The first weekend of the new year is always one football fans relish, the FA Cup third round, and the round the big boys enter the competition. It produces brilliant match ups of little v large but where are the shocks going to be this year? Let’s have a look.
Tie of the round has to be the North London Derby at the Emirates between Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal won the league encounter 1-0 at home earlier in the season and will be looking for a repeat success over their arch rivals. The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League table having overcome some recent bad form with a successful Christmas period. Arsenal will go into the game with serious striking concerns though, with lead striker Olivier Giroud a big doubt for the clash. The much maligned Nicklas Bendtner came on and scored a late winner last time out but injured himself in the process, leaving huge goalscoring concerns for this one.
Spurs have been in magnificent form since the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas, winning three and drawing once over Christmas. They have a man in form up front in Emmanuel Adebayor and he will be eager to haunt his old club this weekend. They are an attacking force under Sherwood, so it should be an open game with plenty of goals and drama as there is always is in a derby. It’s too tight to call this one, and I think it will go to a replay. With such a close call you might be better off tipping
The lowest ranked side left in the competition Macclesfield Town face a managerless Sheffield Wednesday who are struggling in the Championship. The conference side will be in front of a sell out home crowd, and are in good form of late, and are desperate for the win for financial reasons. With Wednesday having other problems to worry about I think there will be a shock at the Moss Rose.
Grimsby host Huddersfield Town and will be another team confident of a shock. High-flying in the conference and at home, the Mariners will be hoping the magic of the cup is alive at Blundell Park. Huddersfield are going well this season though and are ever improving under Mark Robins, I think they will have just enough to get through.
In other ties, Nottingham Forest host West Ham. The Hammers are in dire form at present and have more pressing issues to worry about, Forest to progress for me. Blackburn host Man City at Ewood Park and despite their good form, City will have too much for them. Sheffield United travel to Aston Villa backed by a strong travelling army and with Villa clearly not up for the cup this season, I fancy the Blades to take advantage of that and progress. Derby play Chelsea, and with the home side in fine form this season it will be a real test for Mourinho’s side, but I think they will just have enough to get through. Oldham will be looking for a repeat of last year’s success over Liverpool as they travel to Anfield, but it looks highly unlikely that lightning will strike twice.
Well there are my thoughts on the weekends action, with the FA Cup though, anything can happen.