of the weekend: Manchester United v Crawley Town
Manchester United will be
wary of being caught in a state of complacency against Crawley Town as they
have been troubled in recent years by lowly opposition.
Burton Albion claimed a
replay after holding United to a goalless draw in 2006, and Exeter famously
staged a stunning rearguard at Old Trafford a year earlier to seal the same
I know Crawley Town very
well - they are a side on the up who can give United a tough game and
provide the English giants with a stern test.
Crawley's manager Steve
Evans is a hugely volatile character, but it will be very interesting to see
him suddenly behave like a kitten up against his hero and fellow Glaswegian, Sir Alex
It will be the first time in
years that Evans will be like a baby in a cradle, and not hurling abuse along
with his assistant at the opposing dugout: it will be a real shock to the
non-league folk who know him all too well and have little good to say about him.
Ferguson will be hugely
determined for his side not to give Crawley any leeway, and he will be urging
United to be focused, fired up and clinical in front of goal.
Of course, you can never
rule out Crawley nicking a draw, and if the non-league side can survive the
opening 20 minutes, they will grow in confidence enormously.
From that point on, anything
to watch: Matthew Tubbs (Crawley Town)
Matthew Tubbs is a player I have
seen a lot of in non-league football, and he is an instinctive goalscorer.
I know Tubbs from his days at
Salisbury City, and he has not stopped scoring: he will present United with a
The 26-year-old has an
astonishing amount of self-belief in his ability and will certainly not be overawed by the big occasion.
Tubbs knows how to finish: if
he has a half-chance to make a name for himself at Old Trafford, I would back
him to pounce and capitalise on it.
of the weekend: Leyton Orient v Arsenal
You can hardly imagine a greater
comedown for Arsenal after beating Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek than having to travel to East London to take on Orient.
It will be a vociferous
atmosphere in such a rare London derby and the League One side's fans will be
at Brisbane Road in their droves.
Quite simply, the foreign players
in the Arsenal side will not understand the nature of the match and will most
probably be a touch complacent and soft.
I can certainly see Orient
grabbing something from the game, and the hosts will be very fired up for the
match and could catch Arsenal napping.
If I were an Orient defender I
would let the Arsenal forward know that I was there with a few robust
challenges in the opening 10 minutes, to see if they are up for the fight.
Often these ties come down to who
wants it more, and Arsenal may not have sufficient guts or resolve to stand up
for themselves against a League One side with nothing to lose.
pressure: Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea v Everton)
What is there left realistically for
Chelsea to win this season - and is it enough to save Ancelotti's job? Those are the questions
owner Roman Abramovich will be pondering on his yacht ahead of the Blues'
clash with Everton.
Frankly, even if
Chelsea do win the FA Cup, it should not be enough to keep the Italian in his job -
and that is what I expect Abramovich will think too.
The Blues are
already dead and buried with moss growing on the gravestone in the league, and
I would not put any of my hard-earned cash on them doing anything in Europe
this season either.
has to steer his side to victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge to salvage
even a faint hope of keeping his job come the end of the campaign, but even
then I don't think it's enough.
For a club with
Chelsea's resources and clout their performance domestically this season has
been nothing short of diabolical and, with Tottenham pushing hard for fourth
place and Liverpool also on the horizon, Ancelotti is under huge pressure.
Can Chelsea win the
FA Cup? Undoubtedly. Is that enough for a club which has just plundered £50
million on an out-of-form forward? Absolutely not.