Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: FA Cup 2022/23 fourth round

Those media outlets that have beef with the BBC might enjoy wheeling out a narrative of "is the FA Cup dead?" around this time of year, but we here at the Sound of Football can't get enough of it.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are UK (GMT)


FA Cup fourth round: Manchester City v Arsenal
20.00 on ITV1 and STV
When this one came out of the bag, everyone knew it would be the tie of the round. The two best teams in the country at the moment. Master versus apprentice. Will this match give us any indication of where the Premier League title is going this year? Well, probably not, but it might give you a good idea of where the FA Cup is going. As people have slowly started to come around to the idea that Arsenal could just win this season's title, it has been rightly pointed out that they have yet to face the current champions. This match could give us some indication (with a huge asterisk) as to what will happen when these sides do meet in the league in just a couple of weeks' time. There are reasons for Arsenal fans to be moderately optimistic; yes, City are capable of going on a huge run of wins and eating up Arsenal's lead. But usually by now City are already well on to that familiar run and they tend to become less imperious as the Champions League restarts. That could also explain why City have a much better record in the League Cup - where the business end is in the Champions League winter break, while the FA Cup's big rounds are played between the knockout stages. There are rumours that a group of seniors players in Pep's squad are either unhappy or uninterested while eyeing lucrative moves to PSG or Barcelona in the summer with their current contracts winding down. Of course that sort of talk is usual in transfer season. So no, after this game we'll be no closer to knowing who will be lifting the Premier League in May, but we should at least have a hell of a lot to talk about. GS


FA Cup fourth round: Accrington Stanley v Leeds United
12.30 on BBC One & iPlayer
The last time Accrington Stanley were in the Boxset was at this stage of the competition four years ago. Terry wrote the preview for that one, which was basically just a series of puns based on the sponsored name of the stadium, Wham. On that day, Accrington were unsuccessful against Frank Lampard's Derby in a tight game that saw both sides pick up a red card. This is their first chance since then to make to the fifth round for the first time in their history. Leeds make some history just by turning up as it's their first ever visit to Accrington. Both clubs are in need of a lift, sitting just one point above the relegation zone in their respective leagues. Only David Moyes is at greater risk of losing his job in the Premier League than Jesse Marsch, according to the bookmakers. Replacing Rafinha was always going to be tough for Leeds but they look set to start this game with the man they bought to do just that, Luis Sinisterra. The Colombian returned from injury as a substitute in last weekend's draw against Brentford and the impressive win against Cardiff in the third round. The star of that Cup win was 19 year old Wilfried Gnonto and his Di Canio-like scissor kick volley after just 30 seconds of play. While in a similar position in League One, it's unlikely Accrington manager John Coleman is under as much pressure as his counterpart. Last year, he passed the milestone of 1,000 games in his two lengthy spells in charge of the Lancashire club. He first took over in 1999 and has overseen all of the four promotions the club has enjoyed during its rise from the Northern Premier League. GS

FA Cup fourth round: Preston North End v Tottenham Hotspur
18.00 on BBC One & iPlayer
In my head the BBC team at Accrington will quickly pack up their stuff after the match there, jump in the van for the half hour drive to Deepdale and pick up where they left off. Motty would definitely have been up for that. Preston sit mid-table in the Championship but are relying on their away form to keep themselves there. They've lost their last four league games at home including defeat to Huddersfield, who they went on to get the better of in the third round. Advantage Spurs you would say, though that really depends on how they approach this tie. Antonio Conte led Chelsea to FA Cup success in the instantly forgettable 2018 final, beating Jose Mourinho's Manchester United with an Eden Hazard penalty. Both Conte and Mourinho were brought into Spurs to get trophy success. Mourinho failed and this increasingly looks like Conte last chance to win something for the club before he engineers his next move. The story of last season for Tottenham was that performances improved once they got Kulusevski and Bentancur on loan from Juventus. Will they get an uplift with this season's winter loan signing Arnaut Danjuma from Villarreal? The 25 year old Dutch international seemed destined to join Everton but Spurs appear to have made a better offer. He could feature in this game in place of the obviously out-of-sorts Son Heung Min. Any more business for Spurs this month might be hampered by a potential worldwide transfer ban for their director of football Fabio Paratici for his part in the investigation into inflated transfer values that has led to Juventus being docked 15 points in Serie A. GS

