• Joe Boulcott

FA Cup 3rd Round Preview: Could Marine cause the shock of a lifetime against Spurs?

Updated: Jan 13

As Premier League and Championship sides enter the third round of the FA Cup, lower league clubs will look to pull off upsets and make their own history in the competition. Tier eight side Marine have made it to the third round and face Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur - could they pull off the ultimate upset?

The FA Cup continues this weekend with the third round, as Premier League and Championship sides enter the competition and try to take the first step towards silverware.

This will be a little different from normal in the FA Cup, with fans not allowed in grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown rules issued by the government. The lack of atmosphere in grounds will be devastating in particular for lower-league sides, who would have been hoping to use the fans to their advantage in creating a hostile and intimidating welcome for top-flight clubs.

From Premier League holders and leaders Liverpool all the way down to level eight side Marine who have reached the third round proper for only the second time in their history.

For Marine, they will host the riches and fame of Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur, who are fourth in the top-flight as it stands – meaning this will be the biggest difference in club positions at this round in FA Cup history. Perhaps there is the chance for the biggest ever cup upset when the two meet on Sunday?

Jose Mourinho has just led his Spurs side to a Carabao Cup final after a 2-0 victory over Brentford in midweek and will view the FA Cup as another chance to end the North Londoner’s wait for a major trophy – should they not be successful in the League Cup final first.

The only disappointment for Marine will be that they are unable to play the game in front of their fans: these sort of games as a fan is what makes the beautiful game so beautiful and the FA Cup so historic and important.

The third round starts on Friday 8th January with Aston Villa meeting Liverpool for the first time since humiliating the champions 7-2 in early October 2020. Jurgen Klopp has seen his side fail to score twice in the last three games, with the Reds dropping points in all three games.

This season, Klopp’s side look set to be in a much tighter title race than last season, when they swept everyone aside with his title-winning team reaching 99 points and finishing 18 points above their nearest competition, so a first domestic trophy in England could be big for the German should Liverpool fall short in the league.

Saturday’s action kicks off with Boreham Wood hosting Millwall and a real chance for the National League side to cause a shock, with Matt Rhead (formerly part of the giant-killing Lincoln side in 2017) hoping to yet again prove the hero of the hour.

Chorley host Derby County at 12.15pm, but the visitors will be without interim manager Wayne Rooney and the entire first-team squad for the tie following a coronavirus outbreak which has forced their training ground to shut.

The Rams will be using their youth players away at the National League North side, giving the hosts the perfect opportunity to give their all and potentially come away with a priceless win.

In the 5.30pm slot, Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United visit in-form Arsenal, with the Gunners hoping for a repeat of last season in the FA Cup, after Mikel Arteta led his side to a 14th title, the most in the competition’s history.

With the youngsters at the Emirates playing well after three wins in a row, it will be a difficult call for Arteta as to whether he should bring in the more experienced players such as Willian, with the Brazilian winger struggling for game-time as of late due to Bukayo Saka’s brilliant form.

Manchester United host Watford at Old Trafford at 8pm, with the Red Devils hoping to bounce back from semi-final disappointment in the Carabao Cup in midweek, when they lost 2-0 at home to rivals Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is still looking for his first trophy as Manchester United manager so will look to players such as Juan Mata and Mason Greeenwood to provide the attacking excitement as he no doubt will look to rest star men such as Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.

On Sunday, Frank Lampard’s out-of-form Chelsea side (having lost four of their last six) welcome League Two side Morecambe to Stamford Bridge. The Blues finished as runners up in the FA Cup last season, narrowly missing out in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at Wembley and will be looking to kick-off their campaign with an easy victory this time around – an early goal would help settle any nerves.

At the same time, at 1.30pm, Marcelo Bielsa’s dynamic Leeds United visit another League Two side, Crawley Town, as the Argentine looks to guide the Whites to what would only be their second-ever FA Cup trophy.

With the nature of their play, Leeds could be the perfect cup side as they relentlessly press and attack, meaning they always stand a chance no matter who they face – even if it leads to some heavy defeats at times.

Again at 1.30pm, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City will be hosting fellow Spaniard Aitor Karanka and his Birmingham City side, who currently lie 18th in the Championship following a run of six games without victory and only picking up one point in that time.

City will be heavy favourites for this tie, as well as favourites for the tournament itself, so will be expected to dismantle the Blues in fashion in a game that will likely see Sergio Aguero get minutes under his belt in his return to full fitness.

The round ends with National League side Stockport County hosting David Moyes’s West Ham United, with Jim Gannon’s side hoping to evoke memories of 1996 when they beat the Hammers 2-1 in the League Cup on their way to reaching the semi-finals.

As always in the FA Cup, there is plenty of potential for upsets and the unlikely hero – it could be for Stockport, Chorley, Morecambe or maybe, just maybe a chance for eighth tier Marine.

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