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FA Cup: Harriers eye another FA Cup shock

Kidderminster, the lowest-ranked side left in the FA Cup, are aiming to spring another surprise when hosting West Ham next.

A massive 112 places in the football pyramid separate National League North side Kidderminster from Premier League outfit West Ham, but that hasn't stopped the 16/1 Harriers from believing they can write their own unforgettable chapter in the history of this greatest of knockout competitions.

The Worcestershire side thought they'd played their own cup final in round three when they were paired with ex-Premier League side and Championship mainstay Reading.

But having beheaded the Royals 2-1 courtesy of goals from Sam Austin and Amari Morgan-Smith, their dreams of drawing a big fish were more than answered when West Ham's ball followed theirs out of the hat for round four.

Russ Penn's men, formidable at home where they haven't lost for four months, will know non-league sides have twice toppled Premier League sides in the FA Cup. Luton stunned Norwich nine years ago and more recently Lincoln famously won at Burton.

But Luton and Lincoln were fifth tier; Kidderminster are sixth. This would trump the pair of those by some distance.

And West Ham are no lower-half top-flight outfit, either. David Moyes' men, nicely rested after a couple of weeks off, still have top-four aspirations, despite losing their two matches immediately prior to the winter break.

But there's an impatience around the club with supporters clamouring to reach another major final, to win a piece of silverware. They've won nothing of note for four decades so this group of players, playing so well and gifted an outstanding opportunity to make the last 16, is under pressure to deliver.

West Ham's recent history isn't littered with cup shocks but the likes of Michail Antonio (a doubt after arriving back late from international duty), Arthur Masuaku, Issa Diop and Mark Noble won't forget the 4-2 defeat suffered at Wimbledon three years ago.

It's interesting that the Hammers have won five of their last eight FA Cup ties to nil – that's a 10/11 chance – while both teams not to score has copped in 10 of their last 11 in this competition and it could be worth looking into that market, even though Harriers' chief Penn is apparently sending his side out with a "go for it" mentality.

And who's to say that skipper Austin or Morgan-Smith can't be their heroes once again. Former Crewe youngster Morgan-Smith – who has an FA Cup hat-trick to his name, bagged when representing Luton against St Albans 12 years ago – is 16/1 to open the scoring while Austin is a 25/1 shot.

Argyle braced for day to remember at the Bridge

Plymouth are one of the real big outsiders of the weekend, heading to Stamford Bridge to take on mighty Chelsea as a 20/1 shot. Worth a punt?

The gulf might not be quite as wide as Kidderminster and West Ham, but as an illustration of the different beasts these two are try this: Chelsea have lost just four games all season, to West Ham, Juventus and twice to Manchester City. Plymouth have lost four times since the end of November, to Wigan, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Lincoln. We are talking very different levels of competition.

"A bit daunting", is how Argyle chief Steven Schumacher describes the challenge of preparing a team to take on the European champions.

This is Schumacher's first full-time management role and he only got the gig in December. Just a few weeks later he's being charged with the job of outfoxing Thomas Tuchel.

They did win at Birmingham in the last round, the same stage at which Chelsea battered Chesterfield 5-1 with a frontline of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic. A penny for the thoughts of Plymouth centre-back Dan Scarr.

Knockout kings Hartlepool can give Vieira food for thought

Hartlepool also head for London with a 22/1 quote alongside them, their destination Selhurst Park to shackle Crystal Palace.

Everything points to a Palace win, available at 1/8, while it is 4/7 for the Eagles to win to nil. They are 4/6 to score in both halves and EVS to win both halves. Vieira will send out a strong side though Wilfried Zaha will be missing, either to the delight of a League Two side who don't want to be embarrassed or the disappointment of someone who could have nabbed his shirt at the end.

Not that Hartlepool will be thinking negatively. Just look at their cup record this season. Graeme Lee's men have played eight teams from higher divisions in the cups this term, winning five inside 90 minutes and two more on penalties.

Saints looking to give Robins the blues

Two Premier League teams are at home to Championship sides in potentially tricky affairs.

You'd presume Man City win every game they play these days but they'll be well aware Fulham are flying, though at 14/1, clearly not expected to trouble Pep Guardiola's men.

Coventry, on the other hand, are far shorter heading for St Mary's to take on Southampton.

These are two clubs whose recent histories have been pretty much defined by their lone FA Cup wins and Saints' fans in particular are impatient for the current crop to be finding a way back to Wembley.

But 5/1 shots Coventry will be well aware that Southampton made hard work of eclipsing Swansea a round ago and have registered just two 90-minute wins in their last 12 matches.

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