FA Cup Third Round Games. The Teams and Players to Watch
It’s FA Cup time and for many supporters, the best weekend in the footballing calendar as the ‘big boys’ of the Premier League and Championship enter the competition. Holders Arsenal begins their campaign at home to Newcastle, and Chorley has a good chance against Co-vid hit Derby. We select the games to look out for and the players to watch.
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Friday 19:45 Venue: Villa Park
Referee Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees Stuart Burt & Richard West
Fourth Official Anthony Taylor
Odds H 5/2 A 37/13 D 22/19
Aston Villa has an uphill task for the Champions who will be eager to avenge their 7 – 2 humiliation in the Premier League. Villa also triumphed against Liverpool 2 – 1 in the 2015 semi-finals but, lost in the finals to Arsenal. The Reds have been eliminated from four of their last six FA Cup ties. Their current form is dreadful by their standards, winless in 3 games. These uncertainties increase the possibility of Liverpool featuring a strong side, especially the front three. Jürgen Klopp doesn’t have the luxury of choosing the titles to contest, and now the Holy Grail of the Premier League has finally been achieved, they could like Man City, start taking pride in challenging for the domestic cups. Latest reports state this game will go ahead but, Villa will be forced to turn to youth players due to a Co-vid outbreak at the club; therefore it could be a long night for Aston Villa fans.
Player to watch: Anwar El Ghazi, five goals in the last six games
Everton Vs Rotherham United
Saturday 12:00 Venue: Goodison Park
Referee Stuart Attwell
Assistant Referees James Mainwaring & Wade Smith
Fourth Official Jeremy Simpson
Odds H 5/12 A 4/1 D 41/5
The Toffees had a bad start to the year losing to West Ham but have since enjoyed an eight-day rest ahead of this encounter. Carlo Ancelotti will need to pump up a side that has been a perennial loser in the FA Cup losing five in six (by a single goal margin) as many as they lost in the previous 27 games. Rotherham will miss six senior players through injury and have endured tough travels against top-flight opponents scoring just once conceding 19 with the most recent a 7 – 0 thumping by Man City. The Millers have won just one of the last nine games but have been great on the attack scoring at least two goals in their last 3 FA Cup matches.
Player to watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson, five goals and two assists
Boreham Wood v Millwall
Saturday 12:00 Venue: Boreham Wood Stadium
Referee Benjamin Speedie
Assistant Referees Craig Taylor & Paul Lister
Fourth Official Neil Hair
Odds H 37/5 A 15/4 D 4/9
Boreham Wood Football Club make their first appearance in the third round of the FA Cup and their first competitive meeting with Millwall. The host has a good record against Football league sides recovering from a poor record of 9 eliminations by winning two of the last three in the last two consecutive seasons. Millwall has progressed from 12 of their 13 FA Cup ties against non-league opponents. They have played in the fourth round in each of the last four campaigns but have never achieved this fate in five consecutive seasons. A stern test for the visitors against a side on a great run on the back of four consecutive wins, but this should be an easy win for Millwall here.
Player to watch: Jed Wallace, six goals and two assists
Chorley v Derby County
Saturday 12:15 Venue: Victory Park
Referee Kevin Friend
Assistant Referees Robert Merchant & Robert Atkin
Fourth Official Ross Joyce
Odds H 17/2 A 17/4 D 13/8
Chorley is in the third round of the FA Cup for the first time. If they proceed, they would have won as many games in the Cup this season than they had in the club’s history (3 wins). Derby on the other hand has won each of the last five times against sides in the lower division. They would be stern favourites but are stuck to field their youth players with the entire first-team plagued with a Covid-19 outbreak raising the prospects of the game being cancelled. With Chorley’s first team playing against Derby’s youth team, there could be an upset here, and they have already won four games to get to this stage.
Player to watch: Connor Hall, 4 goals, 0.6 per game.
Arsenal v Newcastle
Saturday 17:30 Venue: Emirates Stadium
Referee Chris Kavanagh
Assistant Referees Dan Cook & Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official Gavin Ward
Odds H 8/15 A 15/4 D 23/4
This game could be a potential high-end classic between two Premier League sides. The Gunners are enjoying a resurgence, winning three games on the bounce while Newcastle is winless in the last five games. The most successful side in the competition suffered a surprise elimination at this stage the last time they entered as holders (2017-18), losing to Nottingham Forest. They will be hoping the ghosts of 2017 don’t return, especially against a side that can hurt them. The Magpies have lost the last three away games against Arsenal in the FA Cup, all three have ended by a 3 – 0 scoreline. They have been eliminated in 10 of the 11 FA Cup ties against fellow Premier League opposition. A tough fight against this competition’s maestros, who is in great form means Steve Bruce’s side has a tough challenge and could lose heavily here.
