The FA Cup 3rd round has shuffled into our sporting imaginations once again, and by and large England’s oldest cup tournament is looking remarkably good for a 132-year-old. Lee Dixon certainly has a soft spot for the trophy, and this weekend certainly comes as a welcome breather after the concentrated Premier League overdose of the festive fixture crush.
Once more, all the vital ingredients for a great cup weekend are here. Potential giant killing? Check. Everton manager David Moyes isn’t exactly a man who exudes mental fragility, yet even he will be twitching at the prospect of a Goliath moment as his side make a hiding to nothing trip to League 2’s Cheltenham on Monday night (k/o 7.45pm, ESPN).
Championship side Brighton meanwhile dumped Newcastle out of the Cup in the 4th round last year; can they do it a round earlier this Saturday (k/o 12.30pm ITV1)?
What about the heartwarming story of footballing dedication? Well, Paul Cox has provided a corker this year, as the manager of Conference side Mansfield Town hasn’t even let his wedding get in the way of his team’s FA Cup moment in the spotlight. Cox will marry on Friday, hold his reception at the club, before waking up to his second ‘big day’ of the weekend, this time against Liverpool on Saturday (k/o 4pm ESPN). Barring Liverpool fans, everyone in the country will be hoping Luis Suarez doesn’t spoil that particular party, if only for the sake of Cox’s new wife.
Even the dodgy FA Cup song has made a comeback, as the FA took it upon themselves this year to hold a competition calling for an ‘official FA Cup anthem’. Committed Gooner Lethal Bizzle in his infinite wisdom has agreed to perform his effort in front of baying fans at Upton Park, just before West Ham play Man Utd this Saturday (k/o 5.15pm, ITV1). Tough crowd, Mr Bizzle.
The fate of the draw means the Hammers aren’t the only side to feature in an all-Premier League match up. Swansea play Arsenal on Sunday (k/o 4pm ESPN) – a month ago Arsenal’s home loss to the Welsh side released a landslide of back page gossip over Arsene Wenger’s future. His tenure is looking steadier after some free scoring Christmas victories, but the FA Cup is still his side’s only realistic chance at silverware this year.
ALL THE LIVE GAMES:
Brighton & Hove Albion v Newcastle United, ITV1, k/o 12.30pm
West Ham United v Manchester United, ITV1, k/o 5.15pm
Swansea City v Arsenal, ESPN, k/o 1.30pm
Mansfield Town v Liverpool, ESPN, k/o 4pm
Cheltenham Town v Everton, ESPN, k/o 7.45pm
Highlights on ITV1 at 11pm Saturday, 10.45pm Sunday