The third round of the F.A. Cup is one of the red-letter days on the English football schedule. Packed with incident, the odd ‘cupset’ often provides betting fans with some much-needed profit to kick off the year.
In 2021, which teams will see their way safely through to Round 4, and which will be knocked out of the oldest cup competition in football to ‘focus on the league’?
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace (Friday, 7.45pm GMT kick-off)
If Aston Villa’s home match against Liverpool is called off, then this game will kick off the action. Even if the game at Villa Park goes ahead, it’s likely that due to a COVID outbreak for the hosts, it’ll be an easy victory for Liverpool.
That won’t be the case at Molineux, where Wolves host Crystal Palace. Both teams have blown hot and cold this season, and for that reason, we think the Eagles may have the edge over the hosts. The Old Gold have a serious long-term injury problem in Raul Jimenez being out and while others have deputised well such as Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto, young alternatives often run out of energy at some point in the season and the Midlands already look a bit leggy.
Palace, by contrast, look a dangerous side away from Selhurst Park and can threaten Wolves with the pace and trickery of Wilfried Zaha backed up by a combative, compact midfield and defence. We like the London side to plunder a victory that takes them into Round 4.
Our tip: Crystal Palace to win (31/10)
Queens Park Rangers vs. Fulham (Saturday, 3pm GMT kick-off)
A London derby at Loftus Road will see the Premier League strugglers visit their Championship rivals from last season. Often in games such as these, where two fairly closely matched sides meet with one having been promoted in the previous campaign, the ones who were left behind put up a lot of a show in the early part of the game.
That could easily happen here, with Rangers sure to go for their visitors, bolstered by the fact that they took the lead in both last season’s Championship games between the two sides. On both occasions, however, Fulham came back to win 2-1, and with Ivan Cavaleiro likely to be in the side given Aleksandar Mitrovic’s recent disciplinary issues, a close-knit Premier League outfit can win through to the next round.
Our tip: Cavaleiro to score and Fulham to win (4/1) & Fulham to win from behind (14/1)
Arsenal vs. Newcastle United (5.30pm GMT kick-off)
Last year’s winners have been in mixed form in the Premier League this season, but it the F.A. Cup that finished just a few months ago, The Gunners beat Manchester City in the semi-final before coming from behind to triumph against Chelsea in stunning fashion in the final:
With The Magpies the visitors this weekend, Arsenal will have to be at their best to win, with Newcastle more dangerous than some of their own fans have credited this season. With Callum Wilson and Andy Carroll different threats, the Toon Army could yet be cheering at some point in the 90 minutes.
The issue for Steve Bruce’s side, however, is that Arsenal have more than enough in reserve to cause the away side a lot of problems themselves. Because of that, we think both sides will find the net in an entertaining game that The Gunners just edge.
Our tip: Arsenal to win and both teams to score (21/10)
F.A. Cup 3rd Round Fixtures:
Friday 8th January
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool (7.45pm GMT kick-off)
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace (7.45pm GMT kick-off)
Saturday 9th January
Boreham Wood vs. Millwall (12noon GMT kick-off)
Everton vs. Rotherham United (12noon GMT kick-off)
Luton Town vs. Reading (12noon GMT kick-off)
Norwich City vs. Coventry City (12noon GMT kick-off)
Nottingham Forest vs. Cardiff City (12noon GMT kick-off)
Chorley vs. Derby County (12.15pm GMT kick-off)
Blackburn Rovers vs. Doncaster Rovers (3pm GMT kick-off)
Blackpool vs. West Bromwich Albion (3pm GMT kick-off)
Bristol Rovers vs. Sheffield United (3pm GMT kick-off)
Burnley vs. Milton Keynes Dons (3pm GMT kick-off)
Exeter City vs. Sheffield Wednesday (3pm GMT kick-off)
Oldham Athletic vs. Bournemouth (3pm GMT kick-off)
Queens Park Rangers vs. Fulham (3pm GMT kick-off)
Stevenage vs. Swansea City (3pm GMT kick-off)
Stoke City vs. Leicester City (3pm GMT kick-off)
Wycombe Wanderers vs. Preston North End (3pm GMT kick-off)
Arsenal vs. Newcastle United (5.30pm GMT kick-off)
Brentford vs. Middlesbrough (6pm GMT kick-off)
Huddersfield Town vs. Plymouth Argyle (6pm GMT kick-off)
Manchester United vs. Watford (8pm GMT kick-off)
Southampton vs. Shrewsbury Town (8pm GMT kick-off)
Sunday 10th January
Barnsley vs. Tranmere Rovers (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Bristol City vs. Portsmouth (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Chelsea vs. Morecambe (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Cheltenham Town vs. Mansfield Town (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Crawley Town vs. Leeds United (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Manchester City vs. Birmingham City (1.30pm GMT kick-off)
Marine vs. Tottenham Hotspur (5pm GMT kick-off)
Newport County vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (7.45pm GMT kick-off)
Monday 11th January
Stockport County vs. West Ham United (8pm GMT kick-off)