The week after a draining FA Cup match can often throw up a few surprises.
Even the best and most well-prepared teams have floundered against lesser league opponents on the back of a stirring cup fixture.
The extra effort required in a one-off cup tie leaves its mark on players, whether it be mental or physical lethargy.
At this stage of the season, a slip-up can be costly. Three points now can be the difference between a place or two, but it's the associated confidence a climb up the table brings which can be invaluable to a manager looking to energise the group.
|2013/14 Premier League Week 23 Predictions|
|Crystal Palace vs. Hull City||Jan 28||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||1-0|
|Liverpool vs. Everton||Jan 28||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||2-2|
|Manchester United vs. Cardiff City||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||3-1|
|Norwich City vs. Newcastle United||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||0-3|
|Southampton vs. Arsenal||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-2|
|Swansea City vs. Fulham||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||2-1|
|Aston Villa vs. West Brom||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-1|
|Chelsea vs. West Ham||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||5-0|
|Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||2-3|
|Sunderland vs. Stoke City||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-0|
Sunderland vs. Stoke City
Mark Hughes' Stoke side are likely to be ripe for the picking in the north-east.
The long journey to Sunderland comes on the back of what is sure to be a gruelling trip to Stamford Bridge, with Hughes keen to progress to the next round at the expense of one of his old clubs, Chelsea.
Even taking into account that Hughes' troops are always ready for the battle, former team-mate Gus Poyet's Sunderland will be more than up for the fight.
The Black Cats currently sit joint bottom of the pile along with Cardiff City and West Ham United, and three points would bring them to within a whisker of Stoke, with all to play for moving forward.
It's also abundantly clear that Sunderland are the form team of the two at present. Stoke have lost four of the last half dozen whilst Poyet's exuberance has rubbed off on a team who have lost just once in the same time frame.
Wes Brown's red card the last time the two met ensured that the points stayed in the Potteries, but it's likely to be a different story this time, with in-form striker Fabio Borini the man to watch.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-0 Stoke City
Swansea City vs. Fulham
Another side with two tiring away trips in the space of a few days are Rene Meulensteen's Fulham. A long haul to Wales is not what the doctor ordered after an FA Cup tie against Sheffield United.
The Cottagers have never really recovered from the dismal start under Martin Jol and the Londoners find themselves just a point above the drop zone.
With only 22 goals to show for their 22 Premier League games, it's obvious where their deficiencies lie and a move for West Ham's Ravel Morrison therefore comes as no surprise.
Swansea have had a very poor season considering the standards that were set in the last campaign. It's hard to fathom why Michael Laudrup's side find themselves languishing just two points and two places above their visitors.
Their brand of football is pleasing on the eye and in Jonjo Shelvey, the Swans have a young Englishman who is a game-changer on his day.
Shelvey embodies the Laudrup ethic perfectly. A tireless worker in the middle of the park with an accurate short or long passing game, he is likely to be the difference in this match.
Fulham's Scott Parker is a mirror image, but age is no longer on his side, and both he and fellow central midfielder Steve Sidwell will do well to contain Shelvey's foraging for the full 90 minutes.
Prediction: Swansea City 2-1 Fulham
Crystal Palace vs. Hull City
Against a backdrop of incessant protests over a changing of the club name, Steve Bruce has steered Hull City into a respectable 11th place in the Premier League.
No singing or dancing, just good old-fashioned hard work. Here is a team in Bruce's own image and a recent win over Brendan Rodgers' much-lauded Liverpool side showed that the Tigers are no mugs.
A long trip to the Essex coast and a cup tie against minnows Southend United await Bruce and his men, followed by another lengthy excursion to London to take on a revitalised Crystal Palace side.
Tony Pulis has never been renowned for playing pretty football, but his teams have a habit of getting results. Only one defeat at home since the end of October is evidence enough that Selhurst Park is becoming something of a fortress.
Three points will draw the Eagles level with their opponents so you can be sure that Pulis will have his XI primed and ready.
It might be ugly at times, but this will be as absorbing a contest as any other played this week.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City
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