The big Saturday in every footballing calendar has arrived with FA Cup action ruling the first Saturday of January.

There are various highlights throughout the day including; Fleetwood Town vs Leicester, Exeter City vs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Swansea City amongst others.

Here, we are picking out the pure gems for our preview.

 

Fleetwood Town vs Leicester City (12:45pm)

Jamie Vardy returns to his former club for the first time since leaving Highbury in May 2012.

Vardy Fleetwood

Jamie Vardy prepares to return to Highbury for the first time since signing for Leicester in May 2012.

 

Although the England striker is a doubt to play with a groin injury, he is expected to be at the ground watching on.

These teams have never met in a competitive fixture before, despite Fleetwood beating Leicester’s U23s in Checkatrade Trophy at start of season. 

This decade has seen the Foxes face three League One/Two sides in the FA Cup, winning their first two vs Swindon and Burton Albion. 

Their last clash with a club at that level came away to Millwall last season in fifth round, losing 1-0. 

Could that defeat suggest that another defeat is in store?

I personally don’t think it does and am backing Leicester to win this comfortably.

Prediction: Fleetwood Town 0-2 Leicester City

Result: Fleetwood Town 0-0 Leicester City

 

Blackburn Rovers vs Hull City

Just six positions separate these sides in the footballing pyramid so a cupset could be in store here.

There has been two draws in three FA Cup meetings with both teams winning one replay each, making this tough to call.

Rovers have won two and drawn three of their last five games, whilst the Tigers have two draws and three defeats in same period.

Although this will be competitive, I fancy Blackburn to progress because Tony Mowbray has progressed from this stage on five of six occasions as a manager.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Hull City

Result: Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Hull City

 

Carlisle United vs Sheffield Wednesday

Managerless Sheffield Wednesday travel to Brunton Park hoping to avoid being on receiving end of a cupset.

Both clubs made their league’s play offs last season but are struggling this time around.

There has been two previous FA Cup meetings between these sides with both coming in Northumbria.

Both teams took a win each but this will be a tough test of both clubs and their quality.

Although Carlisle will give it their all, I got a feeling that the Owls will win this if field a strong line up.

Prediction: Carlisle United 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday

Result: Carlisle United 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

 

Exeter City vs WBA

West Bromwich Albion faces a tough 159.8 mile trip to Exeter City as they look to halt a 20 match winless run.

This is the first ever FA Cup tie between these teams despite meeting on six previous occasions.

If strip out their four league meetings, West Brom have won their previous two cup clashes in 1973-74 League Cup then 1991-92 Football League Trophy.

Both of those wins did come at the Hawthorns though so, could this be Exeter’s first chance at a cup win in this fixture?

West Bromwich Albion unveil new manager Alan Pardew

WBA are still looking for first win in 20 matches and first under Alan Pardew.

Although I can see them giving it everything, I reckon this will be the Baggies’ first win under Alan Pardew. 

Prediction: Exeter City 1-2 WBA

Result: Exeter City 0-2 WBA

 

Stevenage vs Reading

A struggling Reading side head to Stevenage looking for a win, that can kick start their season.

Stevenage meanwhile are midtable in Sky Bet League Two so can afford a cup run.

These teams have history in the FA Cup, taking one win apiece from their two meetings across January 2011 & 12.

The Royals however haven’t lost to a fourth tier team in this competition since December 2001-, when they lost to York City.

For that reason, I am backing them to edge it here despite a run of no wins in last six games.

Prediction: Stevenage 0-2 Reading

Result: Stevenage 0-0 Reading

 

Watford vs Bristol City

These teams already met this season, over in the Carabao Cup with Bristol City winning 3-2.

Watford will be keen to seek revenge here as City prepare for their Carabao Cup semi final in midweek.

There has been three FA Cup meetings between these teams with the Hornets winning both home games.

Both teams however are in contrasting form with Watford struggling to get wins.

The Robins meanwhile went nine matches unbeaten since start of November, despite losing their last two.

Given the quality in both squads, this should be entertaining but I fancy Watford to just edge this.

Prediction: Watford 2-1 Bristol City

Result: Watford 3-0 Bristol City

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Swansea City

Just one position and league separate these sides coming into this fixture. 

Wolverhampton Wanderers won both of the previous FA Cup clashes in this fixture, so will be favourites here. 

Swansea however have shown progress since Carlos Carvalhal’s arrival, conceding just three and scoring two. 

Carlos Carvahal Swansea.jpg

Can Carlos Carvalhal’s Swans continue to progress forwards?

Carvalhal has progressed and lost one apiece at this stage during his time at Sheffield Wednesday. 

The Portuguese has one win and loss apiece from two trips to Molineux but overall, has two wins & losses plus a draw from his five previous meetings with Wolves. 

Although this will be a competitive battle, I am backing Swansea to prevent a cupset here. 

Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Swansea City

Result: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 Swansea City

 

*Check out Jake Self’s Middlesbrough vs Sunderland preview at; https://sportgrill.blog/2018/01/05/fa-cup-preview-middlesbrough-vs-sunderland/

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