- FA Cup
ESPN confirms FA Cup fourth round picks
ESPN will broadcast exclusively live coverage of three FA Cup fourth round games over the final weekend of January, starting with West Ham United or Manchester United v Fulham or Blackpool on Saturday January 26. That is followed on Sunday by a double bill: Brentford or Southend v Chelsea, then Leeds or Birmingham v Tottenham Hotspur.
Man United, who have won the FA Cup a record 11 times, staged a late comeback against West Ham in their original third round match last weekend to ensure a replay at Old Trafford. The 2-2 draw at Upton Park saw new Hammers arrival Joe Cole return to form, setting up both goals before Robin van Persie's equaliser in stoppage time. The winners of that tie will take on the victors of Fulham v Blackpool, who drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage in their original third round match last weekend. The Seasiders took a surprise lead through Ludovic Sylvestre, but Giorgos Karagounis restored parity with ten minutes remaining.
Kicking off ESPN's live and exclusive FA Cup double bill on Sunday January 27th is FA Cup holders Chelsea's visit to either Brentford or Southend. In their original third round match last weekend League Two Southend fought back from 2-0 down to secure a replay with Brentford, who are in the thick of the League One title race. Chelsea enjoyed an easy route through to the fourth round, demolishing Southampton 5-1 despite going behind, with new signing Demba Ba impressing on his debut. Southend last met the Stamford Bridge club in the competition as recently as 2009, when the Shrimpers forced a replay.
ESPN's final game of the FA Cup fourth round weekend will feature Spurs, who swept past Coventry 3-0 in the third round. Eight-time FA Cup winners Spurs last lifted the trophy in 1991, and have reached the semi-finals twice in the last three seasons. Andre Villas-Boas' men will face either Leeds or Birmingham, who played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday In their original third round match last weekend. Tottenham last met Leeds in the fourth round in 2009/10, with Leeds forcing a replay before Spurs emerged victorious. Spurs and Birmingham have drawn each other five times in the FA Cup, with a replay needed to decide the outcome on four occasions.
Simon Potter, head of programming and production, ESPN, EMEA, said: "The FA Cup third round produced some great action, surprises, upsets and goals and we're looking forward to bringing viewers more of the same drama that makes this tournament great. This fourth round draw will see more underdogs hoping to pull off an upset against some of the most successful teams in the competition's history - it's set to be a great weekend of live football."