The Emirates FA Cup returns this weekend with the third round proper taking place between Friday and Monday.
Ahead of a packed weekend of Cup action, we’ve selected five things to look out for across the 32 ties.
- Third Round Proper
- 5-8 January 2018
- Winning clubs receive £67,500
- Watch on BBC and BT Sport
The third round kicks-off on Friday evening with one of the biggest derby games in English football, as Liverpool host neighbours Everton at Anfield. The Merseyside giants have racked up a number of memorable FA Cup meetings over the years, most recently in 2009 when the teams shared a 1-1 draw at Anfield to set up a replay at Goodison Park. That game went to extra time, before Dan Gosling settled it with a memorable goal. Unfortunately for the young midfielder, his big moment was missed by the live TV audience, with a badly-timed broadcasting blunder seeing an advert shown over the game just as the Devonian slotted home the winner.
Perhaps their most famous meeting was in February 1991, when the teams shared a pulsating 4-4 draw at Goodison Park in a fifth round replay in what turned out to be Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge of the Reds and what is also often referred to as the best Merseyside derby to date. The second replay a week later didn’t share quite the same excitement, but the Toffees edged through thanks to Dave Watson’s winning goal.
The other big derby in this season’s third round comes on the south coast, where Brighton & Hove Albion face Crystal Palace at the Amex Stadium. Whilst the proximity of the two clubs isn’t quite as close as those in Liverpool, the rivalry is just as fierce.
So VAR, so good…
The aforementioned clash between Brighton and Palace is also significant in this season’s competition as it will be the first competitive game in English football to feature a Video Assistant Referee, with the system being trialled from the third round onwards. Neil Swarbrick is the man who has the honour of being the first VAR official in the Emirates FA Cup and he will be assisted by Peter Kirkup at the Amex Stadium, with Andre Marriner taking charge on the pitch.
The trial forms part of the International Football Association Board’s [IFAB] global development of the VAR system and it’s intended that the technology will then be used for the remainder of the competition at a select number of fixtures.
VARs are being trialled for clear and obvious errors, or serious missed incidents, relating to specific incidents in three ‘game changing’ situations – goals, penalty/no penalty decisions and straight red cards, plus mistaken identity for red or yellow cards.
The VAR automatically checks every such incident and if a clear and obvious error has occurred the referee is informed; the referee can then confirm or change the original decision based on the information from the VAR, or the referee looks at a replay on the side of the pitch. The original decision is only changed if it was clearly and obviously wrong.
When Fleetwood Town saw off the challenge of non-League outfit Hereford in their second round replay last month, not only did they secure a home tie against Premier League side Leicester City but also a return to Highbury Stadium for a former favourite.
Jamie Vardy was signed by the Foxes from Fleetwood, then a non-League side themselves, back in 2012 for a reported fee of £1m.
The Sheffield-born striker only spent one season on the Fylde coast after joining from FC Halifax Town, but with an eye-catching record of 31 goals in 36 games as Fleetwood won the National League (then Conference) title and promotion in the EFL, he was crowned as their player of the year and left a hero.
Since then, Vardy has gone on to become an England international and pick up a Premier League winners’ medal and is sure to get a warm welcome back to Lancashire on Saturday.
Away day atmosphere
With Emirates FA Cup rules allowing travelling supporters a greater share of tickets, you can expect to see some large away followings making their way around the country.
Luton Town have sold over 7200 tickets for their lengthy trip to face Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday and with Nathan Jones’ team playing with plenty of confidence in League Two, they will head to the north-east with hope of springing an upset.
There’s a somewhat shorter journey for the 7400 Burnley fans who will be heading to see their team face Manchester City at the same time.
Expect a similarly large away following from Derby County for their game with Manchester United on Friday and Leeds United at AFC Newport County on Sunday.
Seven on TV
If you’re not venturing out to a game this weekend, then there’s no shortage of ties being screened live on television across the four days. It starts on Friday when BBC will screen the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, before Fleetwood Town’s tie with Leicester City is on the same channel at 12.30pm on Saturday.
You can then see Chelsea’s trip to face Norwich City on BT Sport on Saturday evening, with the game at Carrow Road kicking-off at 5.30pm.
Sunday sees another three games get the TV treatment, starting at midday when AFC Newport County’s game with Leeds United is live on BBC Wales. That is followed at 2pm on BBC One when League One high-fliers Shrewsbury Town will be looking to cause an upset against West Ham United, whose boss David Moyes already knows what defeat to the Shrews is like after losing a tie there as Everton manager in the third round of 2003. Finally, BT Sport will screen Arsenal’s trip to Nottingham Forest at 4pm to round off Sunday’s action.
Monday evening sees the final tie of the round at the Amex Stadium between Brighton and Palace, with that game being shown live on BT BSport.