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Big boys join minnows in FA Cup third round

Chelsea are on fire. (Darren Walsh/Chelsea via AP Images)
Roar Guru
8th December, 2015
2

Nothing beats the FA Cup third round, and the most anticipated draw of the football season (for the non-English Premier League teams that is) was run on Monday night UK time.

The games will be played as part of the Christmas-New Year festival of football on the first weekend of January after New Year’s Eve.

As per usual, it has thrown up many interesting clashes, some exclusively between EPL sides, some featuring all Football League battles, and for the four non-league teams a chance to take on the big boys of football.

There’s also the traditional lower league teams who get their big day out as they take on one of the giants of the EPL and dream of an upset to go into folklore.

Here’s a quick look through the draw for points of interest.

There are five all-EPL fixtures and 15 non-EPL teams are guaranteed to make it to Round 4.

Six fixtures feature exclusively Championship teams, while there is one fixture apiece for League One and League Two match-ups.

Six fixtures feature zero EPL clubs, while nine games pit lower leagues sides up against the cash-rich top division boys.

One team from non-league that are guaranteed a third round fixture is National League Premier (fifth tier) side Eastleigh who welcome the struggling Championship side Bolton Wanderers. They will fancy an upset and another chance at a big tie in the fourth round.

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The three remaining non-league sides need to win replays to join the fun, but have the reward of big games if they win. Grimsby Town (fifth tier) have a date at Cardiff, sixth-tier Whitehawk will travel to Everton and seventh tier Salford will welcome Derby County if they win their remaining game or replays.

Of the nine fixtures involving EPL sides versus lower league sides, the draw has been set up nicely, as a lot of the EPL sides are either taking on sides famed for strong cup runs or are playing poorly themselves.

Chelsea have been drawn against fourth-tier Leyton Orient or third-tier Scunthorpe, and given the Blues’ current run of form and exit to third-tier Bradford City last season at Stamford Bridge, an upset can’t be ruled out.

Similarly, Aston Villa look unlikely to beat many sides this year, and a trip to play Wycombe Wanderers (who made an FA Cup semi-final in 2001 and League Cup semi in 2007) don’t look much easier than their weekly EPL grind.

Swansea City, another team in poor form, will travel to League Two’s current table-toppers Oxford United. A loss there will certainly seal the fate of Garry Monk, if he hasn’t left before then.

Of the remaining EPL versus lower league clashes the two most interesting appear to be Manchester United versus Sheffield United and Exeter versus Liverpool.

On paper a club the size of Manchester United should beat the Blades, but Sheffield United have been very effective in cup competitions over the past few years. They made the semi-finals two seasons ago and knocked out EPL QPR last year. Liverpool’s trip to fourth-tier Exeter will ensure a sellout and a TV game.

Arguably the best game of the all-EPL fixtures is Tottenham versus high-flying Leicester City, although Southampton versus Crystal Palace should entertain fans and neutrals alike.

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Full fixture list
Arsenal v Sunderland
Birmingham v Bournemouth
Brentford v (Chesterfield or Walsall)
Bury v Bradford
Cardiff v (Grimsby or Shrewsbury)
Carlisle v Yeovil
Chelsea v (Leyton Orient or Scunthorpe)
Colchester v Charlton
Doncaster v Stoke
Eastleigh v Bolton
Everton v (Dagenham and Redbridge or Whitehawk)
Exeter v Liverpool
Huddersfield v Reading
Hull v Brighton
Ipswich v Portsmouth
Leeds v Rotherham
Man Utd v Sheff Utd
Middlesbrough v Burnley
Newport v Blackburn
Northampton v MK Dons
Norwich v Man City
Nottm Forest v QPR
Oxford Utd v Swansea
Peterborough v Preston
Sheff Wed v Fulham
Southampton v Crystal Palace
(Salford or Hartlepool) v Derby
Tottenham v Leicester
Watford v Newcastle
West Brom v Bristol City
West Ham v Wolves
Wycombe v Aston Villa

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