The FA Cup third round is still considered one of the most important dates in the football calendar with many famous giant killings overs the years lighting up early January.
Recently the bigger clubs have tended to rotate their squads so the chance of David slaying Goliath has increased. At this stage in 1984, I enjoyed one of the best days in my managerial career when I was in charge of Bournemouth, who defeated Manchester United at the old Dean Court.
Ironically, a repeat of that result wouldn’t cause that big a stir these days but 36 years ago, Bournemouth were in Division Three so it was an incredible achievement.
There will be plenty of clubs hoping for their moment of glory this weekend and second-guessing team news will be crucial for punters.
Just down the south coast from Bournemouth, rivals Southampton are enjoying a great run of form in the Premier League and inspired by red hot forward Danny Ings are putting daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.
The fans will hope for a good cup run and they host championship outfit Huddersfeld Town at St Marys. The Yorkshire side are also showing much-improved form under emerging manager Danny Cowley although they arrive following a 2-5 home reverse against Stoke on New Years day.
Town fans are still looking nervously over their shoulders with the threat of League One football next term so it would be no surprise if they rotated and concentrated on survival this term.
With five wins from their latest eight matches, including notable scalps of Spurs and Chelsea, the Saints are flying and should continue their excellent form with progression into round four.
Brighton came close to lifting the cup in 83 before losing in a replay to Manchester United and fans will hope the Seagulls can make a decent run this time.
They are one of many clubs fighting for survival in the top flight but are fairly strong at home and have taken four points from the last two PL games at the Falmer stadium.
Record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh had been somewhat of a forgotten man but has scored in each of those two matches and hopes are high he can help the club further this campaign.
Brighton host championship opposition too with South Yorkshire club Sheffield Wednesday making the long trip south. The Owls had put themselves firmly in the playoff picture until recently but three defeats on the bounce has seen them drop to eighth and taken the shine off new manager Garry Monk’s promising start.
Wednesday may feel that aiming for promotion from the second tier is a priority and in an open section, they are still well poised to make the top six. Albion can therefore secure the win and make it a good day for South coast clubs.
Two championship teams at the opposite end of the table meet at Griffin Park where Brentford would love to sign off their final season at the old ground with a deep cup run.
Stoke enjoyed their biggest victory of the campaign with that trouncing at Huddersfield but still find themselves just above the drop zone. It is likely to be a nervous second half of the season for the Potteries’ faithful and it would be no surprise if the club decided the FA Cup may well be an unwanted distraction on this occasion.
High-flying Brentford are still hoping to catch West Brom and Leeds for one of the automatic promotion spots and star marksman Ollie Watkins bagged a brace in a 4-0 thumping of Bristol City at Ashton Gate. With seventeen championship goals, the in-form forward is only one behind the leader and is crucial to the Bees promotion hopes.
I fully expect Brentford to keep the foot firmly on the pedal and enjoy FA Cup success on Saturday afternoon.
Crystal Palace fans will forever remember their exciting 4-3 semi-final victory over Liverpool in 1990 and in all honesty, that must go down as one of the best semi-finals in the competition’s history.
The Eagles were ultimately defeated in the final but fans in South London would love a repeat of that season’s famous run. They host Derby on Sunday afternoon is what should be an intriguing clash. County are looking for big improvement in 2020 with the arrival of the legendary Wayne Rooney giving the club a lift.
He inspired his new teammates to a 2-1 midweek win over Barnsley and the Midlands club will look to make a push for the playoffs in the second half of their campaign.
With only one loss in their last eight matches, Palace are a tougher nut to crack these days, however, and will be confident they will have a little bit too much quality for their visitors.
One of the ties of the round must surely be at Anfield where Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton go head to head.
There have been plenty of cracking matches in the competition over the years between the pair and this encounter will mean just as much.
Liverpool are having an incredible season and with no defeats in the league have already placed one hand on the title having built a useful 13-point lead at the summit.
They were cosy 2-0 winners over Sheffield United on Thursday but worryingly picked up further injuries and may very well have to ask youth players to help out this Sunday.
Everton appointed Carlo Ancelotti, who has made an immediate impact at Goodison and the Toffees will feel a top-six assault is now a reasonable target.
They will make the short hop across the city with a full squad and sensing blood will be very strong opponents. However, even a depleted Liverpool squad remains extremely strong and any team fielding Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane has to start as warm favourites. It will be close but the reds have that winning mentality and can qualify.