Steven Gerrard looks to pile more misery on old rivals Man United, four non-League sides hope to be giant-killers as Chesterfield go to Chelsea, and Shrewsbury head for Anfield (again!)… 10 things to look out for on FA Cup third round weekend
- It’s FA Cup third round weekend as league action takes a back seat
- National League leaders Chesterfield have the plum tie as they head to Chelsea
- Boreham Wood, Yeovil and Kidderminster also fly the flag for non-League
- Steven Gerrard is sure of a frosty reception as he takes on Manchester United
- Shrewsbury Town will hope to take advantage of Liverpool’s Covid problems
- Millwall, Hull and Swansea among the EFL clubs hoping to cause an upset
It’s always one of the highlights of the football calendar and the FA Cup third round weekend is now upon us as league action takes a back seat.
Boreham Wood, Chesterfield, Yeovil Town and Kidderminster Harriers will fly the flag for the non-League as the Premier League and Championship clubs enter the fray on the road to Wembley.
The draw has certainly thrown up some mouth-watering ties and here’s 10 things you should look out for over the third-round weekend.
The FA Cup takes centre stage on third round weekend with a number of intriguing ties
CHESTERFIELD’S BIG DAY OUT
A wonderful draw for National League leaders Chesterfield, who travel to Premier League giants and reigning European champions Chelsea on Saturday evening.
The Spireites will be backed by 6,000 travelling fans at Stamford Bridge and are currently on the longest unbeaten run (14 matches) in England’s top five divisions.
Watch out for their deadly frontman Kabongo Tshimanga, who has 19 goals already this season, while there are some inspiring stories among their players.
Liam Mandeville celebrates after scoring Chesterfield’s opening goal against Salford City
Saidou Khan, who hails from Gambia, was working at a Lidl supermarket in London a few years back as he chased his footballing dream.
Manny Oyeleke, meanwhile, was sat in a Job Centre signing up to Universal Credit in 2016 after suffering a serious ACL injury before rebuilding his career.
This fixture is the FA Cup final we so nearly had in 1997 when Chesterfield, then a third tier club, lost their semi-final against Middlesbrough in controversial circumstances.
They had a goal ruled out despite replays showing it clearly crossed the line during a tie at Old Trafford that ended up 3-3. Chesterfield lost the replay 3-0, meaning Boro advanced to play Chelsea at Wembley.
Sean Dyche, then Chesterfield captain and now Burnley manager, smashes home a penalty against Middlesbrough in their epic 1997 FA Cup semi-final
GERRARD SET FOR SPICY OLD TRAFFORD RETURN
There’s plenty of previous between Steven Gerrard and Manchester United. A new chapter in that rivalry begins on Monday when he manages Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Who can forget Gerrard kissing the TV camera – and the badge on his shirt – after scoring in Liverpool’s 4-1 win there having scored from the penalty spot?
He actually scored five times in all against United at Old Trafford, four of them coming from the penalty spot.
Steven Gerrard memorably kisses the TV camera after scoring for Liverpool at Old Trafford
And while Villa’s initial revival in fortunes when Gerrard took over in November has well and truly ended, he will nonetheless fancy their chances of dumping United out given the multitude of problems Ralf Rangnick is currently contending with.
One thing is for sure, Gerrard can expect to be the pantomime villain of the occasion.
ANFIELD REUNION FOR THE SHREWS
Thankfully, this game on Sunday will be going ahead after Liverpool re-opened their training centre following a Covid-19 outbreak that swept through the squad.
Manager Jurgen Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders will still be isolating after they tested positive with assistant manager Peter Krawietz preparing the team for the visit of League One Shrewsbury.
With so many of Liverpool’s recognised first-teamers either isolating with Covid, injured or away at the Africa Cup of Nations, it will be a shadow side that takes the field.
Shrewsbury fans invaded the pitch after they held Liverpool to a Cup draw back in 2020
Chances are it would have been anyway given that when the teams met a couple of years ago, Liverpool fielded their youngest-ever team and scraped through a replay 1-0.
