The draw for the FA Cup’s third round has been made with not many decent ties coming out of the hat. Let take a look at the most decent ties to watch out for in the third round.
Preston North End vs Arsenal
This tie is the best of a bad bunch pitting a championship side at home to a Premier League giant. Preston players will be fancying victory over what could be a weak Arsenal side, who will be recovering from a tough run of Christmas/New Year fixtures.
Arsenal will go into this match knowing that defeat would be a disastrous result given that they won’t be part of the League Cup semi finals, the following midweek. Arsene Wenger will surely look to field a full first team for this tie, after seeing his reserves wilt against Southampton in the League Cup.
West Ham United vs Manchester City
This all prem tie could well be a classic with both teams looking to embark on a cup run. West Ham will be looking to use a cup run to inspire confidence into a side who are fighting relegation, league wise.
Pep Guardiola is going to want to field a proper first team and avoid a humiliating early exit. Man City’s away form isn’t always consistent and have only kept two clean sheets away from home all season.
Tactically, the Hammers will be looking to attack and make life hard for Aguero when tracking back. The question is, does the FA Cup feature in Guardiola’s plans for this season or is winning the Champions League more important?
Everton vs Leicester
This match will be must win for both sides heading into the second half of this season.
Ronald Koeman will be looking to take Everton further than he has been able to with a decent Southampton side in the last two seasons. The Toffees are going to want to end a trophy drought that has gone on for over 20 years and a win over the Premier League champions will boost their hunger to go all the way.
Claudio Ranieri will be wanting to get his hands on the world’s oldest trophy in an attempt to salvage something from what has been a poor season on the domestic front. Leicester are currently staring at a relegation battle but will look to use a FA Cup run to kick start their Premier League season. Will the players be as keen as Ranieri on a domestic cup run after their performance in Europe?
Sutton United vs AFC Wimbledon
This match on paper looks like a dud game but it has the magic of what the FA Cup is all about. Both sides are giant killers from the competition’s past and will be looking to commence another cup slaying run of higher opposition. For this round, they will have to make do with playing each other in a local derby.
Sutton have already beaten League Two opposition so their League One visitors won’t be too much of a problem for them to cope with. A win and place in fourth round will surely be on their minds, knowing that a possible top flight team at home will be on the cards so expect the players to just go for it.
The Dons will however be looking to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s 4-3 win after being 3-0 down in the last 10 minutes. Their festive games are against teams around them in the League One table so expect to see players rested for this tie.
If the manager wants to try and gain promotion into the Sky Bet Championship, then he will surely look to give fringe players a run out here. A cup run alongside promotion challenge might be productive in terms of spirit and confidence but could prove costly come end of season when players start to tire.
Manchester United vs Reading
This match will have the Jaap Stam factor but expect to see Man Utd struggle against the promotion chasing royals.
The Red Devils have often been poor at home against all opposition and Reading will be looking to put the strength of Jose Mourinho’s side to the test. They may have Zlatan Ibrahimović but he will surely need to be rested given his age. This might play into an attack minded Reading side because without the Swede, United have struggled to fully deliver and could well be punished here.
Reading will relish a trip to Old Trafford after their recent FA Cup exploits and are sure to have plenty of confidence after some tough defeats against Arsenal then Crystal Palace in recent seasons of the competition. With Stam as manager, they will be looking to put his former playing club to the sword.
Honourable mentions but not outstanding enough to make top 5:
- Bolton Wanderers vs Crystal Palace – Bolton will be looking to dump out the struggling Eagles
- Norwich City vs Southampton – Canaries will want to get past a strong Saints side
- Cambridge United vs Leeds United – Potential banana skin depending on Leeds side
- Millwall vs Bournemouth – Dangerous place to go for a feisty Cherries’ team
- Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa – League title contenders vs ex European giant