FA Cup third round: Things to look out for this weekend and best bet
The FA Cup has returned for Premier League (and Championship) clubs, as 20 teams from further down the pyramid battled multiple rounds to get this far.
With over 700 teams from all across England and a few Welsh sides taking part in this season’s competition, we have reached the 3rd round, the last 64. With that said, here are the five most fascinating ties for this round of the old English Cup.
Leicester City vs. Watford, Saturday 16:00
The Foxes enter this year’s FA Cup in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in their history, they will be the ones defending the title. In a fixture that seldom goes without some sort of last-minute thrills, Leicester’s defense of the cup will start at the King Power against a struggling Watford.
This also marks Claudio Ranieri’s second return to the East Midlands, leading his now-former employers to a first-ever Premier League title in 2016. While fans of Leicester will be sure to welcome him warmly, progression will still be essential as they hope to repeat a champions-winning run in the FA Cup.
Prediction: 1 – 1
Chelsea vs. Chesterfield, Saturday 18:30
While this is a highly lopsided match on paper, Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will host the number one side of the National League in one of Saturday’s later kickoffs.
With the visitors unbeaten in 13 matches since a 3-1 reverse to Woking back in September, it is no doubt that The Spireites will put everything on the line here. Of course, being losing finalists back in May, the Londoners will hope to return to Wembley and hoist the trophy this time around.
This is a first-ever meeting between the two, nearly 100 places apart in league football pre-match. Of course, anything less than a Chelsea victory will be nothing short of an upset for the ages.
Prediction: 4 – 0
Liverpool vs. Shrewsbury, Sunday 15:00
A repeat of a tie seen just two years ago, Shrewsbury will make the return to Merseyside, hoping to come out on the winning side this time around.
Two seasons ago, the Shrews were lucky enough to host Jurgen Klopp’s men, coming from 2 goals down at the New Meadow to force a replay. Of course, the Reds still managed to progress, but it was by no means a walk in the park.
Having had their EFL Cup tie against Arsenal postponed due to a combination of COVID and injuries gives Liverpool more time to recover more first-team players in time for the tie.
Prediction: 3 – 0
Nottingham Forest vs. Arsenal, Sunday 18:10
In another repeat tie from the last few seasons, Nottingham Forest will have the chance to host Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, hoping to create the same magic as four years ago.
Once a big name in football, The Tricky Trees have been Championship regulars for quite some time now, having not faced Arsenal in domestic football in a quarter-century; what was once a regular fixture in English football now has become a rarity.
With Arteta back on the sideline after another bout with COVID, Arsenal will hope to continue their positive form to see them through their Championship opposition.
Prediction: 1 – 2
Manchester United vs. Aston Villa, Monday 20:55
The last game to take place this round and one of three all-Premier League teams ties in this FA Cup round, the Red Devils will host Villa at Old Trafford in what could also be a cracker of a match.
Having already been successful at the Theater of Dreams this campaign, Steven Gerrard’s side will hope for a repeat performance in Manchester.
With 4 wins and 4 defeats since Gerrard’s arrival, it will be fascinating to see which Villa side turns up this turn. With off-field issues affecting the Red Devils, this could end badly for them if they do not sort out their problems with celerity.
Prediction: 1 – 1
While COVID continues to ravage squads, hopefully, all 32 games will take place this round. With some cracking ties this weekend combined with several underdog stories, the neutral viewer will have plenty of chances to see a “cupset” for ages potentially.
The full fixture list with dates and kickoff times of the FA Cup
FRIDAY 7 JANUARY 2022
• Swindon Town vs. Manchester City at 8 pm
SATURDAY 8 JANUARY 2022
• Bristol City vs. Fulham at 12.30 pm
• Burnley vs. Huddersfield Town at 12.30 pm
• Coventry City vs. Derby County at 12.30 pm
• Hartlepool United vs. Blackpool at 12.30 pm
• Mansfield Town vs. Middlesbrough at 12.15 pm
• Millwall vs. Crystal Palace at 12.45 pm
• Barnsley vs. Ipswich Town or Barrow at 3 pm
• Boreham Wood vs. AFC Wimbledon at 3 pm
• Kidderminster Harriers vs. Reading at 3 pm
• Leicester City vs. Watford at 3 pm
• Newcastle United vs. Cambridge United at 3 pm
• Peterborough United vs. Bristol Rovers at 3 pm
• Port Vale vs Brentford at 3pm
• Queens Park Rangers vs. Rotherham United at 3 pm
• West Bromwich Albion vs. Brighton & Hove Albion at 3 pm
• Wigan Athletic vs. Blackburn Rovers at 3 pm
• Birmingham City vs. Plymouth Argyle at 5.30 pm
• Chelsea vs. Chesterfield at 5.30 pm
• Hull City vs. Everton at 5.30 pm
• Swansea City vs. Southampton at 5.30 pm
• Yeovil Town vs. AFC Bournemouth at 5.45 pm
SUNDAY 9 JANUARY 2022
• Luton Town vs. Harrogate Town at 12:30 pm
• Cardiff City vs. Preston North End at 2 pm
• Charlton Athletic vs. Norwich City at 2 pm
• Liverpool vs. Shrewsbury Town at 2 pm
• Stoke City vs. Leyton Orient at 2 pm
• Tottenham Hotspur vs. Morecambe at 2 pm
• Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sheffield United at 2 pm
• West Ham United vs. Leeds United at 2 pm
• Nottingham Forest vs. Arsenal at 5.10 pm
MONDAY 10 JANUARY 2022
• Manchester United vs. Aston Villa at 7.55 pm