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FA Cup third round to bring some joy in January

Fierce rivalries, fairy tales and good old cup classics could attract a crowd at the start of the year

As far as footballing clichés go – and there’s plenty of competition – ‘the magic of the cup’ is right up there.

But clichés are clichés for a reason, and every season the FA Cup produces the kind of matches that make us remember why it has cast a spell over so many football fans.

This year’s third-round draw was no exception. There was no shock at Slough Town’s Arbour Town ground as the minnows from the seventh tier of English football lost 4-0 to Rochdale, but the draw in the clubhouse before the game got underway delivered one or two truly memorable moments.

The first month of the year is rarely brilliant for the licensed trade, even more so now with the advent of Dry January, but hopefully a few cracking FA Cup ties can help you pull in a crowd on that tricky first weekend of the new year.

Here are a few third-round highlights.


Liverpool v Everton

There were gasps in the room when Everton followed their Merseyside rivals out of the bag. It’s one of the biggest games in English football and should make for a thrilling encounter. The last time they faced each other in the FA Cup was in the 2012 semi-final when Andy Carroll scored the winner.

They’ve met in finals too. In 1986 Liverpool won 3-1 and then three years later in 1989 they were taken to extra-time, Ian Rush scoring twice as the red half of the city celebrated a 3-2 win.


Norwich v Chelsea

The City slickers head to East Anglia in a tie they will be expected to win. If the last meeting between the two is anything to go by they won’t have it all their own way. Back in 2016 they came away from Carrow Road with a narrow 2-1 victory. This time our cameras will be there to capture the action. We’d love a goal like the famous backheel Gianfranco Zola scored in an FA Cup replay when they last met in the cup 17 years ago. Yes, 17. That makes us feel old too.

Live on BT Sport, Saturday January 6, 5pm


Hereford/Fleetwood v Leicester

There’s interest in this one whoever the 2016 Premier League champs end up playing. If it’s Hereford, they will be up against the lowest ranked team left in the competition in a clash that screams potential giant-killing. If they face Fleetwood it will give Jamie Vardy a chance to return to the ground where his incredible rags to riches story began. He scored 34 goals for the then Conference side in 2012 before Leicester signed him for £1m.


Nottingham Forest v Arsenal

Jermaine Jenas sheepishly apologised to fans of his old club when they were paired with Arsenal in the draw. The Gunners have an incredible record, winning three FA Cups in the four years, including last season when they beat Chelsea in the final. Forest have a similar record, having won three FA Cup ties in the same period of time. Can they shock the holders?

Live on BT Sport, Sunday January 7, 3.30pm 


Brighton v Crystal Palace

No sooner had the Merseyside rivals come out of the hat then this tasty little clash immediately followed. The recent Premier League tie was not the most thrilling 0-0 draw, but the cup could provide a little extra drama. The rivalry between the Seagulls and the Eagles goes back years but came into full force when they met in – you’ve guessed it – the FA Cup in 1976. In a controversial and ill-tempered affair Palace won the second replay 1-0.

Live on BT Sport, Monday, January 8, 7pm


  • FA Cup third round ties will be played Friday January 5 to Monday January 8. BT Sport will exclusively broadcast 24 Emirates FA Cup live this season.