The key contest is undoubtedly the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.
In other games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his first match in charge of Cardiff at Newcastle, while Man Utd hope to take a step towards a first major trophy without Fergie, when they host Swansea.
Wigan are unlikely to defend their FA Cup crown but begin their attempt against MK Dons, and we look forward to seeing three non-league sides in action. Here’s to some classic giant-killings!
Crawley Town vs. Bristol Rovers
A replay of the second-round match, which finished 0-0 in the original tie. Since that game, Crawley have appointed John Gregory as manager and he has taken six points from his first three League One games in charge. They recently won 3-2 away to third-placed Leyton Orient. While Crawley are mid-table in League One, Bristol Rovers are just one point above the League Two drop-zone. The saving grace has been bringing in experienced keeper Steve Mildenhall this summer, as the Pirates have a better defensive record than any side in the bottom half. 1-0.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester City
Home advantage is the one factor which gives Blackburn a chance. Rovers have taken two-thirds of their overall points tally from matches at Ewood Park, while Man City only managed their first back-to-back away wins on New Year’s Day. The Citizens are also chasing success in the Capital One Cup as they play West Ham in the semi-final on Wednesday, so you could expect Pellegrini to field a weakened team. 1-2.
Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United
Sheffield United have improved hugely in League One since Nigel Clough took over. They have recently been on an eight-match unbeaten run, and promise to climb further away from relegation trouble. Premier League side Aston Villa are a comfortable six points clear of the drop themselves. However they have only won twice at home, so the Blades could earn themselves a replay. 1-1.
Barnsley vs. Coventry City
Want entertainment? Watch a Coventry City match. The Sky Blues have seen more goals scored in matches involving them, than any other Football League side. Coventry have conceded forty-two goals, and are mid-table in League One. Barnsley have let in exactly the same number, but are struggling at the foot of the Championship. This promises to be an entertaining contest, with a surprise away win on the cards. 1-2.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Blackpool
No team in the Football League is in worse form than Blackpool. Having been one of the early-season pace-setters in the Championship, the Tangerines have taken just one point from their last seven. Bolton are finding it difficult to gain momentum this season, and remain only a few places above the relegation zone. With Blackpool in freefall though, they can get their third home win of the season. 2-0.
Bournemouth vs. Burton Albion
Bournemouth are adjusting well to life in the Championship, and are suitably free of relegation worries to enjoy an FA Cup run. Burton currently take up an automatic promotion spot in League Two, despite having scored less goals than all but one team in the top half. Thanks partly to the signing of Phil Edwards this summer, the Brewers have massively improved their defensive record of last season as they have only conceded three goals in their last ten games. Gary Rowett’s men will be difficult for Bournemouth to break down. 1-0.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Reading
Brighton are targeting a play-off place in the Championship. They will be boosted by the fact that they have lost just one of their last six matches, and have kept a number of clean sheets in recent weeks. Reading are just one point behind their fellow-second tier opponents, but will not be in as good a mood. The Royals have lost three of their last four, and would do well to avoid another defeat. 2-1.
Bristol City vs. Watford
Two teams who appointed a new manager last month, and in both cases the change has led to improved results. Bristol City are showing promise of climbing out of the League One drop zone, having just recorded back-to-back wins following the arrival of Steve Cotterill. Watford have improved their form since Giuseppe Sannino took charge, and look set to climb back into the top half of the Championship. A cup run would build on a positive start for both managers. 1-2.
Charlton Athletic vs. Oxford United
This fixture was played back in August in the first round of the Capital One Cup. Charlton ran away with a 4-0 win, yet both teams have since had contrasting first halves of the season. Charlton are loitering above the relegation zone in the Championship, while Oxford’s League Two promotion push has been helped by their superb away form. The U’s might just earn themselves a surprise replay. 1-1.
Doncaster Rovers vs. Stevenage
Relegation threatens both clubs. After late defeat at QPR, Doncaster have fallen into the Championship relegation zone. Paul Dickov’s side have taken just two points from their last seven matches. Stevenage are in an even worse position in League One. They are now bottom of the table – five points from safety – having shipped eight goals in their last two games. Doncaster will not get a better opportunity to win a match and boost morale. 2-0.
