This weekend all the romance of FA Cup third round day returns. Traditionally it is a day when big upsets are caused and giants fall.
There is lots of possible ties were there could be major upsets. Here are some of those ties:
Mansfield vs. Liverpool
This is the sort of tie that the FA Cup was built on, a giant of the English game playing against a non-league side on their own turf. In reality Mansfield shouldn’t even come close to Liverpool in terms of quality.
However, this is the FA Cup we are talking about were strange things happen.
The non-league outfit have suffered just one defeat in 12 games and will be hoping to emulate the 1970’s Mansfield team that got a league cup draw with the Reds.
Liverpool are likely to field a weakened line-up, but will give a debut to new signing Daniel Sturridge, who has scored seven goals in his last seven FA Cup games.
Will Mansfield defeat Liverpool at Field Mill? It’s very unlikely, but you just never know in football, especially the FA Cup.
Cheltenham vs. Everton
Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours Everton face a tricky away day in the third round as they visit Whaddon Road. Cheltenham are currently enjoying a decent season and are fourth in the League Two table, although their recent form has been slightly patchy.
Everton have a history of being on the wrong end of surprise results in cup competitions with the likes of Port Vale, Shrewsbury and Oldham all defeating the Premier League outfit within the last two decades.
A lot will depend on how strong a team that David Moyes decides to pick for the game. The Scot gambled on fielding a weakened team against Championship Leeds in the Capitol One Cup earlier in the season and the gamble backfired, as the Toffee’s made an early exit.
Moyes is unlikely to make the same mistake again, as the FA Cup is the only realistic opportunity of silverware this season for the Merseysider’s. The League Two outfit shouldn’t have enough quality to shock Everton, but as we have seen in the past the Toffee’s have come unstuck at many a lower league ground.
Crawley vs. Reading
Premier League Reading travel to League One side Crawley hoping to avoid an early exit from the FA Cup. The Royals are struggling in the Premier League, sitting second from bottom in the top flight table.
Crawley are currently eighth in League One and pushing for the play-off places this season. Their recent form has seen the Red Devils lose just one of their last six games and Richie Barker’s men will be confident that they can cause an upset against the Premier League side.
Reading’s priority will definitely not be the FA Cup this season. Brian McDermott’s side’s priority this season is staying in the top flight. The Royals only have a small squad, but I think the Reading boss may ring the changes for this one.
I don’t know whether it would be considered a major shock if Crawley did defeat Reading, but it would still be a very good scalp for a League One side to take. Crawley had a good cup run last season and they will be hoping to do it again in this campaign.
Manchester City vs. Watford
There may not be leagues of difference between where these two clubs sit, but in terms of money spent on players in recent seasons there is a world of difference. Watford’s recent takeover has given the club a more healthy financial state, after the club slipped into perilous financial water.
City on the other hand have spent hundreds of millions in recent years attempting to build an all-conquering team. Roberto Mancini’s team are not having a stellar season and the Italian may use some of his fringe players in this encounter.
The Hornets are currently enjoying a decent season, sitting in sixth place in the Championship table challenging for the play-off positions. Even if City field a weakened team a Watford victory would be a major shock, wouldn’t it?
Who will cause the biggest shocks in the third round of FA Cup?