up with Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations. Manager Manuel Pellegrini has hinted second-choice keeper Willy Caballero is set to keep his place for another game after starting in Thursday’s 3-2 home win over Sunderland.
Wednesday will be without on-loan pair Royston Drenthe and Lewis McGugan after they returned to parent clubs Reading and Watford respectively. Captain Glenn Loovens overcame a hamstring strain to start in the 1-0 win at Wigan on Tuesday and is expected to resume in defence while fellow centre-half Kamil Zayatte is in contention for his first appearance since September following a long-term hamstring problem.
QPR v Sheff Utd
QPR boss Harry Redknapp is likely to rest several key players. Rob Green, Richard Dunne, Joey Barton and Clint Hill have all featured regularly over the busy Christmas schedule and are likely to sit out the match. Sandro and Alejandro Faurlin are both ruled out with knee injuries while Yun Suk-young remains sidelined with an ankle problem and Adel Taarabt is not considered fit enough to play.
James Wallace returns to the Blades squad after overcoming groin and hamstring issues to return to full training. Defender Chris Basham is suspended for the first of a three-match ban after his straight red card in the Boxing Day defeat to Port Vale. The Blades will also be without striker Chris O’Grady and defender Paddy McCarthy, who have returned to respective parent clubs Brighton and Crystal Palace.
Southampton v Ipswich
Saints will again be without right-back Nathaniel Clyne (foot) but France midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is available after being suspended for the win over Arsenal. Midfielder Sadio Mane is set for a scan after limping off after scoring against the Gunners. Japan defender Maya Yoshida has left on international duty at the Asia Cup in Australia.
Mick McCarthy must decide whether to bring Tyrone Mings back into the Ipswich side after he returned from having an infected toe. Luke Hyam is also available again after an Achilles problem but Noel Hunt has returned to Leeds following the conclusion of his loan spell.
Stoke v Wrexham
Bojan Krkic remains out with a hamstring problem for Stoke while boss Mark Hughes may take the opportunity to give fringe players such as keeper Jack Butland and midfielder Oliver Shenton a chance to stake a claim with a rare run out.
Louis Moult and Andy Bishop both face a fitness battle for Wrexham. Moult, a former trainee with the Potters, must shrug off an ankle injury and Bishop has a hamstring problem. Jon Flatt is set to end his spell on loan from Wolves by coming back into the starting line-up, as Andy Coughlin continues his recovery from injury and fellow loanee Dan Bachmann drops out to return to Stoke. Captain Dean Keates remains sidelined by a thigh strain.
Sunderland v Leeds
Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole has a groin injury and will not feature after the problem also kept him out of Thursday’s 3-2 Barclays Premier League defeat at Manchester City. However, head coach Gus Poyet will have a tailor-made replacement available following Liam Bridcutt’s return after concussion, while full-backs Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder) and Anthony Reveillere (calf) are expected to resume training next week.
Leeds are expected to be without defenders Stephen Warnock and Jason Pearce. Warnock was forced out of the defeat at Derby due to an ankle injury and centre-back Pearce has been struggling with a knee problem that has ruled him out of the previous two matches. Head coach Neil Redfearn must decide whether to start with right-footed Gaetano Berardi at left-back in Warnock’s absence or recall Charlie Taylor, whose last appearance was in August.
Yeovil v Man Utd
Yeovil boss Gary Johnson is keeping his side’s injury worries close to his chest. The Glovers boss admits a number of his players are sidelined but hopes the unnamed squad members will be ready to face the Red Devils. Jordan Clarke is one player that definitely will not feature as he remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Ashley Young has been ruled out for United because of the hamstring injury he suffered against Stoke on New Year’s Day. Midfielder Angel di Maria is back in training following his pelvic injury and could feature. Marcos Rojo (thigh), Daley Blind (knee) and Marouane Fellaini (illness) are all major doubts.
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