Although the FA Cup won’t count towards JustArsenal’s predictions table, I thought I would give my opinion on how the Premiership sides will fare in the third round. Remember all ties must be settled on the day, meaning there will be extra time then penalties if scores are tied after 90 minutes. In theory that should increase the chances of an upset.
Like last year, it’s increasingly looking like this competition will be Arsenal’s most likely route to any kind of happiness this season, and could even turn out our only route to Europe.
Remember when some gooners forced Arsene out for only finishing 4th and winning the odd FA Cup? A few years later we still win the odd FA Cup, but now don’t finish anywhere near the top 4.
Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool
Even when it was clear Liverpool were going to be Champions last season Jurgen Klopp played weak sides in the Cups, such is his insistence that his players get overplayed. He even at one point didn’t even bother himself to take charge of a 4th round replay because he had promised his first team a rest.
If that was his stance when his lead at the top was double figures, common sense says it won’t change when he’s on joint points with Man United, after a hectic schedule and playing 4 nights after being away from home.
As I write this though Villa have confirmed an Covid outbreak at the club…
Wolves 2-0 Palace
It will suit the Eagles to let Wolves have the ball and hit Wolves on the break, but Roy Hodgson will be playing into the host’s hands if he doesn’t pick his strongest 11 which he’s kind of hinted will be his plan.
Everton 3-0 Rotherham
As shown by the squads he put out in the League Cup, Carlo Ancelotti will take the FA Cup seriously. If any side will make wholesale changes it will be the visitors, given they are near the bottom of the Championship.
Blackpool 2-2 West Brom (Blackpool win in extra time 3-2)
After a hectic schedule, I can see Sam Allardyce playing his reserves here, giving his first team a free two weeks to work and learn new things on the training pitch so they are prepared for Wolves away a week on Saturday.
Bristol Rovers 2-1 Sheffield United
Chris Wilder can’t win here. His team are yet to win in the League so could do without the embarrassment of being knocked out by League one opposition. Yet Tuesday’s home match with Newcastle is must-win so he might feel compelled to play a shadow team this weekend
Burnley 1-1 MK Dons (Burnley win in extra time 2-1)
Like Sean Dyche has said throughout Christmas, Burnley are looking like their old selves. In the past though he hasn’t always taken this competition seriously and given that the Clarets are playing Tuesday, I think he will be pragmatic with his line-up. That will give the visitors a slight chance of an upset.
QPR 1-0 Fulham
Fulham probably would have made wholesale changes anyway, but even more so now considering the COVID outbreak at the club. Scott Parker might be forced to play youngsters so I’m not sure how much of an upset it would be if the Championship side won.
Stoke 1-3 Leicester
Just like over Xmas, Brendan Rodgers will pick and choose Jamie Vardy’s games and give him a rest here. Apart from that the Foxes’ manager has confirmed he will pick his usual squad.
This is one of those ties where home fans would have made it a lot tougher for the visitors.
Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle
Not sure why some gooners are talking about starting some of our youngsters? Just like last season the FA Cup represents our best chance of winning anything and qualifying for Europe.
Beating two teams in the bottom 4 is not a reason to think we suddenly have anything to fight for in the Premier League (the arrogance from some gooners startles me).
Newcastle will simply park the bus and play for penalties, so this is the perfect chance to carry on our run. It makes sense for Arteta to keep fielding a winning team so they can carry on that momentum into next week.
Man United 3-0 Watford
A massive week for Man United. If they get a result in midweek, they head to Anfield next weekend top of the League. Ole will rest key talent like Fernandes but has spoken about the importance of United winning a trophy so will name a strong enough 11 to win comfortably
Chelsea 4-0 Morecambe
Lampard has one of the best squads so can make wholesale changes and still expect a comfortable win. One or two summer signings might benefit from a run out here to re-find the confidence they lost over Xmas? (Such as a Werner or Ziyech?)
Crawley 2-4 Leeds
Bielsa rested players at this stage last season when promotion was at stake, so I assume he will do the same now in a relegation fight, especially given the high pressing style they like to play.
The personnel might be different, but the tactics will be the same meaning this should be an entertaining tie.
City 5-0 Birmingham
Say the same thing about City every year regarding the Cups. They have a squad where they can play their second XI and still beat most teams. Is it me though or do they keep getting kind draws?
Marine 0-6 Spurs
The moment Jose took the Spurs job I made them favourites for the League Cup. We won’t hear the end of it if they win April’s Final. They will easily advance here as well.
Newport 2-1 Brighton
Newport are near the top of League 2 while Brighton haven’t won in 8. If fans were in attendance this would be my first pick for the upset of the round. The romantic in me still says a home win.
Stockport 0-4 West Ham
Again with zero fans it takes away the chance of an upset. Over the years West Ham are the type to have the wrong attitude for this type of tie, but under David Moyes they are mentally made of stronger stuff.
XMAS RESULTS TABLE UPDATED
As I live on my own, I was allowed to travel to my support bubble over Xmas. Then I was in contact with someone who found out had been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID so I am isolating myself having not felt well.
So it took me a while to backdate scores and update the table. As you can imagine it took a while so if anything doesn’t look correct, send me a message.
Top 24 qualify for Euros
Dan Kit 103
Highbury Hero 84
Admin pat 63
Joe Gunner 58
Fatorisa Festus Omoboboji 54
Kenya 001 51
Sue P 46
Gibson Power 42
Ernie Blaze 29
S Emirates 20
Quincy Okereke 19
Gunner 4 life 19
Jimmy Bauer 18
Frank Brady 17
Kev 82- 17
Third Man jw 12
Gunner Ray 11
ICW – 9
Once Great 8
Invader Zim 8
Gerylo – 7
Ba Thea 7
Dendride – 7
Omwabu Robinson 4
Collins otanchi masea 6
Sean Williams 6
Eastside Gooner 5
Deluded One 5
Classy Gunner 4
Uzi Ozil 4
One and Only Making Love OnCampus 4
Chairman Gallani 1
Anti- kev 1