English football fans would have had their eyes fixed on Monday’s FA Cup third round draw, pondering over which of the thirty-two ties are the most mouth-watering.
Of a potential ten all Premier League ties, five were served up and sadly the television companies will most probably be giving serious consideration to having at least one of those fixtures as a featured game.
Watford face Newcastle United, Norwich City host Manchester City, Southampton play Crystal Palace and Sunderland travel to holders Arsenal though arguably the pick of the five comes at White Hart Lane.
Eight-times winners Tottenham Hotspur face Premier League leaders Leicester City in a repeat of the 1961 final, which was won by the North London outfit and one of four finals lost by the Foxes.
Should it be televised? Possibly. It certainly has more kudos than last season’s choice of Spurs versus Arsenal – a tie that is mostly shown twice a year anyway though this the FA Cup. The so called ‘leveller’ where form goes out the window. The competition that is always mentioned in the same breath as the word magic. It’s the one all fans of my generation and the few before wanted to win.
The latter may not be the case anymore. The increased coverage of the Champions League and superstars such as Lionel Messi ad Cristiano Ronaldo has stolen focus for sure but if the FA Cup is covered as it used to be, it can only help to re-boost the competitions profile.
Aswell as the all Premier League ties, six of the matches will see Championship sides face off with one of those games seeing Leeds United meet Rotherham United, with managers Steve Evans and Neil Redfearn coming up against their former sides.
There are three non-league outfits still in the tournament, with Eastliegh hosting Bolton Wanderers while Salford City and Whitehawk need to beat Hartlepool United and Dagenham and Redbridge respectively.
The latter of those semi-professional outfits certainly have the most favourable draw of their contemporaries, with a trip to Everton potentially in the offing.
Aside from those involving the lowest ranked in the football pyramid, there are certainly some intriguing matches in prospect.
League One Doncaster Rovers host top flight Stoke City, while League Two duo Oxford United and Exeter City have landed big home ties against Swansea City and Liverpool respectively.
One potential tie that may have gone under the radar is Brentford’s home time with the winners of the replay between Walsall and Chesterfield.
Should the West Midlands side progress, they will be up against their former manager Dean Smith, who only took charge at Griffin Park last week.
Manchester City are joint favourites with Arsenal to lift the trophy at Wembley on May 21st, with the usual suspects ranked accordingly in the eyes of the bookmakers.
Who will win the FA Cup this season?