Talking point: Will the magic of the FA Cup affect promotion hopefuls?
For Championship promotion candidates, is this the worst season to remain in the FA Cup? QPR, Cardiff City, Norwich City and Leeds United are all out of the competition but the likes of Watford, Swansea City and Nottingham Forest remain. Given how competitive the division is this year, will that prove a help or hindrance?
On one hand, you could argue that momentum is the most important factor of all in bringing about a successful second half of the season. The feelgood factor around the City Ground, for example, at the moment can only improve if Forest can knock out Premier League strugglers West Ham United in the fourth round.
Swansea, meanwhile, have an eminently winnable home tie with Leyton Orient – conquerors of Norwich in the previous round – up next. Win that and there is a fifth round game to look forward to.
The FA Cup is still a prestigious competition and the likes of Millwall and Southampton have proven in recent years that lower league sides can go far to provide supporters with magnificent memories.
But with fixture pile-up an increasing concern and the prospect of the cold snap returning ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, are extra games the last thing that teams need? So many at the top of the Championship can now concentrate on the league and a week off for tiring legs after a busy festive period might be as good as a new signing for some teams, particularly those that do not rotate very often.
Whether your team is still in the FA Cup or not, leave your comments below about the importance you place on the competition.