The FA Cup returns this weekend with a whole host of televised matches starting on Friday evening and running all the way through to Monday. With much to get through, here’s what you can expect to be seeing at your local Last Orders:
Liverpool v Everton | 19:55
The stand out fixture of the weekend and an unrivalled atmosphere. Liverpool will be keen to bounce back following their hugely disappointing 1-1 draw last time around with Everton. Dejan Lovren was deemed to have pushed Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the final minutes of the match after Mo Salah opened the scoring in the first half. Tomorrow’s matchup could also see two new signings make an appearance. Liverpool’s recent acquisition of Virgil van Djik adds to the already substantial list of ex-Southampton players at their club. The world’s most expensive defender will be a welcome improvement to the red’s shaky defence. Everton, meanwhile, are close to completing the signing of Cenk Tosun from Besiktas, a striker that’s had a successful goal-scoring run in this season’s Champions League.
Fleetwood Town v Leicester City | 12:45
Leicester cruised past Huddersfield on Monday to reclaim eighth position in the Premier League. This followed four losses and a draw in their previous five matches in all competitions. Claude Puel’s men will be eager to make it to the 4th round of the FA Cup without a replay when they take on Fleetwood at the Highbury Stadium. Fleetwood’s League One form has seen a few stumbling blocks since the start of the campaign. They did manage to earn back-to-back wins on the road against Oldham Athletic and Bury, but they’ve failed to bring this form to Highbury where they suffered a 2-1 loss to Bradford City on Monday. Leicester will surely be expecting a win but Fleetwood will go out to force a replay.
Norwich City v Chelsea | 17:30
Chelsea travel to Norwich for their FA Cup clash just days after their excitement-filled 2-2 draw with Arsenal. The blues have bagged four wins and a draw in their last give outings and look very confident, netting nine goals in their last three outings. Conte’s men have been solid at the back and may require that extra something to beat Norwich at Carrow Road. Norwich prepare for the game following a 2-1 win over Milwall, their second home win in three games at the this ground. They’ve also provided some great defensive displays this season and will be bound to take the game to the wire tomorrow.
Shrewsbury Town v West Ham | 14:00
Whilst the Shrews have been flying in League One this season, the Hammers have struggled to avoid a relegation fight in the Premier League. Shrewsbury are currently unbeaten in their last 6 games boasting four wins and two draws whilst West Ham come into the game fresh from a 2-1 win at home to West Brom. David Moyes has admitted that he is willing to sacrifice these kind of cup matches to ensure West Ham are playing Premier League football next season. This might not be exactly what West Ham fans want to hear but Shrewsbury could expect the Hammers to field a weakened squad on Sunday.
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal | 16:00
Arsenal begin their defence of their FA Cup crown with a potentially tough tie at Notts Forest on Sunday. Although the Championship side are struggling and have recently sacked their manager, they will definitely be up for this and will make it as tough for the Gunners as possible. Despite heroics in their recent match with Chelsea, all is not going too well for the Gunners. They currently lie fifth in the Premier League and recent draws to Liverpool and and West Brom have left bitter tastes. Forest, after a decent start, have really begun to struggle and the drop to 15th in the Championship table has been difficult for fans to swallow. They’re without a win in six, with a defeat to Sunderland the low point. They could really use a boost in this one.
Brighton v Crystal Palace | 19:45
A potentially inseparable matchup when you look at recent results, this game is interesting for a very different reason other than the teams involved. Monday’s match will mark the first English game in which VAR will be used. This new technology has seen the occasional use in various parts of Europe including Italy and Germany. Brighton drew for a sixth time in their last eight at home as they played out a 2-2 with Bournemouth, whilst Palace drew for the fifth time in eight as they held league leaders Man City to a goalless stalemate. It’s easy to see why bookmakers are generally unable to split these two. Expect a very close game indeed.