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Five of the most interesting FA Cup ties this weekend

The FA Cup reaches the fourth round stage this weekend and there are some fascinating fixtures set to take place.

A cup clash between the Premier League’s title challengers headlines the weekend action, while there are several ties set up for perfectly for potential upsets and surprises.

Here are five FA Cup fixtures to look forward to this weekend.

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Manchester City vs Arsenal. The Premier League’s top two. Pep Guardiola vs Mikel Arteta.

The stage is set for a fascinating cup clash on Friday evening, as City welcome the Premier League leaders to the Etihad. Arsenal have emerged as the greatest challenge to City’s dominance of the Premier League this season, leading the title race after a record-breaking start to the campaign.

The Gunners are improving with each game and demonstrating the confidence of potential champions, with tough tests against Tottenham and Manchester United navigated in recent fixtures.

Arsenal have not met Manchester City so far this season however, and the winner of their cup clash on Friday could be given a psychological advantage ahead of the run-in. The added narrative of Arteta – who spent three seasons as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City – facing his former side makes this an unmissable occasion.

Arteta insisted this week that becoming competitors for major silverware would not impact his friendship with Guardiola, but there is no doubt set to be tension between two coaches obsessed with winning.

A win for the travelling north Londoners would be the clearest indication yet that the Gunners are the real deal. Arteta has lost six of the seven meetings in all competitions since swapping the Etihad for the Emirates.

Preston North End vs Tottenham

Antonio Conte has called for Tottenham to be ‘dreamers’ in pursuit of silverware this season, as the club look to end a barren run without silverware this season.

It’s been 15 years since Spurs last lifted a trophy, while the club have won just one League Cup since the turn of the millennium. Spurs have a proud history in this competition and only Arsenal (14) and Manchester United (12) have won the FA Cup on more occasions, but the last of their eight successes came in 1991.

Conte has called on his squad to push for success this season as Spurs look to persuade Harry Kane to sign a new deal.

“We are talking about a player who has fantastic abilities, incredible skills,” Conte said after Kane equalled Jimmy Greaves’ club goalscoring record at Fulham last week.

“For sure I’d like to help him try to do something important. To win something with Tottenham. He loves Tottenham. Tottenham is in his heart. It would be good if together we are able to win something.”

Spurs travel to face a Preston side sandwiched in the middle of a congested Championship table, but who are just two points from the play-offs. A trip to Deepdale represents a tricky test, but Spurs will be confident of progress past a team who are the third-lowest scorers in the second tier.

With Chelsea and Newcastle already out and one of Manchester City or Arsenal set to join them this weekend, this season offers a real chance for Spurs to go deep into the tournament.

Wrexham vs Sheffield United

Wrexham are flying the flag for non-league sides in the fourth round after the Welsh side beat Championship Coventry City 4-3 to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2000.

The National League leaders have generated headlines since their highly-publicised takeover two years ago, when Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took charge of the fifth-tier side.

With a hit documentary series detailing the duo’s venture into football club ownership, Wrexham have another chance to add to their script this weekend when Sheffield United visit the Racecourse Ground.

Wrexham will be in confident mood after a six-game winning run in the National League, but face a difficult challenge against a Sheffield United side three tiers above and pushing for Premier League promotion.

Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson has discussed his desire to add some excitement to the next docu-series and earn a positive result for the club’s new legion of American-based fans.

“Our job is to make sure the second series is as exciting as possible,” Parkinson told BBC Sport.

“There are a few good episodes on our FA Cup run alone.”

Derby County vs West Ham

West Ham’s season has not gone to plan to date, with David Moyes under pressure following a decline in results.

Moyes has done a fine job since returning to the London Stadium for a second spell, but the Hammers are hovering just above the Premier League’s relegation places at present. After successive seasons in Europe and an ambition to challenge the ‘Big Six’, West Ham unexpectedly find themselves in a dogfight down at the bottom.

Last weekend’s win over Everton lifted the club from the relegation places and saw Jarrod Bowen return to form with a double, a result and performance that Moyes will hope can kick-start a stuttering season.

This weekend’s opponents, Derby County, are 14 unbeaten in League One with the Rams having lifted themselves into the promotion picture under Paul Warne. After the turmoil of recent campaigns, there is an improved atmosphere at Pride Park and the visit of Premier League opposition will be one the fans will welcome. West Ham will need to be at their best to avoid a cupset as Moyes looks to ease the growing unrest at the club.

Brighton vs Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp slammed his side’s performance after Liverpool were humbled 3-0 at Brighton earlier this month, calling his side’s showing the worst of his managerial career.

Liverpool were thrashed 3-0 at the Amex Stadium in a disastrous display, with the Seagulls unfortunate to have not won by a greater margin after cutting apart Klopp’s side with effortless ease.

“Massively frustrated, congratulations to Brighton on a super game against a bad opponent. We were not good today, I can’t remember a good phase or period,” Klopp said in the aftermath.

“Doing better than today should be easy, because this is a really low point. I can’t remember a worse game,”

Liverpool have an almost immediate chance to redeem themselves as the clubs go head-to-head once again in the FA Cup fourth round. Klopp was pleased with his side’s performance after a win at Wolves in their third round replay, as a new-look midfield of Thiago, Naby Keita and Stefan Bajcetic added some much needed energy to the side.

Klopp stuck with that trio for the goalless draw with Chelsea last weekend and it remains to be seen how he sets up his team against the Seagulls this time around. Liverpool’s midfield malaise has not been more evident than in their horror-show on the South Coast earlier this month.

Read – Ranking the five fastest players in the Premier League this season

Read Also – Eight Premier League managers doing impressive jobs this season

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