Player to watch: Alexandre Lacazette, four goals in three games
Manchester United v Watford
Saturday 20:00 Venue: Old Trafford
Referee Andrew Madley
Assistant Referees Simon Beck & Adrian Holmes
Fourth Official Lee Mason
Odds H 7/19 A 19/4 D 44/5
Manchester United have triumphed in three of the last four times against Watford. They would be determined to go all the way and bounce back after a being painfully knocked out in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup by Man City. The Red Devils have progressed in 33 of the 35 FA Cup third round ties with the two disappointments coming at home, raising the prospect of an upset in this encounter. Watford has found Old Trafford a tough playground, losing their last nine games there. They have been in fine form in the Championship and will be fielding their best side. This game could prove to be a tricky test for the home side.
Player to watch: Ismaila Sarr, four goals and two assists
Chelsea v Morecambe
Sunday 16:30 Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee Darren England
Assistant Referees Constantine Hatzidakis & Matthew Jones
Fourth Official James Linington
Odds H 1/11 A 14/1 D 40/1
This is the first-ever meeting between the last year’s finalists and the 1974 FA Trophy winners. It is a tough time at the Bridge for Frank Lampard who cannot afford another slip-up, especially against a League two side that would be catastrophic in their quest for silverware. The memories of last year’s loss against Arsenal are still fresh and the Blues are likely to be ruthless in getting this over the line. Morecambe are worthy competitors capable of disappointing, having won five of the last six with Mendes-Gomes scoring five goals in this run. This tie is the fourth time they have reached the third round, having lost the previous three without scoring a goal.
Player to watch: Carlos Mendes-Gomes, 5 goals in 6 games.
Marine v Tottenham Hotspurs
Sunday 17:00 Venue: Rossett Park
Referee Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees Simon Bennett & Gary Beswick
Fourth Official Andre Marriner
Odds H 100/1 A 28/1 D 1/20
A memorable day on Merseyside as the Mariners have their first-ever FA Cup match against a top-flight opponent. The non-league will be playing for pride in their second appearance at this stage, knowing they have a slim chance for glory but, nothing to lose. Tottenham Hotspurs are hungry for a trophy with the Premier League proving to be a tough task. Jose Mourinho would find pleasure in domestic success before gearing up to go all the way in the Premier League. The London side has progressed in 13 of the last 14 FA third round ties losing just once to Arsenal thus should not have any trouble getting past the non-league side. Marine beat Nantwich Town (4-1) and Waterlooville (1-0) in the previous rounds.
Player to watch:Gareth Bale, three goals so far, is a favourite rotation player in the domestic games.
Stockport County v West Ham United
Monday 20:00 Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee Michael Dean
Assistant Referees Darren Can & Daniel Robathan
Fourth Official Kevin Friend
Odds H 41/5 A 5/1 D 10/29
This tie is a big game as the 4th side in the National League clash with the Premier League’s tenth placed side. The hosts have great talents, such as John Rooney who has managed 11 goals in 15 games and Alex Reid with eight goals. Even Reid’s tally is more than any West Ham player has managed this season. The Hammers had a great start to the season but have drifted, with just one win in the last five games. David Moyes’s side has all the tools to make this a comfortable win as they look to continue resting their best players and give minutes to some like Michail Antonio, who is back from injury.
Player to watch: John Rooney, 11 goals in 15 appearances.
Man City v Birmingham City
Sunday 13:30 Venue: Etihad
Referee Robert Jones
Assistant Referees Edward Smart & Scott Ledger
Fourth Official Martin Atkinson
Odds H 1/7 A 9/1 D 25/1
Man City are ruthless with the domestic cups and could still field a strong side after triumphing against Man United to reach the Carabao Cup finals. Birmingham is winless in the last 12 games against their hosts. The visitors are famous in the FA Cup for triumphing against Arsenal 2 – 1 in 2010-11 final thus you can’t just write them off. The Citizens have won the last five third-round ties by an aggregate score of 23 – 2. Pep Guardiola changed the mentality, intensity, and focus of the domestic leagues and would most definitely have the edge especially on their perfect run of five wins in five, against a winless side in five.
Player to watch: Phil Foden likes non-Premier League encounters with ten goals and four assists this season.