Ligue 1: Marseille v Monaco
20.00 on BT Sport 3
Things are suddenly looking interesting in Ligue 1 - could we be in for a genuine title race? Before the break for the World Cup, PSG were cruising to yet another league title (a record eleventh to take them past Marseille and St Etienne on the all-time list) - they were undefeated and had dropped points in just two of fifteen games. Since the return, they have lost twice and allowed the chasing pack to close in. Having been 11 points adrift at the break Marseille have closed the gap at the top to just five, and will feel they can narrow the gap even further this weekend, with the Parisiens facing a Reims side who haven't suffered defeat since mid-September. However their opponents today from the other end of the Cote d'Azure are also in blistering form having most recently taken apart Ajaccio 7-1 at the Stade Louis II with a fourteen minute first half hat-trick from Wissam Ben Yedder and braces from Krepin Diatta and Breel Embolo. The Swiss international Embolo seems to be enjoying himself since moving from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer with eleven goals to his name in addition to the two he scored at the World Cup. GS


FA Cup fourth round: Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool
13.30 on ITV1 and STV
Roberto De Zerbi’s road to our little island started back in February 2022 when Putin’s Russia began raining hell down on their sovereign neighbour, Ukraine. De Zerbi’s Shakhtar Donetsk were top of the Premier League with a Super Cup already under their belts when events understandably forced the campaign’s curtailment. In this context, nothing much matters, certainly not football. Brighton were a more than capable side under his predecessor, Graham Potter, but after a brief period of adjustment, they emerged with the kind of swagger today’s visitors, until recently, were famous for. Since the restart, and with the exception of their League Cup exit, Brighton have been scoring for fun: three against Southampton, four at Everton, five at ‘Boro in the last round and three at home to the side they face today. In a nice piece of symmetry, the Seagulls also scored three back in October in De Zerbi first match in charge, which was also against Klopp’s men. To be fair, that ended in a draw, but I’m labouring the point as Brighton’s rise is as notable as Liverpool’s, dare I say, decline. There’s nothing certain in football, but short of Brighton fielding an unnecessarily weak side, I think they’re a good bet to get through here. JB

FA Cup fourth round: Wrexham v Sheffield United
16.30 on BBC One & iPlayer
There are a lot more Wrexham fans around these days. Their celebrity owners, the subsequent investment and a TV series on Disney has done that. Imagine selling the soul of your club for a successful streaming TV series - you wouldn’t catch my club doing that. Speaking of which, ex-Sunderland coach, Phil Parkinson, is the main man at the Racecourse Ground these days. For those of you without a Disney+ subscription, the Dragons play in the National League where they are sweeping all before them. While promotion back to the Football League is not a foregone conclusion, they do have a slight edge on second place Notts County. Having already played five fixtures in the FA Cup, Wrexham will be feeling confident ahead of this one. Indeed, they knocked out Championship side Coventry in the last round in a seven goal thriller. Heading into this potential banana skin are Sheffield United who are also enjoying their season, sitting thirteen points ahead of third place Watford. They’re unbeaten in nine and have the best defensive record in the league. Something has to give here. Can United inflict Wrexham’s first home defeat of the season, or will their seniority win out? JB

Serie A: Napoli v Roma
19.45 on BT Sport 1 & Ultimate
An unfamiliar table topper having amassed fifty points from nineteen games. No, this is not Arsenal and the Premier League. This is Serie A and Napoli. In this week's podcast we wondered if the league leaders were embroiled in Italian football’s latest scandal which saw Juventus deducted 15 points. Assuming the Neapolitans are in the clear then the dream of their first Scudetto since Diego Maradona claimed the title in 1990 is very much alive. Today, Gli Azzurri fans are hailing their own Kvaradona: Kvicha Kvaratskhelia. The Georgian striker has seven goals and as many assists. But the other forward catching the eye is the Nigerian Victor Osimhen who has scored 13 goals in 15 games, only one less than last campaign’s total. Two of those goals came in the historic 5-1 thrashing of Juventus. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s Roma are going great guns. Unbeaten since the World Cup and through to the next round of the Cup (which they’ll win IMO). Complementing their three successive clean sheets is the welcome return to form of Tammy Abraham. The English striker has two goals since the restart and laid on two assists for his strike partner, Paolo Dybala, against Fiorentina the week before last. But Napoli present a different challenge to La Viola and their last opponents, Spezia. But Mourinho is a past master of bubble bursting and if any coach can organise an emotionally charged upset at an away ground, it is he. TD

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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