The FA Cup third round dominates the domestic action this weekend, and we predict five things that will happen over the next few days.
The world’s most famous domestic cup competition returns on Friday, with a depleted Liverpool travelling to League 2 side Exeter City to kick things off.
Lower league teams are no longer the pushovers they once were, and Jurgen Klopp will be well aware of taking The Grecians for granted.
It is a weekend littered with FA Cup matches – 32 in total – and as always, there is sure to be a shock or two along the way.
Here are five predictions we expect to come to fruition over the next few days.
Wycombe to send Villa packing
Aston Villa’s woes in the Premier League this season have been much-publicised – they have accumulated just eight points from 20 games – and their trip to League 2 outfit Wycombe Wanderers represents a good chance for them to win for once.
Despite this, it may well prove to be another very depressing afternoon for manager Remi Garde, his players and the travelling Villa supporters.
There is a decent chance that Garde will rest players, weakening his side further, and the fact that the Saturday lunchtime showdown is on television could well see Wycombe up their game.
All eyes will be on Villa and how they perform against inferior opposition, and they may well exit the FA Cup at the first hurdle. Confidence could not be lower.
Arsenal to destroy Sunderland
Arsenal have been the FA Cup kings in recent years, winning the competition in both 2014 and 2015 after final victories over Hull City and Villa, respectively.
These successes have rejuvenated the north Londoners, and they will be desperate to make it three on the bounce this season.
Arsene Wenger’s side host Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, and considering Sam Allardyce’s apparent disinterest in the FA Cup, the visitors will likely field a very weakened starting line-up.
That will play into Arsenal’s hands, and they will win by at least a three-goal margin.
A draw at best for Man City
Man City are fresh off the back of a 2-1 loss to Everton, in Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final first-leg clash at Goodison Park, and they now travel to Norwich City in the FA Cup.
It is a tricky game on paper for Manuel Pellegrini’s men – whether Alex Neil makes changes could change that, in fairness – and is one you can definitely see them slipping up in.
There isn’t always a great fighting spirit and team ethic about City, and they will lack the hunger to pick up a victory in East Anglia.
The most likely outcome is a draw, in which case they will win the replay, but another cup defeat is far from out of the question for the two-time Premier League champions.
Spurs to send Leicester crashing out
Tottenham’s home tie against high-flying Leicester City is one of the standout matches of the weekend, and is difficult to predict.
This season represents a good chance for both to enjoy a strong run in the FA Cup, but come Monday morning, one will be long gone.
Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes side are just showing a few signs of losing momentum, having not won in three matches, and they will once again fall short on Sunday.
Spurs look the real deal this season, and with Jamie Vardy out injured, it weakens Leicester significantly. A home win all the way.
A goalscoring debut for Ryan Kent
One of the most intriguing things to keep an eye out for during Liverpool’s clash with Exeter is the impact of Ryan Kent.
The teenager has been recalled from his loan spell at Coventry City, having impressed Klopp, and he is likely to start on Friday evening.
Kent showed his qualities in pre-season, producing a particularly eye-catching display against Swindon Town, and he will be a key figure against Exeter.
We are being bold and predicting a debut to remember for the classy 19-year-old forward, with him finding the back of the net. Don’t blame us if he has a shocker.
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