FA Cup – Third Round Preview

The frantic festive period in English football did not fail to impress with high octane action taking place in the Premier League. However, there is now some respite as we enter the second half of the season as the FA Cup third round kicks off this weekend.

The FA Cup is the biggest domestic cup competition in England. There are 32 teams left in the competition and a diverse range of teams face-off in the third round – the magic of the cup!

This weekend, there are three all-Premier League ties with Aston Villa v Liverpool, Wolves v Crystal Palace and Arsenal (last year’s FA Cup winners) take on Newcastle. Elsewhere, non-league teams Marine and Boreham Wood will fancy their chances against some of the biggest teams in England as they face Tottenham and Millwall respectively.

Last year’s semi-finalists, Man City, take on Championship side Birmingham while runners up in 2020 face League 2 side Morecambe.

Be prepared for a few upsets this weekend! Below are some selected fixtures to keep an eye on in the third round of the FA Cup.

Aston Villa host Liverpool in the first FA Cup third round fixture on Friday evening. The Reds famously suffered a 7-2 defeat at Villa Park back in October and Jurgen Klopp will be eager to avenge the loss this weekend. Villa performed well over the festive period and lost just one game in their last six. Liverpool, however, struggled recently, winning just one in their last seven away matches.

A resurgent Arsenal takes on a desperate Newcastle side on Saturday evening. The Gunners won the FA Cup last season and have performed well recently, winning three consecutive games between Boxing Day and New Year. Newcastle, however, look like a team bereft of creativity and confidence. Steve Bruce’s side has not won in their last six matches and was eliminated from the EFL Cup quarter-finals recently, losing 1-0 to Brentford. Arsenal holds the cards heading into their FA Cup title defence.

At Old Trafford, Man United take on Watford. The Red Devils are flying high at the moment and have won five of their last eight games in all competitions. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side, however, was eliminated from the EFL Cup against fierce rivals Man City this week. This could play into Watford’s hands. The Hornets have proven a tough side to beat in England’s second tier this season. They have lost just five of their 22 Championship matches this season. The Hornets have the second-best defence in the league too, having shipped just 17 goals and kept nine clean sheets.

Last season’s semi-finalists Man City host Birmingham City at the Etihad Stadium this weekend. The two teams could not be further apart in terms of form. City has won five consecutive games heading in this fixture. Birmingham, however, lost five of their last six matches. In the past, team form has often been discarded in FA Cup matches. But this is unlikely to be the case here and City should progress to the fourth round for the ninth season in a row.

Players to Watch

  1. Alexadre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette is a player who has lacked confidence in recent years. The striker arrived at Arsenal with great promise but has not lived up to the hype. But, his recent electric form is putting these concerns to bed. The French striker has scored five goals in his last four matches. He also led the line superbly in the Gunner’s 4-0 win over West Brom last week, scoring twice. Expect the in-form Lacazette to be among the goals as Arsenal continue their revival in the next few weeks.

2. Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is renowned as a reliable defender for Man United. However, he has shown glimpses of promising attacking prowess in recent weeks. In his most recent performance against Aston Villa, Wan-Bissaka put in a man of the match performance. The young right-back got forward with more intention and set up Anthony Martial for the opening goal in the 2-1 win. Expect more goal contributions to come from Wan-Bissaka as the season progresses.

3. Ivan Toney

We couldn’t preview the FA Cup without looking at some promising players to keep an eye on in the lower divisions. Brentford’s striker Ivan Toney has been in exceptional form this season. The 23-year-old has scored 16 times for Brentford and setup four for his teammates. No other player in the Championship has more goal contributions than Toney. With four goals and three assists in his last nine games, keep an eye on Toney to produce again this weekend against Middlesbrough.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

The FA Cup is probably one of the most unpredictable competitions in World football. But we like a challenge at Investing in Soccer.

As the FA Cup is a knockout competition, it’s do or die for most teams. This could see a few shock results this weekend, so don’t be shocked if a few of the Premier League big boys are eliminated from the tournament come Monday evening.

Below are our predictions for the selected games from round three.

If you are a seasoned FA Cup viewer or if you have never watched a third-round tie before, it is a unique footballing spectacle. There is often plenty of entertainment and a different feel about FA Cup ties, which is well worth catching. Take a look for yourselves this weekend.