This weekend is the FA Cup Third Round. The FA Cup is the most prestigious cup tournament in the world and has been a competition since the 1871-72 season. At the third round, Premier League and Championship clubs enter the tournament and face the lower league and non-league teams that have made it this far. Below will be a preview of the round and predictions for each tie. Games are Saturday 9th January 2016 unless stated. I will preview the ties that pique my interest or provide something worthy of writing. Then the rest will be predictions at the bottom of the page.
Exeter City Vs Liverpool – St James Park, Exeter, Friday 8th January.
The first tie of the round is a battle of the minnow versus the giant as League 2 Exeter City face Premier League Liverpool for a place in the fourth round. This is the kind of tie that epitomises the FA Cup, both for the supporters of the teams and for the neutrals. Exeter City are coming into the game after four straight defeats in League 2. Liverpool have been in better form than their opponents with 3 wins in their last 4 games in all competitions. Despite Liverpool making 11 changes in their lineup I still believe they have more than enough to go to Exeter and win comfortably Prediction – Liverpool.
Wycombe Wanderers Vs Aston Villa – Adams Park, High Wycombe.
Another battle of League 2 versus Premier League. The teams have had different seasons. Wycombe sit 6th in League 2 after a good first half to their season with Villa propping up the Premier League in 20th and struggling with just 8 points for 20 games with only one victory. Wycombe have been in good form and with Villa losing to fellow relegation candidates, Sunderland, last Saturday. I am predicting an upset with Wycombe continuing Villa’s woes. Prediction – Wycombe.
West Bromwich Albion Vs Bristol City – The Hawthrons, West Bromwich.
Premier League Vs Championship. A game which I will be attending sat in the away with 5300 other Bristol City supporters. City have struggled all season with just 4 wins this season. The FA Cup could provide a suitable distraction from the struggles in the Championship. However with a skeleton of a squad it could be a long afternoon, after 2 heartbreaking injury times goals in back to back games there is reason for concern. West Brom, have been in decent form and are comfortably sat in the middle of the Premier League. With the opportunity to welcome back England International, Ben Foster after 10 months out. I believe that they will be too strong for the Championship Strugglers. Prediction – West Brom.
Chelsea Vs Scunthorpe United – Stamford Bridge, London, Sunday 10th January.
The 2014/15 Premier League champions going up against League One Scunthorpe United. You may think that this is an easy prediction for Chelsea, which is where I am leaning, but Chelsea were humbled by Bradford City, also of League One, at home in the FA Cup last season. The initial struggles under Mourinho are seemingly over and Guus Hiddink has started to turn things around. Scunthorpe have been in indifferent form with losses, wins and draws in their last few fixtures. They will have to keep Chelsea at bay and I believe their best chance of success will come if they manage to force a replay. However, Chelsea should be too strong for their League One foe. Prediction – Chelsea.
Eastleigh Vs Bolton Wanderers – Ten Acres, Eastleigh.
The last tie which will get a preview will see the real minnows of the FA Cup in action. The lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, currently in the National League, it provides a big story that the FA Cup seemingly loves. They face bottom of The Championship, Bolton Wanderers, who are facing financial struggles and will have to sell in order to continue without calling in the administrators. They will be without young starlet, Zach Clough (rumoured to be on his way out), and having to go to Eastleigh where the fans will be right up against the pitch. I am predicting my second upset of the preview. Prediction – Eastleigh.
Rest of the predictions: (Winners in Bold)
Watford v Newcastle United
West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Hartlepool United v Derby County
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City
Colchester United v Charlton Athletic
Peterborough United v Preston North End
Northampton Town v MK Dons
Arsenal v Sunderland
Newport County v Blackburn Rovers
Ipswich Town v Portsmouth
Birmingham City v AFC Bournemouth
Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham
Oxford United v Swansea City
Brentford v Walsall
Bury v Bradford City
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Everton v Dagenham and Redbridge
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Nottingham Forest v Queens Park Rangers
Carlisle United v Yeovil Town
Doncaster Rovers v Stoke City
Leeds United v Rotherham United
Cardiff City v Shrewsbury Town
Huddersfield Town v Reading
Middlesbrough v Burnley
Norwich City v Manchester City
Hull City v Brighton & Hove Albion