Does this weekend's FA Cup action affect the top of the Premier League?

Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton all won their ties, while Chelsea and Liverpool bowed out with Tottenham looking on from the sidelines.

In the context of the season, has this weekend been massive for the top sides chasing the Premier League title and Champions League places?

For two sides you could argue it's one less distraction as that avenue for potential silverware has been closed off for another season; with both Chelsea and Liverpool’s hopes of lifting the FA Cup in May now extinguished.

Manchester City’s hopes of lifting all four trophies on offer to them this season is alive while Arsenal managed to put the disappointment of the previous week behind him. There will be the issue of fixture congestion if the City bandwagon keeps on rolling, although plenty of people will point to the fact their squad is littered with star names that would get into several other top sides.

So, for the rest of the season, where does it leave all the sides competing for Champions League qualification and the title?

If you ask Jose Mourinho, he’d probably say that Liverpool are even bigger favourites to lift the Premier League title in May given that the league campaign is going to take up all of Liverpool’s time and resources. A four-point gap is what Liverpool have, and with just the 12 games to play for the rest of the season, the logic says they should be fresh enough to mount a challenge to overhaul the three sides above them who have other distractions.

For Mourinho and his Chelsea side, as much as he talks about the evolution of the team and how they may not be candidates to lift either of the Premier League or Champions League this season, he must really fancy his chances of making a trophy-winning return to Chelsea.

His side are currently top of the table, he has strength in depth and his side are favourites to go through in the Champions League. Though once you get to the quarter-final stage of the competition, it seems that every game will be that little more difficult.

Arsenal have three distractions, or chances to win a trophy depending in which light you would like to view their situation at the moment. Their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich could potentially take a lot out of them, yet we knew that anyway. Being drawn against Everton in the FA Cup as they embark on another difficult run of fixtures in the process that could potentially define their season, they may have wanted a kinder draw in that regard.

But if Arsenal had gone out of the competition yesterday there would have been even more murmurs of having a February meltdown, or whether the side had the stomach for the fight at the business-end of the season. So the fact they got through could aid them in the other competitions rather than hinder them.

The interesting one is those that are probably regarded as out of the title picture, even if some feel they shouldn’t be. Tottenham were knocked out in the third-round by Arsenal and have had time off, and with Tim Sherwood saying he is looking to finish fourth he perhaps wanted Liverpool to remain in the competition to at least have something else to think about while Spurs restart their Europa League campaign this week.

Everton are pursuing their first trophy for 19 years under Roberto Martinez, and they would no doubt welcome the distraction. The cup competitions seem to bring out the best in the Toffees’ boss of late and it is a challenge he will relish by trying to get the club into the Champions League and becoming the first Everton boss to bring silverware to Goodison Park since Joe Royle.

Only time will tell, but while the victors are now dreaming of Wembley, it's not all doom and gloom for the rest.

image: © flawka

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