It’s fair to say that last night’s FA Cup Third Round draw did not disappoint. As well as throwing up several local derbies, there are also a handful of potential giant-killings on the cards.
We’ve picked the five top ties you can’t miss when cup fever returns in January…
Shrewsbury Town v West Ham United
If there’s one Round Three giant-killing which looks very plausible, it’s this. After a relegation battle in League One last year, the Shrews have surprised everyone this season.
They currently sit second in the table, with Paul Hurst’s men boasting an enviable defensive record. The Shropshire club also have pedigree in pulling off FA Cup shocks. As a fourth-tier side, they knocked out Everton in 2003.
As for David Moyes’ Irons, they’re in trouble right now. The unhappy Hammers haven’t won in seven games at present. Unless that form improves in the next few weeks, we fancy the Shrews to at least battle their way to a replay.
Liverpool v Everton
Both halves of Merseyside have a proud FA Cup history. The Reds have lifted this trophy seven times, while that figure is five for the Toffees. However, neither have won it since Liverpool beat the Irons at the Millennium Stadium in 2006.
These sides played out two FA Cup Finals in late 1980s, with Ian Rush netting the winner for the Anfield club on both occasions.
But that was then, and this is now. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have a swashbuckling side of entertainers. And their counterparts look to be picking up with Sam Allardyce in charge. This should be a corker of a derby day!
Coventry City v Stoke City
Times have been tough for the Sky Blues in the past two decades, but they finally seem to be coming out of the storm. EFL Trophy winners last season, they currently occupy the play-off spots in League Two.
And the 1987 FA Cup winners will be looking to build on that against the Potters. They reached the Final of this competition in 2011, but exited at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 3rd Round last year. This all-Midlands tie promises to be a cracker.
Middlesbrough v Sunderland
It’s often argued that the North-East has the most ‘football mad’ fans on these isles, and the atmosphere at games between these sides is always something special.
The last clash saw a crowd of over 29,000 turn out for November’s Championship game, which yielded a fourth Boro victory in succession.
Fittingly, for a fixture packed with local pride, it was the Teessiders’ teenage youth product Marcus Tavernier who grabbed the winner in November. Could another home-grown hero steal the headlines at a noisy Riverside Stadium next month?
Norwich City v Chelsea
The Canaries took over 8,000 fans to the capital for last month’s Carabao Cup tie at Arsenal. And the Norfolk club almost came away with a shock victory – only for Gunners prodigy Eddie Nketiah to break the visitors’ hearts.
However, they have another chance to take a huge Premier League scalp as the Blues visit Carrow Road. Admittedly, the last weekend when Norwich won this fixture, East 17 were hitting the top of the charts with ‘Stay Another Day’ in 1994.
Still, after their valiant effort at the Emirates, could the Canaries be staying in the hat for the Fourth Round?
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing