FA Cup 3rd Round: Can Ancelotti Avoid Anfield Agony?9 min read
The 3rd Round of the FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend and there are at least a couple of mouth-watering ties to look forward to.
Rochdale v Newcastle United
Injury-hit Newcastle have lost their last three in the Premier League, but I expect them to bounce back at the Crown Oil Stadium against a Rochdale side who gained a valuable and much-needed win at Accrington Stanley in League One midweek.
The BT Sport cameras are in Lancashire looking for a Cup shock, but I expect United to come through a low-scoring affair.
Tip: Newcastle to win to nil
Brighton & Hove Albion v Sheffield Wednesday
Brighton picked up their first-ever point in a league game against Chelsea following a 1-1 draw at the Amex at New Year, while Wednesday lost their third successive league game courtesy of the only goal of the game at Hillsborough against Hull – dropping out of the play-off places in the Championship in the process.
Getting back into the top six in the table is the priority for the Owls although manager Garry Monk will want to see a return to form from his side on the south coast. I think it will be the hosts who make it through to the 4th Round at the first time of asking.
Tip: Brighton to win
Fulham v Aston Villa
Villa gained a vital win at Burnley to move out of the bottom three in the Premier League and, with the 1st leg of the League Cup semi-final with Leicester City on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what side Dean Smith plays at Craven Cottage.
Jack Grealish continues to impress but, even if he is rested ahead of the trip to the King Power next week, I expect Villa to go through following an entertaining clash.
Fulham currently sit fifth in the Championship and beat leaders Leeds at home over the Festive period, but they lost at home to Reading on Wednesday and a return to the top-flight is their priority this season.
Tip: Villa to win and both teams to score
Preston North End v Norwich City
The hosts have lost their last two home games in the Championship – results which have seen them drop out of the play-off spots, but I believe they will get a replay against a Norwich side who currently prop up the Premier League table.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1
Leicester City v Wigan Athletic
Wigan gained a tremendous win at Birmingham on New Year’s Day, but Leicester have bounced back from their defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool in recent days and they totally dominated Newcastle at St James’ Park in their last game with a staggering 77 Champions League remain the priority, I would be surprised if Liverpool did not field a strong side against their Merseyside rivals.
It is likely to be another wonderful Anfield occasion and I expect to see Liverpool make it through to the next round.
Tip: Liverpool to win and both teams to score
Gillingham v West Ham United
West Ham will be buoyed by their emphatic win against Bournemouth in David Moyes first game back in charge of the club and I expect the Hammers to build on that win when they visit a Gillingham side unbeaten in their last seven games.
The Gills showed their mettle when coming from a goal down to get a point at Portsmouth at New Year, but this looked a different West Ham side – albeit against a disappointing Bournemouth – and the visitors will have plenty of vocal support at Priestfield.
Tip: West Ham to win
Arsenal v Leeds United
Arsenal were more like the Gunners of old when they brushed aside Manchester United at the Emirates last time out and I would be surprised if they were not able to follow up against a Leeds side whose priority must be a return to the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta does appear to be getting more out of Mesut Ozil than the previous manager and the German playmaker was a revelation against United. There appears to be more passion and belief around Arsenal at present and I believe they will pass what promises to be a real test from a Leeds side who have picked up four points from difficult trips to Birmingham and West Brom in recent days.
Tip: Arsenal to win and both teams to score