FA Cup Fourth Round draw highlights

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The FA Cup is officially in full-swing after a bumper 32 fixtures were played over the weekend, as Premier League and Championship clubs made their entrance into the competition.

The relative financial irrelevance of the competition has done nothing to stifle the allure of lifting the trophy, as fans nationwide made the journey on a cold and rainy winter's day to see their team in action, bringing a vibrant and buzzing atmosphere that only the FA Cup can muster.

The biggest shock of the weekend was undoubtedly Oxford United's impressive 3-2 victory over Swansea, but fans of Colchester United were determined not to let that overshadow a memorable performance from the League One side, as a strong first half showing proved to be enough to see off Charlton Athletic of the Championship.


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The Fourth Round has proven to be a mixed bag for Premier League sides. After Everton eased past Dag & Red on Saturday, the draw could certainly have been harsher on them, as they will make the trip to play either Carlisle or Yeovil, pending a replay. Watford meanwhile, face a tricky test away to Nottingham Forest.

So where are the potential upsets and full-blooded cup fixtures in the Fourth Round?

Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

An all-Premier League draw between two sides who have gained recognition for playing attacking, attractive football in recent months.

Stoke fans have been in good voice this winter after pulling off impressive home wins against Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City. Palace, on the other hand, have endured a small drop in form, navigating through two uninspiring 0-0 draws with Bournemouth and Swansea, before suffering a 3-0 collapse to a recovering Chelsea side.

Stoke and Palace last met on December 19 at the Britannia Stadium, with the game ending 2-1 to Palace, and Mark Hughes will be relishing the chance to set the record straight at Selhurst Park.

Derby vs Manchester United

Championship high-flyers Derby may fancy their chances against a struggling Manchester United side, whose manager this week referred to some of their performance as "boring". The 13-time Premier League winners have slumped out of the top four in recent weeks, winning only three league games in their last ten.

No such worries for Derby in contrast, who sit second in the Championship, just below leaders Middlesbrough, and with the gap in quality between the Premier League and Championship unquestionably narrowing, Paul Clement's side may not have a better opportunity to stamp their name on the front pages this season.

Liverpool (or Exeter City) vs West Ham

Earlier in the season, West Ham recorded their first win at Anfield since 1963, before completing their double over Liverpool at the turn of the new year, scoring five goals and conceding none in the two fixtures combined.

Liverpool, after finding a new gear upon Jurgen Klopp's arrival have struggled with both injuries and results in recent weeks, and with walking-bulwark Martin Skrtel and the class of Philippe Coutinho not expected to make a return to the squad until at least February, Slaven Bilic will be hoping to make it three wins in three games vs Liverpool this season, providing Klopp's side overcome Exeter in the replay at Anfield.

Ipswich (or Portsmouth) vs Bournemouth

Should Ipswich overturn Portsmouth in the third round replay, it brings an interesting scenario to the table. Ipswich and Bournemouth were both among the teams vying for promotion into the Premier League in the 2014/15 season, with both of their league games ending in a draw.

Ipswich will be conscious of the fact that much of the Bournemouth squad remain unchanged from last year, with Eddie Howe's insistence on using the players that took the Cherries to the top-flight deserve their chance to play there.

The Championship and the Premier League may seem a world apart, but with Ipswich leading another charge towards promotion to the Premier League and Bournemouth keeping their heads above the water - 16th in the Premier League - the ten places between the teams may prove to be less of a mountain, and more of a molehill.

The fixtures will be played January 29 through February 1.

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