Everton vs. QPR
Everton are chasing a European spot in the Premier League under the guidance of Roberto Martinez. QPR meanwhile, are basing their promotion push in the Championship on defensive efficiency – no team in the Football League has conceded less goals. With the aging Richard Dunne and Clint Hill at the back however, their defence will be tested against a team who play at a higher tempo to what they are used to facing. 2-0.
Grimsby Town vs. Huddersfield Town
Having been a second-tier club until 2003, a financial crisis hit Grimsby which led to a decline and they are now playing non-league football in the Conference. Currently operating without a chairman, the Mariners are aiming to get back into League Two under the guidance of Paul Hurst. On Saturday, they face a Huddersfield side sitting mid-table in the Championship. Mark Robins has a number of experienced attacking options, so the Terriers can rotate their forward line and still come out comfortable winners. 0-2.
Ipswich Town vs. Preston North End
Ipswich are unbeaten in eight, and Mick McCarthy’s side aim to hold onto their Championship play-off place. A play-off spot is the least Preston should achieve in League One, the goals of Joe Garner have moved them ten points clear of seventh. The Lilywhites have only lost once away from home all season, and could earn a replay from their trip to East Anglia. 1-1.
Kidderminster Harriers vs. Peterborough United
Kidderminster Harriers are just outside the play-offs in the Conference. Having come close to promotion last season, they are aiming to get back into the Football League for the first time since 2005. Peterborough are falling away from the automatic promotion race in League One, having lost eight of their last eleven games. Kidderminster don’t go into this one with much more momentum though – they lost their last league match 6-0. 1-3.
Macclesfield Town vs. Sheffield Wednesday
Macclesfield might be mid-table in the Conference, but they are looking for a repeat of last season’s FA Cup adventure. The Silkmen beat League One Swindon on their own turf and knocked out then-Championship leaders Cardiff in the third round, before losing narrowly to eventual winners Wigan. Sheffield Wednesday have moved out of the Championship relegation zone, since Stuart Gray became caretaker manager. The Owls must be backed to beat a team three divisions below. 0-2.
Middlesbrough vs. Hull City
Middlesbrough have enjoyed an upturn in form under new manager Aitor Karanka, having won three of their last four Championship matches. Hull City are performing above expectations in the Premier League, and now sit pretty in tenth. However, Steve Bruce admitted his squad has not benefitted from playing many games over the Christmas to New Year period. He is unlikely to prioritise the FA Cup. 2-0.
Newcastle United vs. Cardiff City
Newcastle are well-established in the top half of the Premier League, although they have lost their last two matches. Cardiff have just made the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who will embark on his first match as a Premier League manager. He reached the FA Cup final four times in his Manchester United career, but further glory may not be on his mind this time. His new Cardiff side are dangerously close to the relegation zone. 2-1.
Norwich City vs. Fulham
Like Cardiff, both Norwich and Fulham are battling relegation in the Premier League. Fulham’s survival bid has been boosted by Rene Meulensteen, as the Cottagers have already won three matches since his December appointment. One of those victories was in this same fixture on Boxing Day, and it contributed to Norwich’s current run of five games without a win. Avoiding the drop is a bigger priority for both clubs. 1-1.
Rochdale vs. Leeds United
A poor ‘goals against’ record continues to be Rochdale’s problem. They conceded 70 last season – more than any other top-half team in the Football League – and their League Two promotion hopes were recently dented by a 3-0 loss at Scunthorpe. They have not got the best chance to re-organize here, when faced with Ross McCormack. In England only Luis Suarez has scored more goals than Leeds’ top marksman, who holds the key to their play-off ambitions. This could be a high-scoring affair. 2-3.
Southampton vs. Burnley
Southampton have only won one of their last nine Premier League matches. Although, the Saints played five of the top six teams in that time and remain fairly stable in the top half. Burnley meanwhile, are fighting tooth and nail for automatic promotion in the Championship. With a very small squad, Sean Dyche’s side would not benefit from a run of games in the FA Cup. 3-0.
Southend United vs. Millwall
Southend are well in the mix for promotion in League Two, having lost just one of their last ten matches. Only Chesterfield have conceded less goals than the Shrimpers and since arriving in the summer, Phil Brown has pulled off a coup by signing John White and making him captain in defence. Millwall have a good recent history in the FA Cup, having reached the final in 2004 and semi-finals last season. At the moment though they are struggling against relegation from the Championship, and are still deciding on their next full-time manager. Southend can take advantage of this. 2-1.
