Aussies Abroad Preview: Irvine eyeing potential Chelsea cupset

Jackson Irvine is eyeing a cupset of epic proportions when Hull City tackle Premier League powerhouse Chelsea in the FA Cup.

The Tigers are anticipating the largest cup crowd in the club’s history when they host Frank Lampard’s star-studded Blues at KCOM Stadium on Sunday morning (4:30am AEDT).

Currently sitting twelfth in the Championship, the Tigers are - on paper at least - expected to have a tough time against a Chelsea side currently sitting fourth in the top flight.

History is also against the Yorkshire-based club, with Chelsea winning all ten previous FA Cup meetings between the sides – their last meeting in the competition seeing the Blues advance 4-0 in 2018.

However, despite Irvine’s side's bumpy form in the Championship - falling short in their last two league matches - anything can happen in the cut-throat setting of cup competition.

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Also eyeing an advance to the FA Cup Fifth Round is Kenneth Dougall when his Barnsley side travel to Portsmouth on Sunday at 2:00am AEDT

The midfielder has been a regular starter for Gerhard Struber’s team in recent weeks and played a full 90 minutes in their last round 3-1 FA Cup win over Crewe Alexandra.

The match marks an opportunity for the Tykes to recapture much-needed form after dropping their last two matches in the Championship, where they sit inside the relegation zone in 22nd position.

Brad Smith’s AFC Bournemouth are also in FA Cup action when they welcome Arsenal to the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday at 7:00am AEDT.

Wright awaits debut for new club in League One

Bailey Wright could make his debut for Sunderland on Saturday at 6:45am AEDT as the Black Cats host Doncaster Rovers in League One.

The defender, who has endured an injury-riddled season, moved to the promotion aspirants mid-week on loan from parent club Bristol City as he seeks game time ahead FIFA World Cup qualifiers and June’s 2020 Copa America.

Bailey Wright
NEW LOOK: Bailey Wright has moved on loan to Sunderland

Sunderland are undefeated in their last seven League One fixtures to move into the promotion frame in sixth position but face a tricky test against the tenth-placed Rovers, who, along with the Black Cats, have conceded an equal league-best 24 goals this season.

Elsewhere in League One, Harry Souttar will be aiming to turn around Fleetwood Town’s recent form dip against Bristol Rovers in their mid-table clash at 2am AEDT on Sunday.

Fleetwood are without a win in their last four league matches in a run that has also seen Souttar’s team be eliminated from two cup competitions.

Meanwhile in the Championship, Adam Federici and his Stoke City teammates will be eyeing an important three points at home as they continue to seek safety from relegation against Swansea City at 2am AEDT on Sunday.

Stoke have won three of their past five matches in the Championship to move out of the bottom three and could move seven points clear of the drop zone with victory against the Swans.

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It’s heating up for Socceroos in Scotland

Tomas Rogic will be eyeing a return to action for Celtic when they tackle Ross County in the Scottish Premier League at Celtic Park on Sunday at 2am AEDT.

Rogic was rested for the Hoops' midweek league clash with Kilmarnock after playing a key role in the side’s Fourth Round Scottish Cup tie with Partick Thistle last weekend – having a hand in both goals in his side’s 2-1 win.

Another win against Ross County will see Celtic hold their lead over rivals Rangers in the race for the Scottish league title with just two points currently separating the sides.

Staying in Scotland, Martin Boyle and his Hibernian side will tackle Motherwell at Fir Park, also on Sunday at 2am AEDT.

A win for Hibs could see them move up to fifth on the table and Boyle will be eager to impress with speculation in the Scottish press this week linking him with a move to join Rogic and fellow Aussie Daniel Arzani at Celtic.

Boyle was in outstanding form mid-week as he set-up both goals in his side's 2-1 win over over Hamilton Academical.

League action right across Europe

On the continent, Brandon Borello and his SC Freiburg teammates will be out to avoid a slip-up in the Bundesliga when they host bottom-of-the-table Paderborn on Sunday at 1:30am AEDT.

Borello was an unused substitute for Freiburg in their return to Bundesliga duties last weekend – a 2-1 win over Mainz.

The seventh-placed Freiburg are currently in the midst of their second-best ever Bundesliga campaign, with their current points tally of 29 their best return at this stage of a German top flight season in 25 years.

Aziz Behich will be looking to help his İstanbul Başakşehir bounce back following a mid-week cup exit when they make the short trip to face local rivals Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Süper Lig on Sunday at 4am AEDT.

Başakşehir were eliminated from the Turkish Cup by Kırklarelispor on away goals mid-week but remain firmly in the hunt for league honours.

Başakşehir currently sit second in the Turkish top flight and could move within a point of top spot with a win over the fourth-placed Fenerbahçe.

Elsewhere, Ajdin Hrustic returns to action in the Eredivisie when his Groningen side welcome traditional Dutch powerhouse Ajax Amsterdam to the Euroborg on Monday at 12:30am AEDT.

The match will mark a solid test for the tenth-placed Groningen, with Ajax forging ahead in the league with a six point lead atop the standings.

Ajdin Hrustic
EREDIVISIE: Ajdin Hrustic's Groningen tackle Ajax Amsterdam this weekend

Meanwhile, Trent Sainsbury is also looking to keep the pressure on the league leaders in the Israel Premier League when his second-placed Maccabi Haifa side travel to Bnei Yehuda at 5:15am AEDT Tuesday.

Haifa currently sit four points off top spot in the competition behind Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

While in Denmark, teams in the Superliga are shaking off the snow from the winter break with Awer Mabil’s Midtjylland side in action against Silkeborg in a friendly.

In Asia, Craig Goodwin and his Al-Wehda side are looking to bounce back from a last start defeat when they head to Al-Hazm in the Saudi Pro League on Saturday at 3:10am AEDT.

A win for Al-Wehda could see them move as high as fourth in the league standings with Goodwin likely to play a key role after starting his side’s last three matches.

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Big Blue looms large in Hyundai A-League

Sydney FC’s Andrew Redmayne and Rhyan Grant renew rivalries with Melbourne Victory 7:30pm AEDT on Friday night in the 52nd instalment of the Big Blue.

Grant returns from suspension for the league-leading Sky Blues, who return from last weekend’s bye and seeking to further a 10-game unbeaten streak and an eight-point lead atop the Hyundai A-League.
 

 Elsewhere, Jamie Maclaren and his Melbourne City teammates will be in action on Saturday night in a second-v-third clash against Perth Glory at AAMI Park at 7:30pm AEDT.

While, on Sunday, Josh Risdon will line-up for Western United at Whitten Oval when they tackle Adelaide United at 6pm AEDT.