5 talking points ahead of the FA Cup fifth round

FA Cup holders Chelsea continue their defence against Manchester United as this season’s competition reaches the fifth round stage.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the quest for a place in the last eight this weekend.

1. The magic lives on

Forget clubs fielding weakened teams, semi-finals at Wembley and the loss of the 3pm kick-off for the big one, the magic of the FA Cup is still very much alive in Newport. On Saturday, Michael Flynn’s League Two battlers will host Premier League Manchester City, who sit 82 places ahead of them, on a testing pitch at Rodney Parade with neutrals around the world dreaming of a major giant-killing act. It is a game which embodies the very essence of the competition.

2. Who’s Sarri now?

Maurizio Sarri and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will head for the dug-outs at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening with their respective futures a topic for intense debate. Chelsea boss Sarri was at a loss to explain the Blues’ capitulation in a 6-0 Premier League drubbing by Manchester City last weekend which was only partially soothed by Thursday night’s 2-1 Europa League win in Malmo. Solskjaer’s audition for the role of permanent Manchester United manager was going swimmingly until Paris St Germain handed out a Champions League lesson on Tuesday evening, but victory over an old foe in a repeat of last season’s final might just redress the balance.

3. Wandering to Wembley?

The last of Wolves’ four FA Cup wins came at the end of the 1959-60 season as a decade which also saw them claim three league titles drew to a close. With manager Nuno Espirito Santo having guided Wanderers, who face Bristol City in the fifth round, to 39 points from their first 26 games back in the Premier League, top-flight status for the 2019-20 campaign is all but guaranteed and a club who have played with a refreshing freedom may never have a better chance of adding to their tally in the oldest domestic cup competition.

4. Memory lane

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Wimbledon celebrate their 1988 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool (PA)</figcaption>
Wimbledon celebrate their 1988 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool (PA)

It is almost 31 years since the Crazy Gang stormed Wembley’s Twin Towers to lift the FA Cup with the most unlikely of victories over red-hot favourites Liverpool. Much has happened to Wimbledon since Lawrie Sanchez headed them to their most famous win in 1988, not least the schism which saw the original club decamp to Milton Keynes, but memories will be rekindled for the traditionalists as the one which replaced it heads into battle with Championship side Millwall.

5. Familiar territory for Frank

Derby boss Frank Lampard knows everything there is to know about the FA Cup. He won it four times as a player with Chelsea – in 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12 – having ended up on the losing side against Arsenal in 2001-02, and taking his Championship promotion hopefuls to the last eight in his first season as a manager with victory over Premier League Brighton would represent a significant achievement.

- Press Association

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