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FA Cup: Five to Watch

Jan 25, 2014, 7:03 AM EDT

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: The travelling Burton fans enjoy the game during the FA Cup Third Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Burton Albion at the Goldsands Stadium on January 14, 2014 in Bournemouth, England. Getty Images

The Premier League has the weekend off due to FA Cup action, with many first-division sides involved in the fourth round of England’s top domestic tournament. But, with twelve games today, and the majority of those taking place at the same time, how to choose which to watch?

Bournemouth vs. Liverpool (7:45 a.m. ET)
The day’s FA Cup action kicks off in Bournemouth, where the Cherries  have a massive game ahead of them. They’re currently 16th in the Championship, but Bournemouth aren’t used to such dizzying heights, having climbed to the second tier of English football just once before. Now, the financial crisis that saw them fall out of the Football League has been stymied by investment from Russian owner Maxim Demin, but manager Eddie Howe wants glory as well. 30 years ago, Bournemouth beat cup-holders Manchester United in Round 3. Now the side is looking to go down in history once more – but they might have to stop the likes of Luis Suárez to do so. Sure, Liverpool’s star will probably be on the bench, but should things not be going the visitors’ way, he’ll be available to crush the hope out of the Cherries.

Manchester City vs. Watford (10 a.m. ET)
Fans of the popular Twitter game #WheresJoJo might be excited for this matchup – Stevan Jovetić, an expensive purchase for Manchester City in the summer but barely seen since – made a rare appearance for City against West Ham in the League Cup, and there’s no reason he won’t be spotted again today. Unless he’s already hurt again, that is. While it’s always fun to watch City’s “B Squad” and realize just how good this side is, taking a chance to watch Watford isn’t such a bad proposition. They’re an intriguing side: basically a Championship club where players from Serie A club Udinese are shipped off on loan. They’re managed by Italian Beppe Sannino and have some familiar faces amongst their ranks, including goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and venerable defender Marco Cassetti.

Port Vale vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (10 a.m. ET)
Two sides competing for promotion meet in Burslem on Saturday, in what just might be an interesting matchup. You probably can’t find a way to watch this one, so keep an eye out for live updates at the least. The hosts are pushing for promotion from League One, the Seagulls up to the Premier League, and both, of course, want to make it to the next round of the FA Cup. It’s the visitors that are favored, thanks to their Championship position, but it will be tough to take out the hosts at Vale Park, where they haven’t lost a game since November.

Sunderland vs. Kidderminster Harriers (10 a.m. ET)
79 places separate these two opponents – and with Sunderland still in the bottom three in the Premier League, you can just imagine where Kidderminster fall in the pecking order. They’re the only non-league side left in the tournament, and they travel to the Stadium of Light with just one goal: find a way of knocking out the Black Cats. But with Sunderland still on a high after knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup midweek, will it be possible to overtake the hosts? Perhaps Andy Thorn should instruct his team to just hang on and make it to penalties. After seeing the ones Sunderland put in against United, he’s got to fancy his teams chances in that area. Thorn, though, might be boosted by his own FA Cup experience, as the manager was part of the Wimbledon side that surprised the country in 1988 by defeating Liverpool in the final. Will Sunderland, too, find a Thorn in their side?

Stevenage vs. Everton (12:30 p.m. ET)
The day winds down with the Toffees making a visit to Hertfordshire, taking on League One side Stevenage. The hosts have experience lifting trophies; specifically, the FA Trophy. Don’t let that confuse you, as this particular trophy is hosted by the winner of non-league competition. As for the FA Cup, should Stevenage pull this off it would truly be a cup-set. They’re dead last in the table and have won just one league game in the past two months. They managed to beat struggling Championship side Doncaster away to get to the tie with Everton, but it’s hard to see the Premier League side, even saddled with injuries and using its reserves, having much trouble at Stevenage.

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