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The third round of the FA Cup is upon us and there are many reasons to be excited. The big boys have jumped into the boat, giving us some tasty accessories and several potential surprises.
Here are some games that might be worth keeping an eye out for this weekend.
Aston Villa vs Liverpool (Friday, January 8, 7:45 p.m.)
Aston Villa humiliated Liverpool in their last matchTechnically not on the weekend, but this game just couldn’t be left out.
Aston Villa host champion Liverpool at Villa Park on Friday night, in one of three Premier League ties.
On the surface, visitors will seem like favorites. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men are not in the best of shape right now, scoring just two points in their last three outings.
Furthermore, the Reds have lost their last two visits to Villa Park by an aggregate score of 12-2. Although, to be fair, they were playing their reserve side in one of those matches.
This time, they are expected to be under 23 versus under 23. Liverpool have bigger things to worry about and probably won’t risk injuring their first team players, while a COVID-19 outbreak at Aston Villa camp has depleted their equipment.
Queens Park Rangers vs Fulham (Saturday, January 19, 3:00 p.m.)
The hottest match at 3:00 pm on Saturday comes at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, as QPR host Fulham in a West London derby.
Neither party is in inspiring shape at the moment. The QPR does not win in nine, while the whites have not won since November 2.
Last season’s matchups between these two ended similarly. The Rs took an early lead in both games through Jordan Hugill, but ultimately lost 2-1. Mark Warburton will expect an improved result this time.
Assuming Fulham’s COVID-19 crisis doesn’t postpone its third game in a row, this should be one to watch out for.
Arsenal vs Newcastle United (Saturday, January 9, 5:30 p.m.)
Two teams in need of a lift meet at the Emirates on Saturday, with both coaches under pressure.
Despite his recent mini-revival, Mikel Arteta will still have to step things up at the Gunners if he wants to stay in charge. As for Steve Bruce, the performances have not been pretty and the results don’t support him. An early exit from the FA Cup could be a serious blow to any of these bosses.
For Arsenal, this is their competition. They are the reigning champions, they have won four of the last seven and no team in history can match their 14 wins.
Manchester United vs Watford (Saturday, January 9, 8:00 p.m.)
Manchester United will be desperate to lift this cup as they haven’t won a trophy since the Europa League in 2017. For a club of its size and history, that’s a huge drought. His exit from the Carabao Cup semi-final to Manchester City will only add to his hunger in the FA Cup.
In its path is recently relegated Watford. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, the Hornets are among the contenders for the promotion this season, and they currently reside in a play-off spot.
Additionally, the Red Devils were defeated at Vicarage Road last season, due in large part to a terrible mistake by David de Gea.
Chelsea vs Morecambe (Sunday, January 10, 1:30 PM)
Chelsea’s FA Cup journey begins against Morecambe from League Two. On paper, this should be easy to predict. However, soccer is not played on paper.
Chelsea have just one win in their last seven in all competitions, falling from first to ninth in a month. This has increased the pressure on manager Frank Lampard, who could be left out of the gate if his team does not advance to the fourth round.
Meanwhile, the Shrimps enter this game in high spirits, having won their last four outings.
Could there be a surprise in the cards?
Marine vs Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, January 10, 5:00 p.m.)
Another team desperate to end their trophy drought is Tottenham, who have not had a trophy in their hands since 2008. But if there is one thing José Mourinho knows all about, it is the trophy.
For their tie in the third round, the Spurs face eighth-level Marine, the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament. If they achieve a surprising victory, Marine will go down in the annals of the FA Cup, having achieved one of the most notable upsets of all time.
An eighth-tier team beating José Mourinho’s Spurs. It couldn’t happen, right?