The FA Cup returns this weekend with a number of matches that football fans can look forward to.
The world’s oldest competition kicks off on Friday night with two all Premier League ties in store. First up, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side travel to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa. Villa will be without all of their first team players and manager Dean Smith for Friday night’s match due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the midlands’ club training ground. They will field their youth team against what will be a much-changed Liverpool outfit.
At the same time on Friday, 2019 semi-finalists Wolves take on 2016 runners-up Crystal Palace. Both sides may view this competition as a realistic opportunity to claim a major trophy. With neither club in threat of relegation nor unlikely to mount a European challenge, the FA Cup may revive both teams seasons that otherwise look destined to finish in mid-table obscurity.
There are six games set to take place at lunchtime on Saturday. The pick of the early kick offs is undoubtedly Everton’s home game with Championship side Rotherham. Carlo Ancelotti’s team go in search of their first trophy since 1995 when they defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup Final. Ancelotti won this trophy in 2010 with Chelsea and will be hoping to claim a second medal with ‘The Toffees’ eleven years on.
The bulk of the ties take place at three o’clock on Saturday. There is a London derby to look forward to when Fulham make the short trip to Loftus Road to face Championship side Queens Park Rangers. Both sides will not be overly concerned with the FA Cup this year as they are embroiled in relegation battles in their respective divisions.
Holders Arsenal begin their defence of the trophy with a home tie against fellow Premier League rivals Newcastle United on Saturday evening. Mikel Arteta will be hoping that ‘The Gunners’ can go on a similar run in this year’s competition as they did in 2020 which saw them beat Manchester City and Chelsea on their way to becoming the champions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins the search for his first piece of silverware as Manchester United manager when ‘The Red Devils’ take on Watford at Old Trafford on Saturday night. United suffered defeat in the semi-final of this competition in 2020 and last won the trophy in 2016. Watford have had relative success in the FA Cup in recent years, having made the semi-finals in 2016 and going one step further in 2019 when they lost 8-0 to Manchester City in the final.
The tie of the round takes place on Sunday when Jose Mourinho and Tottenham will shack up at Northern Premier League Division One North West Marine for an encounter that embodies everything that makes this famous old competition so special. Tottenham go into the tie on the back of making the Carabao Cup final in midweek after they comfortably dispatched of Brentford at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. This tie represents the biggest gap between divisions in any fixture in the history of the FA Cup.
The final game of this round will see Stockport County host David Moyes’ West Ham. Moyes is still searching for his first trophy in English football, having failed to turn performances into trophies at Preston, Everton, Manchester United or during his first spell at West Ham.
FA Cup third round fixtures
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Everton v Rotherham
Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City
Boreham Wood v Milwall
Luton Town v Reading
Norwich City v Coventry City
Chorley v Derby County (12:15)
Oldham Athletic v Bournemouth
Stevenage v Swansea City
Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United
Blackburn Rovers v Doncaster Rovers
Stoke City v Leicester City
Wycombe Wanderers v Preston North End
Burnley v MK Dons
QPR v Fulham
Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday
Blackpool v West Brom
Arsenal v Newcastle United
Huddersfield Town v Plymouth Argyle (18:00)
Brentford v Middlesbrough (18:00)
Manchester United v Watford (20:00)
Barnsley v Tranmere Rovers
Crawley Town v Leeds United
Bristol City v Portsmouth
Manchester City v Birmingham City
Chelsea v Morecambe
Cheltenham Town v Mansfield town
Marine v Tottenham Hotspur (17:00)
Newport County v Brighton (19:45)
Stockport County v West Ham United