There are 32 ties in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend and 22 are starting at the traditional time of 3pm. That means more than 30% of the matches have been rearranged for different reasons but the main one is for live TV coverage. He who pays the piper calls the tune which means one of the ties of the round that brings together Liverpool and Everton is being played on Friday. The home team in Liverpool should win this derby and progress to the next round. Derby themselves can avoid defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on the same night.
The matches shown for live coverage in the FA Cup are usually blockbusters between two big Premier league teams and ties that have the potential for a giant-killing. The Merseyside derby is a huge match in that part of the world but there are few matches that would appeal to the romantic and are about David and Goliath. The tie between Fleetwood and Leicester has popular appeal due to the number of subplots.
Leicester caused the greatest upset in sporting history by winning the Premier League in 2015/16. Fleetwood are a club going places and there appears to be no ceiling on their aspirations. After winning the title Leicester struggled but they are now near the level that saw them land odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League. Team selection will be key to the outcome but it is hoped that Jamie Vardy plays for Leicester because he scored 31 goals for Fleetwood in 36 matches in the 2011-12 season. The club were then in the Conference Premier but they now play in League One.
Sunday’s tie between the home side in Shrewsbury and West Ham could be a banana skin for the Premier League club. Shrewsbury are second in League One having lost just three times in 25 matches. They have the best home record in the third tier of English football and have lost just one of 12 fixtures on their own ground, scoring 18 goals and conceding just four. West Ham have won just one of 11 Premier League fixtures on the road this season so the potential for an upset is obvious.
The outcome of visit of Chelsea to Norwich will depend very much on the strength of the Chelsea starting 11. The London club are right in the mix for Champions League qualification and that is far more important than a run in the FA Cup. The same could be said of Arsenal’s tie at Nottingham Forest and without knowing the team selection its difficult to offer an opinion on these two ties. Brighton and Crystal Palace meet on Monday night but both sides could still have relegation issues so again team selection is key. Staying in the Premier League is paramount for both clubs.
The FA Cup is the most famous club competition in the world. The Final was a national occasion but it has been devalued by the number of live TV matches throughout the season. However, the cream usually rises to the top and the winner of the tie between Liverpool and Everton will be the ante post selection to win the Cup.