Weekend Wanderings: Shocks, ‘cupsets’ and Victor Moses

After a midweek where the return of the Champions League was the main attraction, it’s time for the attention to turn back to domestic action across Europe.

The upcoming weekend sees the return of the men’s and women’s FA Cup and there are a number of important match-ups in the lower leagues as well.

Here are the games you should be keeping an eye on this weekend.

1) Is this the end of the road for Newport County?

After pulling off back-to-back FA-Cup shocks – first dumping out Leicester before Middlesbrough – League Two Newport County have been rewarded with a home tie in the fifth round.

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But their chances of advancing any further in the competition look to be virtually impossible.

Visitors Manchester City are in a league of their own and fresh from beating Chelsea 6-0.

Michael Flynn’s side have been impressive in the competition so far and are unlikely to roll over, if at all. Flynn will be determined to make life difficult for City.

There is also something strangely compelling about watching City’s multi-million-pound squad take to the field at Rodney Parade, home to one of the worst pitches in the Football League. We’ll see whether they can handle the environment.

2) Who comes out on top in a battle of the WSL giants?

It shouldn’t be forgotten that this weekend is also the fifth round in the women’s FA Cup and there is a real heavyweight tie among the fixture list.

On Sunday, Chelsea take on Arsenal, meaning one of the WSL powerhouses will be exiting the competition early.

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Chelsea’s form has been indifferent, but they can draw inspiration from their impressive comeback against Manchester City in their last league outing.

Arsenal are still in pole position for the WSL title – they sit second but have two games in hand– but let’s not forget Chelsea managed to beat Arsenal 2-1 back on 13 January.

With two quality sides going head to head it’s sure to be an entertaining watch at Kingsmeadow.

3) Can Aston Villa gain some ground in the West Midlands derby?

Everyone loves a derby game with a hint of added spice and in the Championship Aston Villa take on near neighbours West Brom on Saturday.

Darren Moore’s side are going into the fixture after being held by Nottingham Forest, meaning they’ve won one of their last seven at home.

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Fortunately for them they are firing away from the Hawthorns and that could be important at Villa Park this Saturday afternoon.

Aston Villa, meanwhile have drawn three and lost one of their last five and need to start picking up consistent wins if they are to close that gap on the playoff spots.

Either way, this is sure to be a very interesting watch.

4) Can Notts County boost their survival hopes with another shock win?

This time last year all seemed well at Notts County with the club fighting for promotion under manager Kevin Nolan.

Ultimately last year’s fifth-placed side failed to get promoted to League One but not many people would have thought this season would be as calamitous as it has turned out to be.

Notts County are rooted to the bottom of the table and are on their third manager of the season – Nolan was fired in August after a six-game winless run, Harry Kewell lasted a matter of weeks and current boss Neal Ardley joined in November after he parted company with AFC Wimbledon.

What’s more, on 27 January, owner Alan Hardy put the club up for sale.

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However, despite the on-pitch product being abject for most of the season there are still glimmers of hope for League Two’s basement club following a shock win against Forest Green last week, just the fifth victory of the season for County.

Could they pull off another shock victory this weekend? Well they will need to be at their best once more as they host second-placed Mansfield Town.

David Flitcroft’s team is still looking to catch leaders Lincoln City and after suffering a loss to Newport County will want to put things right straight away.

Two teams who are desperate for points for very different reasons.

5) What’s occurring with Fenerbahce?

Turkish football isn’t often mentioned in this piece but this time we’re making an exception.

You don’t have to be an expert to know that Fenerbahce are one of the country’s biggest teams, but this season something strange is afoot.

The team we are so used to seeing at the top of the table and fighting in European competition is currently in a relegation battle.

Despite having the likes of Martin Skrtel, Islam Slimani, Andre Ayew and recently acquired Chelsea loanee Victor Moses, the Istanbul side is 14th in the Turkish Super Lig, one point above the relegation zone.

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While they are still competing in the Europa League this season and enjoyed a 1-0 win over Zenit on Tuesday night, their domestic form is a real worry.

This Saturday they play sixth-placed Konyaspor with every point crucial if they are to avoid an unthinkable relegation.

Could Victor Moses be the missing piece in the jigsaw?

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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