The FA Cup fourth round draw has been made and the top Premier League clubs can breathe a collective sigh of relief that they have avoided each other and have instead been paired with lower-league opposition.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are the four favourites to clinch the coveted trophy and they can consider themselves lucky that they have been handed relatively easy passages into the fifth round of the competition. Chelsea should have little difficulty in disposing of either Millwall or Bradford City at Stamford Bridge and similarly Arsenal should be confident of sweeping past Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion.
Mourinho’s Blues overcame city rivals Watford with a 3-0 win at home last weekend and they will likely proceed through to the next round. Both Manchester clubs have avoided any huge difficulty in the fourth round draw, United being paired with League Two side Cambridge United, the lowest ranked side remaining in the tournament.
Manchester City will be happy with their draw at home to Championship side Middlesbrough and remain second favourite to clinch the trophy at 5/1, second only to Premier League leaders Chelsea who are up for grabs at 9/2.
Indeed, City had to come from behind to defeat League One side Sheffield United in the third round and Pellegrini will be eager to utilise his strongest possible line-up for this encounter, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero likely to have returned from injury by this point.
Everton will clash with high flying West Ham at Upton Park this evening to determine who will meet either Bristol City or Doncaster Rovers. The Hammers have enjoyed a hugely successful season so far, at least by their recent standards and manager Sam Allardyce will be desperate to replicate this form in the FA Cup, his Hammers side a tempting outsider at 40/1 ( BetVictor ) to clinch the trophy.
The major surprise in the third round saw crack cup outfit Sheffield United dispose of Premier League strugglers QPR to the tune of 3-0 at the weekend. The Blades have been drawn with fellow League One side Preston North End in the next round and will be confident of emulating their success in the competition last season when they reached the semi-finals.