The FA Cup weekend kicks into high gear on Friday when reigning champions Manchester City travel to Tottenham Hotspur for the fourth round’s most anticipated matchup. Both sides will be eager to avoid their earliest FA Cup exit in several years. Spurs have progressed past the fourth round every year since the 2018-19 season but have a string of fifth-round exits after the fact while City have passed the fourth round every year since the 2014-15 season. Pep Guardiola’s side are also on a four-year streak of reaching the semifinals and come in as the reigning champions, which might make the stakes higher for them.
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How to watch and odds
- Date: Friday, Jan. 26 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — London, England
- Live stream: ESPN+
- Odds: Tottenham Hotspur +340; Draw +333; Manchester -143
Tottenham Hotspur: The injury crisis that derailed their impressive start to the season is nearly over, most notably with the imminent return of James Maddison. Manager Ange Postecoglou said the midfield is in the running to start the cup tie, which offers Spurs some real offensive firepower especially when considering Richarlison’s recent form. The Brazilian striker has five goals in his last seven games, which means he could combine nicely with Maddison if he returns to play with a strong showing.
Richarlison and Maddison have the potential to help Spurs overcome the absence of Son-Heung min while he represents South Korea at the Asian Cup, while new signing Timo Werner will have a chance to impress after making his debut in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United.
Manchester City: The reigning champions have been perfect since lifting the Club World Cup before Christmas and feel like they might be on the way up after a rocky pre-holiday period. A matchup against Spurs will be the toughest test City have faced in over a month, and Guardiola will be eager to prove that they are officially back on track as they continue a quest to win as many trophies as possible this season.
Kevin de Bruyne’s return in recent weeks has been a major boost, while the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have stepped up in the post-Club World Cup period. Though City, unlike Spurs, are not missing anyone at the Asian Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations, a few stars will miss the FA Cup tie. Most notable among them is Erling Haaland, who Guardiola said is close to making his return from injury but will not be ready in time for Friday’s matchup, while Ederson and Manuel Akanji are also still out.
Tottenham and City have played a lot of entertaining fixtures in recent years, and looking at the list of available players, Friday’s matchup seems poised to continue the tradition. It might be a high-scoring fixture and could be one of a few ties that could conceivably deliver an upset. Pick: Tottenham Hotspur 3, Manchester City 2