Including West Ham, here are the 32 clubs left, and who they will be facing off against in the next two rounds. I have bolded the teams I expect to make it to the 6th round Quarterfinals, or Elite 8, if you’re an American College Basketball fan.
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Manchester United/Liverpool vs. Stockport County/West Ham United
Everton/Sheffield Wednesday vs. Wycombe Wanderers/Tottenham
Swansea City/Nottingham Forest vs. Cheltenham Town/Manchester City
Barnsley/Norwich City vs. Chelsea/Luton Town
Chorley/Wolves vs. (Southampton/Shrewsbury Town)/Arsenal
Brentford/Leicester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion/Blackpool
Fulham/Burnley vs. Bournemouth/Crawley Town
Sheffield United/Plymouth Argyle vs. Millwall/Bristol City
A deep Cup run could be overly cumbersome for West Ham’s thin squad. However, it will also be the perfect chance for players who have fallen out of favour to show they’ve still got it, or for those who fancy a future in the first team to show they have it.
Anderson could make an appearance if recalled from his stinker of a loan at FC Porto-Jon. Mipo Odubeko could prove to be the supplemental striker GSB have sought after for so long.
The Fifth Round game against Manchester United or Liverpool will be played February 10th. The date for this matchup is sandwiched between West Ham’s Premier League fixtures against Fulham (18th in the Prem) and Sheffield United (20th in the Prem). We can dedicate our all to this match and still have some saved to ensure a quality top-10 finish in the Premiership.
What would a Cup run mean to this fanbase? A trophy won’t undo the immense hardships people face the world over. But I googled “West Ham fans go absolutely mental” and found a series of YouTube videos that FanSided’s copywriting team will not allow me to link to, but do show how football can inspire grown men to express themselves with more merriment and childlike exuberance than the birth of their child or sealing of wedding vows ever could.
And while the odds are that a Manchester Derby will decide who takes home the ultimate prize, I know all the minnows are also looking ahead dangerously to see what clubs could act as stepping stones on the path to FA Cup glory. One such club, who will be hard-pressed to admit they are rooting for West Ham to upset Manchester United or Liverpool, is our hated rivals, Millwall F.C.
I root for West Ham. I am forever blowing bubbles. I will continue to expect the best possible thing for my club, however unlikely, and that just happens to be a Wembley showdown between the Lions and the Hammers.