FA Cup 3rd round: Previewing the key games this weekend

By on January 5, 2024

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The 3rd round of the FA Cup is upon us and this stage sees the Premier League big boys enter the competition. We look ahead at some of the key games this weekend….

Tottenham vs Burnley

An all-Premier League clash sees Tottenham take on Burnley in North London on Friday night. Spurs have a rich history in the FA Cup but haven’t won the competition since 1991 so Ange Postecoglou will be hoping to end that drought this season.

Tottenham head into the game off the back of a mixed run of form. They lost 4-2 away to Brighton on Boxing Day but bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve thanks to goals from Pape Matar Sarr, Son Heung-min and Richarlison.

That win has seen Spurs climb up to fifth place in the Premier League table and they’re now just one point behind fourth placed Arsenal following their recent slump. Tottenham are also just six points adrift of leaders Liverpool, so they may have dragged themselves back into the title race.

However, while Postecoglou may have one eye on a surprise title tilt during the second half of the season, the Aussie boss knows his best chance of silverware is to win the FA Cup. Spurs have been handed a tricky 3rd round clash but they’ll still be confident of getting the job done at home to Burnley. Those with Tottenham tickets will be hoping they can avoid an upset and book their place in the next round.

The Clarets find themselves sitting second from bottom in the Premier League table having picked up just 11 points from their 20 games so far. It’s been a difficult return to the top flight following their stunning success in the Championship last season. Vincent Kompany will be hoping a good run in the FA Cup could act as a springboard to boost their survival hopes.

Prediction: Burnley are easy on the eye and are capable of causing Tottenham some problems due to Postecoglou’s open style of play. However, the fact that Burnley won’t sit with 10 men behind the ball and will try to play football should play right into Tottenham’s hands. In an open game, Spurs should have far too much quality for the Clarets and we’re predicting a routine win for Spurs. Tottenham 3-0 Burnley

Arsenal vs Liverpool

Undoubtedly, the biggest game of the FA Cup 3rd round sees title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool lock horns at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Arsenal sat top of the table on Christmas Day after a 1-1 draw at Anfield. However, they suffered a shock defeat to West Ham just days later. Despite creating over 30 shots, the Gunners miss-fired in front of goal and slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to the Hammers. Mikel Arteta’s men then produced arguably their worst performance of the season as they lost 2-1 to Fulham at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Eve.

Liverpool took full advantage of Arsenal’s slip-ups. The Reds moved top of the table with a win at Burnley on Boxing Day and opened up a five point advantage by beating Newcastle 4-2 on New Year’s Day. Jurgen Klopp’s men are now well positioned to mount a serious title push during the second half of the campaign.

The two giants will now go head-to-head at the Emirates with a place in the 4th round of the FA Cup up for grabs. Both clubs have a rich history in the FA Cup and will be hoping to add to their trophy hauls this season.

Mikel Arteta’s need for a win may be greater given Arsenal come into the game off the back of consecutive defeats. Liverpool on the other hand have a two-legged League Cup semi-final to think about, so Klopp may be forgiven for fielding a weakened side on Sunday afternoon.

Prediction: This is going to be a fascinating game and the outcome could be decided by how the managers decide to line-up. Klopp could opt to rest some of his key players ahead of Wednesday’s EFL Cup semi-final which would give the advantage to Arsenal. Arteta cannot afford for his team to lose a third consecutive game and crash out of the FA Cup at this early stage, so I expect him to go full strength on Sunday.

The Gunners also have home advantage so I’m predicting Arsenal to edge it at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

Man City vs Huddersfield

FA Cup holders Manchester City begin the defence of the trophy with a game against Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium this weekend. City won the FA Cup as part of their historic treble-winning campaign last season after beating rivals Man Utd 2-1 in the final at Wembley. Pep Guardiola will now be hoping they can book their place in the 4th round with a win over Huddersfield on Sunday.

City have got their campaign back on track after enduring something of a tricky spell late last year. A run of just three points from four league games saw them slip down the table but they ended 2023 with wins over Everton and Sheffield United.

They now sit third in the table – five points adrift of leaders Liverpool with a game in hand – so they are still right in the mix to win their fourth consecutive Premier League title. Guardiola must now turn focus to the FA Cup as they welcome Huddersfield to the Etihad.

The Terriers are 21st in the Championship after a disappointing first half to the season. Manager Darren Moore will know they face an extremely difficult task away to the European Champions and it difficult to see how the visitors can cause an upset.

Prediction: Obviously anything can happen in the FA Cup but Man City are expected to ease to a win on Sunday. Huddersfield are unlikely to cause them too many problems and City’s superior quality should see them into the next round. Man City 3-0 Huddersfield

Other notable games

Elsewhere, Manchester United will take on Wigan at the DW Stadium on Monday night. United have endured a tough spell lately so Erik ten Hag could certainly do with a good cup run. They’ll be hoping to avoid an upset when they take on League One Wigan.

Chelsea are also struggling for consistency this season so they’ll be looking to make light work of Preston when they meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure to turn things around in West London so Chelsea cannot afford to lose to the Championship outfit on home soil this weekend.