Stoke City vs. Leicester City
In the Premier League, Stoke have not lost at home since September and have an excellent defensive record at the Britannia Stadium. After a four-game winning streak, Leicester have moved to the top of the Championship and Nigel Pearson’s side will fancy their chances of getting into the Premier League. Stoke look comfortable in mid-table and a cup run would add some excitement to Mark Hughes’s first season in charge. 2-0.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace
Keith Downing has steadied the ship at West Brom – they have not lost any of his first few games in charge. The Baggies are now four points from the Premier League drop zone where Crystal Palace currently sit. The Eagles have shown signs of revival under new manager Tony Pulis. At Stoke, Pulis has often favoured a cup run, and notably took them to the final in 2011. However, he will prioritise staying up this time with the relegation battle so tight. 2-1.
Wigan Athletic vs. MK Dons
Uwe Rosler is unbeaten as manager of Wigan, and that is unlikely to change against an MK Dons side who are stuck mid-table in League One. Patrick Bamford’s loan will expire after this match, which will be a worry for boss Karl Robinson as he has scored fifteen of their thirty-six league goals this season. Having already played six matches in the Europa League this season, Wigan are hardly in need of another run of games, but they have more quality than their opponents. 2-0.
Yeovil Town vs. Leyton Orient
Two teams who look likely to swap divisions this summer. Yeovil are joint-bottom of the Championship and five points from safety. As such a low-profile club, every league match they play has the feel of a cup game for the Glovers. By contrast, promotion from League One looks a real possibility for Russell Slade’s Leyton Orient. At the moment, the Orient have arguably a stronger squad. 1-2.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The highlight of the third round. A North London derby between an Arsenal side top of the table, and a Tottenham side who have made a strong start to life under Tim Sherwood. With an intense battle for the title on his hands, Arsene Wenger might be tempted to rotate his team slightly after a congested period of matches. Tottenham recently won at Old Trafford, and could be back in the race for a Champions League spot. This match might end up being something of an anti-climax. 0-0.
Nottingham Forest vs. West Ham United
Both teams have had their respective ambitions hindered by crushing injury problems. Nottingham Forest are seven Championship matches unbeaten, which has been made all the more impressive by the loss of key defenders and captain Chris Cohen. West Ham have been without Winston Reid and Andy Carroll for much of the season, meaning they are deep in relegation trouble in the Premier League. If this is a top flight fixture next season, both teams will have done exceptionally well. 1-1.
Sunderland vs. Carlisle United
Like West Ham, Sunderland are looking more than capable of the drop as they sit bottom of the Premier League. League One side Carlisle have not won away since October, and are closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs. Without home advantage, Graham Kavanagh’s side do not look in the best place to force an upset. 2-0.
Derby County vs. Chelsea
A home defeat to Wigan ended Derby’s incredible run of form, but the Rams still have automatic promotion in their sights. Chelsea must always be fancied against Championship opposition, simply due to the number of quality attacking players they have in their squad. 0-3.
Liverpool vs. Oldham Athletic
In last season’s FA Cup, these two teams were involved in the shock of the fourth round. Oldham knocked Liverpool out in a 3-2 thriller at Boundary Park, thanks to two-goal hero Matt Smith. This time around they will be without both Smith, who has signed for Leeds, and the benefit of home advantage. Liverpool should put that result to bed with an easy win. 3-0.
Port Vale vs. Plymouth Argyle
Port Vale are chasing a play-off spot in League One. They have been fairly strong at home lately, having won three of their last four at Vale Park. They host Plymouth who, after a fine run of form, are 11 points clear of the relegation zone in League Two. The Pilgrims have shown good progress after a couple of difficult seasons, but Port Vale should get the better of them here. 2-1.
Manchester United vs. Swansea City
David Moyes will be targeting the FA Cup as potential salvation for Man United’s atrocious start to life without Fergie. The Red Devils have a proud history in the competition, but have not won it since 2004. Swansea have already got to cope with more Europa League games this February, and their players are lacking some of the energy they had last season. The last thing Laudrup will want is another series of games, so this is United’s for the taking. 2-0.