That came after they’d chucked away a two-goal lead at the Montgomery Waters Meadow in one of Shrewsbury’s most memorable cup exploits.
They will hope to summon that spirit again and take advantage of a weakened opponent to conjure up one of the FA Cup’s great shocks this weekend.
Shrewsbury and Liverpool meet again at Anfield just two years after they last played
VINTAGE CUP FIGHTERS YEOVIL HOPE TO PLUCK CHERRIES
Yeovil Town were responsible for their fair share of Cup giant-killings back in the day and while their ambition is to return to the Football League, they’d happily chalk up another when they entertain Championship high-fliers Bournemouth on Saturday teatime.
The Glovers have twice hosted Manchester United in recent years, so are no strangers to big FA Cup occasions and with the Cherries almost certain to rest players as they chase a Premier League return, an upset could be on the cards.
Yeovil forward Joe Quigley and midfield Matt Worthington both began their careers at Bournemouth.
If Yeovil progress, they will be in the fourth round for the fifth time in their history.
Charlie Wakefield scores for National League Yeovil against Stevenage in the second round
BOREHAM WOOD OUT TO PROVE THEY BELONG IN EFL
History beckons for Hertfordshire club Boreham Wood as they strive to reach the FA Cup fourth round for the first time in their history.
12 months ago, they lost 2-0 to Millwall at this stage but will certainly fancy their chances on Saturday against another London side.
AFC Wimbledon are 18th in League One and certainly vulnerable to a giant-killing by a Wood side pushing hard to make the EFL themselves.
Luke Garrard, the Boreham Wood manager, made over 100 appearances for AFC Wimbledon as a player, helping them up through the non-League divisions.
KIDDERMINSTER OUT TO CREATE A RIGHT ROYAL SHOCK
The fourth non-league side left are also the lowest ranked. Kidderminster Harriers sit fifth in National League North, the sixth tier, but have Football League pedigree.
They take on Championship strugglers Reading at Aggborough on Saturday afternoon in one of the eye-catching ties of the round that somehow wasn’t selected for live TV coverage.
Harriers have already played six ties to reach this point, having started in the second qualifying round, and will sneakily fancy their chances against a Royals side who’ve won just one in six.
The non-League club reached the fourth round back in 2014, losing 1-0 at Premier League Sunderland and will be backed here by a sell-out 5,000-strong crowd.
Ashley Hemmings celebrates his goal for Kidderminster against Grimsby in the first round
Can the big boys beat Boyes?
The FA Cup third round sees the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku enter the fray.
But all of them will certainly have to go some to claim the inaugural FA Cup Mitre Golden Ball for this season’s leading goalscorer in the competition.
The Mitre Golden Ball includes all the Cup’s qualifying rounds as well as the competition proper and, at the moment, Adam Boyes of Northern Premier League Division One East club Marske United leads the way with 11 goals.
Marske went out the competition in the fourth qualifying round, losing 3-2 to Gateshead of the National League North in a replay, but Boyes netted 11 times in seven Cup games before they did.
There plenty of games left to run in the competition but the Premier League hotshots will need to get their scoring boots on to beat him.
MILLWALL, HULL AND SWANSEA AMONG THOSE OUT TO CAUSE UPSETS
Aside from the non-League clubs, there are plenty of ties with upset potential, especially those which pit Championship clubs against Premier League opposition.
Millwall have sent several top-flight clubs packing at The Den in recent years and will look to add south London rivals Crystal Palace to that list on Saturday.
League Two Port Vale entertain Brentford, while West Brom host Brighton, Swansea play Southampton and Hull take on Everton in ties where there may not be a huge gulf in quality.
On Sunday, League One Charlton Athletic will look to take the scalp of the Premier League’s basement club Norwich.
