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Preview: What (definitely) will and won't happen this weekend

Alexis Sanchez

FA Cup

Swansea vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12.15pm)

The big talking point: How will Tottenham cope without Harry Kane?

What will happen: Of equal curiosity, though, is whether Swansea can continue their good form without Jordan Ayew. The suspended Ghanaian may have his critics, but he's been integral to their good form in 2018 and Swansea will now need to look elsewhere for the outlet he provides at the top of the pitch.

What won't happen: No outright centre-forward for Spurs. Fernando Llorente is the obvious choice to replace Kane but, as Son Heung-min showed against Bournemouth, he is capable of creating all sorts of issues from a false-nine role. Expect him to start.

Manchester United vs Brighton (Saturday, 7.45pm)

The big talking point: The pressure on Jose Mourinho. No real challenge in the Premier League, dumped out of the League Cup by Bristol City and now out of the Champions League; another botched tactical approach here and there'll be trouble.

What will happen: Brighton have focused so much energy on survival that it would be only natural for the standard to drop here. With an international break looming, there's no real reason for Chris Hughton to rotate his side, but mentality is a strange beast. Conversely, this must now be United's sole focus.

What won't happen: Would it be such a surprise if Alexis Sanchez was relegated to the substitutes' bench? He hasn't just been disappointing for his new club, he's been dreadful. Big-money signing or not, there's a cup tie to be won.

Wigan vs Southampton (Sunday, 1.30pm)

The big talking point: Symmetry. Wigan obviously lost their Premier League status while (successfully) chasing the Premier League dream. Could the same fate befall Southampton?

What will happen: Mark Hughes will take charge of his first game as Southampton manager. Again, with an international break up and two weeks until the next Premier League fixture round, there's no need for any rotation; this is a club that needs to remember what it's like to win football games, whatever the competition, so Hughes will go full-strength from the off as he searches for some momentum.

What won't happen: There's a three-horse race at the top of League One and Wigan do have a game next weekend, but this will still be a cup final of sorts for their players. Wembley, after all, is still Wembley. Sometimes, though, teams that produce seismic shocks in one round of the cup can fall foul of an inferior opponent in the next game. Having upended Manchester City so dramatically - so famously - it would be very easy for Wigan to underestimate Southampton. Then again, maybe not? The Latics have already kicked out Bournemouth and West Ham to get this far.

Leicester vs Chelsea (Sunday, 4.30pm)

The big talking point: Still the simmering tensions between Antonio Conte and his board, which are unlikely to have eased since Wednesday night's Champions League exit.

What will happen: Chelsea actually played very well at the Camp Nou, even if the scoreline doesn't suggest it, but there's been a noticeable difference between their domestic and continental performances for a while. By contrast, Leicester are starting to flicker and ended a five-game winless run with a 4-1 rout at West Brom last weekend. Claude Puel's side are beginning to perform cohesively.

What won't happen: No respite for that fragile visiting back-line (and goalkeeper). Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are showing shades of their title-winning form, and that combination should take Leicester through to Wembley.

Premier League

Bournemouth vs West Brom (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: We're assuming that West Brom are already gone, so it's Bournemouth's bid for survival - which, should they win here, will be very much in reach.

What will happen: Eddie Howe's team played well against Tottenham and were unfortunate to be denied an equaliser late on. If they replicate that performance here, balancing sturdy defensive work with smart, incisive counter-attacks, they should brush off an increasingly desperate West Brom with little difficulty.

What won't happen: Still no Nacer Chadli or James Morrison for the visitors, with Daniel Sturridge and Gareth Barry also ruled out and Jonny Evans unlikely to be fit.

Huddersfield vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Wilfried Zaha's return to fitness. He was involved last week, but should start on Saturday. Huge for Palace, who are an entirely different side with their talisman.

What will happen: Huddersfield's inability to break down 10-man Swansea was deeply concerning - and it was really the story of their season (only West Brom have scored fewer goals). You'd expect them to struggle again here, against a side not only emboldened by Zaha's return but who will also welcome back Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mamadou Sakho.

What won't happen: Still, you wouldn't expect a clean sheet for either side. Palace, because they haven't kept one since January 13; and Huddersfield because, in spite of their flaws, Palace have only been held scoreless once in 2018.

Stoke vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: It's Stoke's survival bid, of course, but - eesh - are they even sending television cameras to this one?

What will happen: Stoke's greater need should tell. Everton's away record is dismal, they've lost their last five on the road outright, and relegation is no longer a threat. Added to which, Sam Allardyce will have to contend with a hefty list of absentees: Ashley Williams continues his suspension, which could be argued as a positive, but Idrissa Gueye, Theo Walcott and Morgan Schneiderlin are all unlikely to feature, and Gylfi Sigurdsson is estimated to be out for at least a month.

What won't happen: If Stoke take the lead, don't expect a fightback. It's that kind of game and Everton are in that sort of mood. To be cynical, the nature of some of their recent performances - with the exception of Brighton at home - suggests that some of these players are already dreaming of a post-Allardyce world.

Liverpool vs Watford (Saturday, 5.30pm)

The big talking point: WIth Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea all still involved in the FA Cup, this is an excellent chance for Liverpool to firm up their top-four position.

What will happen: Jordan Henderson should return, maybe even Nathaniel Clyne, and expect Adam Lallana to see some pitch minutes too, with Liverpool needing as many match-fit players as possible as they try to keep battling at home and in the Champions League.

What won't happen: On the evidence of what they produced at the Emirates Stadium, Watford appear to have reached that stage in their season. They're essentially safe, they know it, and that limp performance last Sunday was evidence of a drop-off. 

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