Match Previews

Tom Phillips takes a look ahead at the upcoming FA Cup action


The FA Cup third round is upon us and the first fixture that came out of the hat was last season’s final, Arsenal against Hull City. The Gunners won the tie in extra time when former Bluebird Aaron Ramsey scored in the 109th minute to complete a memorable comeback, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. That game was 2-2 after 90 minutes as was their meeting in the Premier League this season with Steve Bruce’s men earning a point at the Emirates back in October.

The game in North London is one of four all Premier League affairs in the third round. Everton have got a home draw against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United to contend with. The two have met nine times in the FA Cup with the spoils shared at four wins a piece with one draw. The last meeting in the trophy came in 1991 where the Hammers ran out 2-1 victors at the Boleyn Ground in a quarterfinal tie. United finally succumb in the semi finals losing to Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.

The two remaining ties pit Burnley against Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City against Newcastle United. If the recent Premier League fixtures are anything to go by you can expect plenty of goals. Burnley enter the tie on the back of a 3-3 draw against Newcastle United, a rampant Spurs team put five past Chelsea while the Foxes scored two goals in quick succession to draw 2-2 with Liverpool at Anfield.


‘The magic of the FA Cup’ is a term you will hear throughout the tournament and for the non-league sides left in the cup they will be hoping the term will be said in reference to them. Blyth Spartans are no strangers to causing an upset in the cup and they will be hoping to do it once again as they welcome Birmingham City to Croft Park. The Spartans caused a huge upset when beating Hartlepool United in the second round and as a result this is their fourth time reaching this stage of the competition. The Blues are six divisions higher than their opponents and will be keen not enter the history books as another Spartans scalp.

Southport join Blyth in preparing to line up versus Championship opposition as they travel to the iPro Stadium, the home of Derby County. 1946 cup winners Derby are flying high in the second tier of English football while Southport are just one place above the drop in the Conference Premier. This is the biggest tie in decades for the Yellows, arguably their biggest game since playing in a local clash against Everton in 1968. They have played County on five occasions but not since 1957. Both were in the old Division Three North in a season that saw Southport pick up their only win over the Rams.

Three non-league teams have drawn Premier League opponents with two of them having to travel away. Wrexham have the short 42 mile journey over the border to Stoke City to face the Potters for the 17th time. In the previous 16 games the Dragons have mustered just one win, in a Division Two encounter back in 1999.

Gateshead like Wrexham currently plays their football in the Conference Premier. Their trip is a little longer as they travel south to face West Bromwich Albion. The Tynesiders have twice lost to the Baggies in the fourth round of the FA Cup back in 1949 and 1955. The have played the Midlands team a total of four times and have lost all four.

Dover Athletic are the third and final Conference team facing top flight opposition. They welcome Crystal Palace to the 1,010 seated Crabble Athletic Ground. It will the first game between the two teams have met despite being just 80 miles apart. The Whites are unbeaten in their last 16 fixtures but have not faced opposition anywhere near as strong as Palace. They did however dispatch League Two Cheltenham Town in round two.


For the second time this season reigning Premier League champions Manchester City face Sheffield Wednesday in a cup competition. Last year it was a League Cup encounter that many Owls’ fans would like to forget with City winning 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium. A total of 104 games have been played between the two but Wednesday, despite having a better overall record, are still to beat City in the FA Cup, failing to win in five attempts.

Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson is hoping for a “miracle” when Manchester United travel to Huish Park on Sunday. The Glovers are having a torrid time after being relegated from the Championship as they currently sit rock bottom of League One, five points from safety. United, on the other hand are much improved this season and under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal are third in the table after drawing with Stoke City on New Year’s Day. The Red Devils have won the FA Cup 11 times but have not lifted the trophy since 2004. In that same year Yeovil faced Liverpool and lost 2-0, United would be happy to leave with the same score line this weekend.

2015 sees Liverpool face Wimbledon for the first time since the Dons reformed in 2002, this after the club moved to Milton Keynes to form the MK Dons. The last time the two met was in 2000 in the Premier League but they are now three divisions apart. Honours are even in previous FA Cup battles with each gaining one win and one game ending all square.

Watford will be looking for revenge on Sunday as they go 23 miles through London to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea smashed five past the Hornets in the same competition in 2010. The sides have met three times at the home of Chelsea in the FA Cup and the record is not pleasing reading for fans of the Hertfordshire club. In the three games they have conceded 14 and have scored just a single goal, this coming in a 5-1 defeat in 1970. The Yellows enter the game on the back of a 4-2 win away at City while Chelsea conceded five at White Hart Lane, so could there be an upset on the cards come Sunday afternoon?

Full Fixture List
3.00pm unless stated

Friday 2 January
Cardiff v Colchester (7.45pm)

Saturday 3 January
Barnsley v Middlesbrough
Blyth Spartans v Birmingham
Bolton v Wigan
Brentford v Brighton
Cambridge v Luton
Charlton v Blackburn
Derby v Southport
Doncaster v Bristol City
Fulham v Wolves
Huddersfield v Reading
Leicester v Newcastle
Millwall v Bradford
Preston v Norwich
Rochdale v Nottingham Forest
Rotherham v Bournemouth
Tranmere v Swansea
West Brom v Gateshead

Sunday 4 January
Dover v Crystal Palace (1.00pm)
QPR v Sheffield United (1.00pm)
Sunderland v Leeds (1.00pm)
Aston Villa v Blackpool
Man City v Sheffield Wednesday
Southampton v Ipswich
Stoke v Wrexham
Yeovil v Manchester United
Chelsea v Watford
Arsenal v Hull (5.45pm)

Monday 5 January
Burnley v Tottenham (7.45pm)
Wimbledon v Liverpool (7.55pm)

Tuesday 6 January
Everton v West Ham (7.45pm)
Scunthorpe v MK Dons/Chesterfield (7.45pm)