The FA Cup is back with a selection of blockbuster matchups as the players take to the pitch in what for many will be their first game in this season’s competition.
Grosvenor Sport ambassadors Jamie O’Hara and Jose Enrique take a closer look at two of this weekend’s key fixtures, giving their thoughts on Sunderland versus Newcastle and Arsenal versus Liverpool.
Watch the full episode of The Counter Attack with Jamie O’Hara and Jose Enrique here.
Sunderland v Newcastle
Sunderland versus Newcastle is a game that I have played in before and it is one of the best fixtures. I once played in this game for Newcastle on Halloween and we scored five goals against them. It was one of the best games I was involved in as a player because the atmosphere was electric.
It’s not going to be an easy game for Newcastle, Sunderland have been in good form in the Championship. This is also a game Sunderland fans will have been waiting for, for a very long time. With the injuries in Newcastle’s squad, it makes it very hard for Eddie Howe to rest players and this isn’t the sort of game where the fans will want him to rotate the squad. If Newcastle lose to Sunderland, the supporters could turn – this is such an important fixture for the fans.
Newcastle may have injuries but they still have quality and given the importance of this game, I expect them to be up for it and their class will show on the day.
Match prediction: Sunderland 0 – 2 Newcastle 17/2
This is a fixture we have all wanted to see for years; we’ve been waiting for it because Sunderland have been absolutely shocking in recent years. The tie has finally come, and at a good time for Sunderland. They are at home playing against a Newcastle side that are under-pressure and have lots of injuries, so I think that Sunderland can go into this fancying their chances at knocking out their neighbours.
It would be an unbelievable upset if Sunderland could pull it off and would heap even more pressure on Eddie Howe. He has to put out a strong side and put Sunderland to the sword – Newcastle can’t afford to lose this game. They’re struggling in ninth in the league. I think a cup run is key for Newcastle in terms of keeping fans on side, otherwise I can see unrest on the horizon. There is potential for some Newcastle supporters wanting the likes of Jose Mourinho to have a go back in the Premier League if their poor run continues under Eddie Howe.
Match prediction: Sunderland 1 – 2 Newcastle 7/1
Arsenal v Liverpool
I’m expecting both teams to be massively changed in this because I can’t see either of them caring too much about the FA Cup this year. They are both fighting for the League and they’ve got key players away for AFCON and the Asia Cup.
I played in the FA Cup Final and that whole run was incredible, but I think the gloss of the competition has faded a bit now. Arsenal need to win trophies, they’ve spent a lot of money, and they need to make it count. I expect them to be the more likely of the two to field a stronger side and get the win here.
Match prediction: Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool 15/2
There are too many games in this period for both of these teams to play full strength team every week, so there will have to be changes to the line-ups. Liverpool have had much more domestic success than Arsenal in recent years, so I think this competition is more important to Arsenal this year.
If Liverpool can finish in the top four this season it would be a very good accomplishment and they are still fighting for the Europa League. In my opinion, it is more important for Arsenal to do well in the FA Cup, but nonetheless I cannot go against Liverpool and think they have enough quality in the squad to get past what could be a weaker Arsenal side.
Match prediction: Arsenal 1 – 2 Liverpool 21/2
Tottenham v Burnley
Jose Enrique: Tottenham 13/25
Jamie O’Hara: Tottenham 13/25
Sunderland v Newcastle
Jose Enrique: Newcastle 3/4
Jamie O’Hara: Newcastle 3/4
Chelsea v Preston
Jose Enrique: Chelsea 1/5
Jamie O’Hara: Chelsea 1/5
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa
Jose Enrique: Aston Villa 13/25
Jamie O’Hara: Aston Villa 13/25
Manchester City v Huddersfield
Jose Enrique: Manchester City 1/25
Jamie O’Hara: Manchester City 1/25
Shrewsbury v Wrexham
Jose Enrique: Draw 49/20
Jamie O’Hara: Wrexham 57/50
Arsenal v Liverpool
Jose Enrique: Liverpool 12/5
Jamie O’Hara: Arsenal EVS