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The New Year is here and as always that means it's FA Cup 3rd Round time. At this stage of the competition the so-called ‘big boys' of the Premier League enter the FA Cup and those teams from the lower leagues that are struggling for money, hope to get drawn away against one of these 20 clubs as it promises a big payday. However, this is the round in which all football fans look for potential giant killings as no neutral loves anything more than seeing a big club knocked out by a side sitting lower than them in the football pyramid.
We're going to take a close look at the FA Cup 3rd Round fixtures due to be played this weekend and identify any potential giant-killing opportunities and explain why we feel that there is a good chance of the underdog coming out on top. Historically, Liverpool (9), Everton, Leeds, West Ham and Norwich (8) have the worst records for top-flight clubs losing to teams placed below them, while Sheffield Wednesday (15) have slain more giants than anyone else in their time, followed by Wolves (13), Reading (12) and Portsmouth (11).
FA Cup 3rd Round ties involving Premier League clubs
Here is a list of all the ties in the 3rd Round that involve Premier League sides.
Swindon vs Man City, Burnley vs Huddersfield, Millwall vs Crystal Palace, West Brom vs Brighton, Leicester vs Watford, Port Vale vs Brentford, Newcastle vs Cambridge, Swansea vs Southampton, Chelsea vs Chesterfield, Hull vs Everton, Liverpool vs Shrewsbury, Tottenham vs Morecambe, Wolves vs Sheffield United, West Ham vs Leeds, Charlton vs Norwich, Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal and Man Utd vs Aston Villa.
Of those ties, we have selected the following as our potential giant killings of the 3rd Round and we will give our reasons for these choices below.
- Burnley vs Huddersfield
- Newcastle vs Cambridge
- Hull vs Everton
- Liverpool vs Shrewsbury
- Wolves vs Sheffield United
- Charlton vs Norwich
Six Potential Giant Killings of the FA Cup 3rd Round
Burnley vs Huddersfield
Burnley have struggled in the Premier League this season and currently sit in the relegation having secured just 11pts from their opening 17 fixtures. The Clarets have gone out in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in five of the last 10 seasons and in 2016/17 they were beaten at home by Lincoln City 1-0, so there is plenty of potential for another slip up this weekend.
Huddersfield have a good record against Burnley, winning 24, drawing 9 and losing 19 of their 52 previous meetings with the Clarets. The Terriers are going well in the Championship this season, currently occupying the last of the play-off places, so could in theory replace Burnley in the Premier League next season. The visitors are unbeaten in their last four away games but have lost in the 3rd Round in each of their last three seasons.
Newcastle vs Cambridge
The reasons for this potential FA Cup giant-killing are plain and simple. Newcastle have struggled for wins this season with just one to their name in 19 Premier League games. Since the 2010/11 season, the Magpies have been knocked out in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup on seven occasions and during that 2010/11 campaign, it was Stevenage that had the honour of dumping that Newcastle side out of the world's oldest cup competition.
Cambridge have nothing to lose this weekend as nobody expects them to win, yet they know they go up against a Newcastle side low on confidence and the longer they can go without conceding a goal, the more frustrated the home fans will get. Newcastle look set to be without some of their key attacking players for this game which will give League One Cambridge an even better chance of causing a huge upset.
Hull vs Everton
You can see why we have picked this game. Hull might not be having the best of seasons in the Championship but the home advantage could give them the edge against a win-shy Everton side. This tie, like the rest, will be settled on the night via a penalty shoot-out if the scoreline remains level, as the FA have removed replays for the time being. Hull's two wins against Everton both arrived at home during their time in the Premier League together, the most recent being a 2-0 win in 2015 thanks to goals from El Mohamady and former Toffee Jelavic. Coleman is the only member of that Everton side still playing for the Merseysiders.
Rafa Benitez is under immense pressure from the Everton fans, though, the board are still backing him it seems. However, defeat on Saturday could spell the end of the Spaniard's short reign on the blue half of Merseyside as the Toffees have only won one of their last 12 matches in all competitions and were knocked out of the League Cup by Championship side QPR. Everton haven't won on their travels since their 2-0 victory at Brighton in August.
Liverpool vs Shrewsbury
Now, this pick might look odd at first as Liverpool are flying high in the Premier League and have the home advantage on Sunday against League One side Shrewsbury. However, If Klopp does decide to give his youngsters a chance as he has done in the competition before, then there is a chance Shrewsbury will claim the giant-killing label once again. Liverpool have gone out of the FA Cup against lower placed opposition move than any other side and will be without Salah, mane and Keita who are all at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Elliot, Origi, Matip, Firmino, Alisson, Thiago, Minamino and Phillips could also miss the game.
This is the first time since the 2014/15 season that Shrewsbury have reached the 3rd Round of the FA Cup and back in 2003, they pulled off a major giant-killing of their own, defeating Everton 2-1 and now have their eye on the other Merseyside club. Former Everton player, Kevin Ratcliffe was the manager that day and striker Nigel Jemson was the hero. Shrewsbury might be the underdogs this weekend but they have proved the doubters wrong before.
Wolves vs Sheff Utd
Wolves may be unbeaten in their last three league games, beating Man Utd at Old Trafford just a week ago, but this is the FA Cup and this is a competition that has no respect for form and league positions. The main reason we could see this game ending in a giant-killing is down to the sheer lack of goals within the Wolves' side. Yes, Wolves sit 8th in the Premier League table and have turned things around un their new manager but they have failed to score in six of their last 9 matches and haven't scored more than one goal in a game since winning 2-1 at home against Everton in November.
Sheffield United sit 13th in the Championship and look set for a mid-table finish and nothing more, but sometimes this can aid a good cup run. The Blades lost their two league games against Wolves last season but the season before that they secured a 1-0 win at home and drew 0-0 at Molineux. The visitors have won their last four matches, three of which have been on the road, keeping clean sheets in four of their last five games.
Charlton vs Norwich
Another tie in which a League One team goes up against a side from the top tier of English football. Charlton, a former Premier League side themselves, sit 13th in League One and don't seem to have a lot to play for in the second half of the season. When these two sides last met for a friendly back in 2018, Charlton claimed a 1-0 win and the hosts head into this 3rd Round clash having won three of their last four home games.
Norwich have endured a terrible season in the Premier League and look destined to go back down to the Championship once again. The Canaries sit rock bottom of the table with 10pts from their opening 19 matches and have easily the worst goal difference in the division, -34. Norwich have lost their last five matches and are without a win in their last seven games, so confidence is bound to be low and the pressure will be on as their fans need something to cheer.