Will Bradford inspire gaffers to be gung-ho? Can Leeds live without Becchio? And Brentford's ballboys fear Chelsea's arrival
How many managers will take inspiration from Bradford City and think that rather than rotate their squad this weekend to concentrate on consolidating a league position, they should go full gun for FA Cup success just for the sheer glory of it? Go on, gaffers, who dares wins. Or at least is worth paying to watch.
The flip side of Bradford's triumph was Aston Villa's torment. How will having an open invitation to a cup final deftly plucked from their hands by supposed urchins from the fourth tier affect Villa for the remainder of the season? Would being dumped out of a cup for the second time in a week by lower-league opposition fatally undermine their Premier League survival bid? Do they have to progress in the FA Cup in order to help consolidate their precarious league position and Paul Lambert's job? Millwall rarely score from corners: anyone want to bet against them doing so at home on Friday night?
Leeds have sort of staggered through the season and the one thing that supporters and Neil Warnock all agree on is that the club need reinforcements in January if they are to put together a proper promotion charge. Instead they could go into the tie against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday grievously weakened, as Luciano Becchio has asked to be allowed to join one of the several clubs seeking his services.
The Argentinian has hit 19 goals this season – no one else at Leeds has even come close to double figures. Will Warnock play him against Tottenham knowing that if he doesn't, Leeds's already slim chances of winning will become emaciated (especially as the Everton loanee Ross Barkley is not allowed play either), and if he does and plays well, Becchio's transfer fee may be bumped up? And if the 29-year-old is sold, will Warnock be given funds to recruit from anywhere other than the same bargain bin that he has been rummaging through for the past 11 months or will money remain mysteriously tight at Elland Road?
Trying to second-guess Gus Poyet's team selection is an activity even more hazardous than acting the goat while working as a ballboy at Swansea, and it'll be fascinating to see what approach he decides to take against Arsenal on Saturday. Will he choose this home Cup tie to begin nurturing the potential formidable striking partnership between Craig Mackail-Smith and new signing Leonardo Ulloa? And what point will he introduce Vicente, who, alongside the tidy Liam Bridcutt, could exploit any slackness that Arsenal may show. But surely Arsène Wenger will not allow his last chance for a trophy this season to be undermined by slackness, or nervous, or over-confidence, or a handbrake that is stuck in the "on" position, or any of the many other strange ailments from which his strange team seem to suffer?
All eyes at Griffin Park on Sunday will be on the eight-year-old spectator Jasper Horlix, or the 73-year-old Cypriot kitman Mutatis Mutandis, or the 34-year-old reserve scoreboard operator Philomena Quickley – it's impossible to say for sure who will be the next victim of evil Premier League problem club Chelsea, who, if some hysterical sorts are to be believed, are hellbent on marauding across the football landscape leaving nothing but havoc and earnest hand-wringing in their wake.
All of which should not be allowed to overshadow the wonderful job done at Brentford by Uwe Rösler, who may just be about to preside over one of the great Cup shocks in addition to guiding the Bees to the verge of being in the second tier for the first time since they were relegated in 1993.
Luis Suárez and Chelsea would probably be considered the perfect fit by some people and, indeed, Liverpool fans must be worried that some wealthy club will try to lure their magnificent striker away. But until then, there is a potentially superb partnership to be nurtured so perhaps Brendan Rodgers will use the trip to Boundary Park on Sunday to fine tune the Suárez/Daniel Sturridge partnership? Or, more likely, the manager will give the Uruguayan a rest, now that he actually can.
Paul Dickov, meanwhile, has problems: his team have lost seven of their past eight matches in League One and are without the experienced Dean Furman and speedy Cristian Montaño. In a rare bit of good news for the club, last week Dickov managed to convince Jose Baxter to sign a two-and-a-half-year contract, meaning that if there is a player that everyone is talking about after the game, it may just be the 20-year-old scouse striker.
More than 2,000 Wigan fans – yes, really! – have bought tickets for Moss Rose on Saturday and they will surely be hoping that Roberto Martínez does not rest 11 players as Malky Mackay did in the last round when the non-league side upset Cardiff City. The home crowd will perhaps take this as their opportunity to thank Steve King, who was a hugely unpopular appointment last summer but has guided the Silkmen into the fourth round of the Cup for the first time in their history … and may be about to take them even further.
When Danny Hylton was sent off for an alleged elbow on Rotherham United's Jason Taylor in the last round – just after scoring a hat-trick – it seemed Aldershot would have to go to Middlesbrough on Saturday without their top scorer.
But the club pulled out all the stops to make sure that Hylton served his suspension before the Cup tie, bringing forward their League Two game against Northampton Town and pleading with groundsmen to perform miracles to prevent postponements. Hylton even got out a snow shovel himself on Tuesday to help ensure the Northampton game went ahead but his real work begins at the Riverside, when the player who has already scored seven goals in this season's Cup will be determined to add to that tally.
Norwich City are seeking a new striker or two. Trusty Grant Holt is looking rusty. He has scored only four goals in the Premier League and there is talk – rubbished by Norwich – of him moving to help smooth through a move for someone younger and seemingly more able to arrest Norwich's worrying slide. Perhaps Luton Town will feel the wrath of a 31-year-old eager to prove he can still be a potent force. Or perhaps Chris Hughton will rest a player who, as things stand, is still the club's best forward and has only recently returned from hamstring trouble. If so, Luton may just fancy their chances of giving the Canaries the Wolves' treatment at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Seven years ago these teams were promoted to the Premier League together. Both went down after that and while Reading bounced back, Sheffield United kept falling. Until a month ago they seemed well on course to begin their climb back with promotion to the Championship but failure to win any of their past four matches has caused nerves to jangle again at Bramall Lane: what better way to regain momentum than by beating a Premier League team? But Reading know the importance of momentum, too – their recent sequence of come-from-behind wins began in the Cup at Crawley – so Saturday's tie at the Madejski Stadium will be a contest in which no quarter will be given. Good.
• This article was amended on 25 January 2013 because the original said Brentford had not reached the second tier for nearly 60 years.