While it’s easy to dismiss a weekend of FA Cup fourth round ties as academic, Fantasy managers need to start contemplating the impact that the eventual sixth round ties will have – potentially decimating Gameweek 29 as we know it.
Right now, only two Premier League fixtures from the March 8 programme are absolutely safe. Norwich will square up to Stoke at Carrow Road, while both United and West Brom will somewhat compensate for their postponed Gameweek 28 fixtures against City and Sunderland respectively by going head-to-head at the Hawthorns a week later.
The other eight Premier League matches in the Gameweek are potentially at risk, depending on how the FA Cup fifth Round ties pan out.
Here’s a summary of the Gameweek 29 situation as it stands with the scenarios discussed:
Safe From Postponement
Norwich vs Stoke
West Brom vs Man United
Cardiff vs Fulham
With both currently still in the FA Cup, one, both or neither could qualify for the sixth round. Fulham face a replay with Sheffield United at the Cottage, before taking on either Nottingham Forest or Preston. Cardiff, meanwhile, will go into their fifth round tie with holders Wigan as favourites.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
This one could easily be saved. Southampton face a testing trip to the Stadium of Light in the fifth round, but Gus Poyet’s Sunderland, with one Cup final booked already, may well be distracted as they continue to scrap for Premier League survival. Palace are already out and concentrating on avoiding relegation.
Liverpool vs Sunderland
As mentioned, Sunderland will face Southampton in the fifth round, then, and perhaps look more likely to progress than Liverpool who make a daunting trip to Arsenal. Having said that, with Bayern Munich just days after their fifth round tie, Arsene Wenger could well field a weakened side and hand Liverpool the opportunity to progress.
Newcastle vs Everton
The Magpies are out but Everton will face off with Swansea in their fifth round tie and will be favourites to progress, thus postponing the league trip to the North East.
West Ham vs Hull
While the Hammers can concentrate on their relegation scrap, Steve Bruce’s side have the opportunity of a passage to the sixth round via a testing away trip to Brighton.
Chelsea vs Tottenham
The first tie out of the hat in yesterday’s draw paired Man City with Chelsea, putting two Gameweek 29 fixtures at risk. Should Chelsea see off City in the Cup, there is a possibility that their fixture with Spurs could remain in Gameweek 29 but only if Tottenham fail to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Man City vs Aston Villa
If City defeat Chelsea at the Etihad in the fifth round, their fixture with Villa will drop out of Gameweek 29. With Manuel Pellegrini’s men facing Barcelona in the week of March 10, there is no chance of this fixture shifting to midweek.
Arsenal vs Swansea
Both remain in the fifth round with Arsenal at home to Liverpool and Swansea also facing Merseyside opponents with a trip to Everton. As mentioned, the Gunners could elect to rest players for the clash, with Liverpool and a second-leg Champions League clash against Bayern looming on March 11. That tie makes it impossible for this Gameweek 29 fixture to go ahead should either side make the sixth round.
While we’ve presented the option that any postponed Premier League fixtures could still remain within Gameweek 29, it should be noted that this was not the case last season. The FA Cup sixth round shifted several fixtures which eventually dropped in Gameweek 33 as double Gameweeks.
Based on last season, then, future double Gameweeks look very likely to be on the horizon as a result of the FA Cup sixth round. While it would be folly to plan accordingly, equally, it’s worth noting the above factors when considering your mid-term planning. We will of course offer full information on these scenarios as they develop via the fifth round ties.