Alex Pearce celebrates scoring for Millwall against Brighton in the FA Cup in 2019 – Brighton went on to win the quarter-final tie on penalties after a 2-2 draw at The Den
YOUNGSTERS GIVEN CHANCE TO SHINE
With Premier League and Championship managers keen to give their stars a break following the hectic festive period, the FA Cup third round weekend has become a good one for spotting the stars of the future.
Given the added complication of Covid-19 and injuries piling up, that is especially true this time around.
Liverpool’s Kaide Gordon, Arsenal’s Charlie Patino and Manchester United’s Shola Shoretire are among those hoping for some action, as explained in our 10 to watch HERE.
Liverpool chiefs believe Kaide Gordon will be the next star to break into the senior team
FOREST REVISIT A MEASURE OF ARSENAL’S PROGRESS
One of the stand-out ties of the third round comes in front of the ITV cameras on Sunday afternoon as resurgent Arsenal travel to the City Ground to take on a, well, resurgent Nottingham Forest.
Mikel Arteta is finally making some progress with his team and the Gunners could well achieve a top four finish this season. They will also fancy winning the FA Cup as they did in 2020.
Nottingham Forest beat Arsenal 4-2 at this stage in 2018 – now the two sides meet again
But Forest are also much revived under Steve Cooper and are eyeing up a push for the Premier League in the second-half of the season once they get a disappointing set of Christmas results out their system.
In 2018, during Arsene Wenger’s final season, a weakened Arsenal side lost 4-2 to Forest, then without a manager, at this precise stage of the competition.
It was Arsenal’s first exit in the third round under Wenger and no doubt hastened his exit. As Arsenal visit again, their strength seems to be growing once more.
The Gunners are looking stronger under Mikel Arteta and will fancy a lengthy FA Cup run
WELCH SET TO MAKE CUP HISTORY
Rebecca Welch will ink her name in the annals of the FA Cup when she becomes the first female referee to take charge of a third round tie on Saturday.
Birmingham City vs Plymouth Argyle is the tie chosen for the officials from Washington in Tyne and Wear.
Welch, 37, became the first woman to referee an EFL game in April and ticks off another landmark this weekend.
Rebecca Welch will this weekend become the first female referee in the FA Cup third round
Third round fixtures and TV guide
Swindon Town 1-4 Manchester City (8pm) Live on ITV
3pm kick-off unless otherwise stated
Mansfield Town vs Middlesbrough (12.15pm)
Bristol City vs Fulham (12.30pm)
Burnley vs Huddersfield Town (12.30pm)
Coventry City vs Derby County (12.30pm)
Hartlepool United vs Blackpool (12.30pm)
Millwall vs Crystal Palace (12.45pm) Live on ITV
Barnsley vs Barrow
Boreham Wood vs AFC Wimbledon
Kidderminster Harriers vs Reading
Leicester City vs Watford
Newcastle United vs Cambridge United
Peterborough United vs Bristol Rovers
Port Vale vs Brentford
Queens Park Rangers vs Rotherham United
West Bromwich Albion vs Brighton and Hove Albion
Wigan Athletic vs Blackburn Rovers
Birmingham City vs Plymouth Argyle (5.30pm)
Chelsea vs Chesterfield (5.30pm) Live on BBC Red Button, iPlayer and website
Hull City vs Everton (5.30pm) Live on BBC One
Swansea City vs Southampton (5.30pm) Live on BBC One Wales and website
Yeovil Town vs AFC Bournemouth (5.45pm) Live on iPlayer and website
Luton Town vs Harrogate Town (12.30pm)
Cardiff City vs Preston North End (2pm) Live on S4C
Charlton Athletic vs Norwich City (2pm)
Liverpool vs Shrewsbury Town (2pm)
Stoke City vs Leyton Orient (2pm)
Tottenham Hotspur vs Morecambe (2pm)
West Ham United vs Leeds United (2pm) Live on ITV
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Sheffield United (2pm)
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal (5.10pm) Live on ITV
Manchester United vs Aston Villa (7.55pm) Live on BBC One
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