Manchester City and Arsenal seek revenge in the FA Cup
After surprise league defeats against Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively, both teams looking to bounce back strongly
Agence France-Presse in London
It may be Valentine's weekend, but it is revenge, rather than romance, that is in the air ahead of the weekend's FA Cup fifth-round matches, as four of England's biggest teams face off.
Manchester City host Premier League title rivals Chelsea today, with Arsenal tackling Liverpool tomorrow, and both ties carry extra intrigue because of recent encounters involving their respective protagonists.
Chelsea took control of the title race with a 1-0 victory at City on February 3, while Arsenal's own championship ambitions were ruthlessly undermined in a chastening 5-1 defeat at Anfield last weekend.
Liverpool's 3-2 win at Fulham on Wednesday means that just four points now separate the four teams at the head of the table, with Chelsea leading the way and the club from Merseyside bringing up the rear.
Liverpool's victory over Arsenal may have left deep scars, with the London club's manager Arsene Wenger admitting after a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Wednesday that his players had become "nervous".
Wenger saw his side's defence breached four times in the first 20 minutes at Anfield, but Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes there is no chance of a repeat at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
"You can't say you saw the real Arsenal at Anfield. You have to judge us over a longer period of time," said the Poland international keeper.
"People have seen the real Arsenal over the last year. We conceded five on Saturday, but our defensive record over the last year or so has been amazing."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has warned his teammates that Arsenal will not display the same generosity when the teams resume hostilities.
"Top sides, when they get beat 5-1, they are hurt," said the England midfielder, who gave his side victory at Fulham with a nerveless injury-time penalty.
"We're expecting a tight game at the Emirates and I think the 5-1 game will have no bearing on this game coming. We're expecting a really tough game."
City had an unwanted night off on Wednesday after their home match with League Cup final opponents Sunderland was postponed owing to high winds.
They will be doubly eager to return to action on Saturday, having seen their 100 per cent home record in the league this season ended by Chelsea less than two weeks ago.
Chelsea are unlikely to return to the Etihad Stadium with quite the same swagger, however. Jose Mourinho's side let slip an opportunity to extend their lead in the Premier League after drawing 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday and could be missing John Terry and Gary Cahill because of injury.
Mourinho, however, would not be distracted yesterday from his ongoing war of words with Wenger.
Mourinho responded to comments earlier in the day from the Arsenal manager, who said the Portuguese's recent remarks about Chelsea not being seriously in the title race betrayed a "fear of failure".
The Portuguese alluded to his counterpart's lack of silverware since winning the 2005 FA Cup, by saying: "He [Wenger] is a specialist in failure. I'm not. If supposedly he is right and I'm afraid to fail, it's because I haven't failed many times.
"The reality is he is a specialist. Eight years without a piece of silverware, that's failure."
There are two other all-Premier League ties in the last 16. Sunderland host Southampton, while Everton manager Roberto Martinez comes up against his former club, Swansea City.
Holders Wigan Athletic visit Cardiff City, while third-tier Sheffield United host Championship team Nottingham Forest.