Liam Williams This is one smart extension!
There will be an upset somewhere on FA Cup third round weekend – but who will be the victims?
BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson has taken a look at all 32 of this weekend’s ties and given his verdict on who might spring a surprise.
For selected matches, including the BBC’s two televised games – Liverpool v Everton (16:01 GMT KO on Sunday) and Arsenal v Leeds United (19:56 on Monday) –BAFTA nominated comedian and Ladhood star Liam Williamshas made his predictions too.
Ladhood is a coming-of-age comedy featuring Liam, who has flashbacks to his adolescence as he deals with situations as an adult in the present day.
- Series one of Ladhood is available now on iPlayer
The show is based in Leeds, which is where Liam grew up, but he supports Manchester United – despite the best efforts of his parents.
“I think I was a Leeds fan for maybe even a few weeks when I first got into football, when I was about five or something,” he told BBC Sport.
“My dad is from London and supports Tottenham, while my mum was not a huge football fan – but they got me a Leeds kit, so I was kind of into Leeds for a bit.
“But I was never able to get to a game so there was no way of watching them live because they were not on terrestrial TV either while Manchester United were, because they were in the Champions League.
“There was a boy who lived on my street, whose family were from Manchester and he was a United fan and he sort of inspired me to be one too.
“So it was not complete glory-hunting when I chose United, but there was probably a degree of that to it – this was the mid-1990s so I got into them at the right time with the double and treble seasons around the corner.”
It is a much tougher time to be a United fan these days, but Liam thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have time to prove himself as a manager.
He added: “I am giving him a chance. I am not singing ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ but, since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, it feels like we have been pretty much the same almost every season.
“So we are performing at the level we have pretty much been at for the past few years now, only Ole is a bit more likeable.”
- How to follow the FA Cup third round on the BBC
Premier League v non-league
|Sheff Utd v AFC Fylde||104||x-x||2-0|
Gap=how many league positions separate each team
This is the first timeAFC Fyldehave played a Premier League club and it is going to be a great day for them – this is the biggest game in their history.
I don’t give them much hope of an upset because they are away from home and are in a relegation scrap in the National League, but this tie is a reward for their fans who have followed their rise up the non-league pyramid.
Some people might seeSheffield Unitedas dark horses for the FA Cup this season but I actually think they will have bigger fish to fry in terms of their league position, and focusing on finishing as high as possible in the Premier League.
At the moment the Blades are on course for their best top-flight finish since they finished sixth in 1974-75, and if they stay in the top half then that would be a big achievement in itself.
Premier League v League Two
|Man City v Port Vale||74||x-x||3-0|
Manchester Cityare the FA Cup holders and are clearly going to be overwhelming favourites to progress here.
But this is another tie where a smaller club will get a pretty substantial windfall from the gate receipts and, when you look at what has happened to the likes of Bury and Macclesfield recently, you realise how important this game is going to be forPort Vale’sfinances.
Premier League v League One
|Rochdale v Newcastle||49||x-x||1-1*|
|Burnley v Peterborough||35||x-x||2-0|
|Watford v Tranmere||46||x-x||2-0|
|Gillingham v West Ham||39||x-x||1-2|
* Away team to win at home in the replay
Newcastlehave got a whole load of injuries to deal with after their festive programme. Yes, they knew they had a busy schedule just like every else did, but if you don’t have the biggest of squads then you are not able to rotate like the big teams do, and you pay the price.
The Magpies have been left short defensively, which will not help here, and they are going to find it tough if they try to rest too many more players at Spotland (also known as Crown Oil Arena), because it is a tight little ground and it feels like the crowd are breathing down your neck.
Rochdalehad a scare themselves in the second round, where they needed a replay to beat non-league Boston, but they held Tottenham here in the fifth round a couple of years ago and they will be confident of doing the same on Saturday, and securing another pay-day with a replay.
Burnleyare on a run of three defeats in the Premier League but their tie withPeterboroughcould actually help them get their season back on track, to boost their confidence as much as anything.
The Clarets are meant to be watching Peterborough striker Ivan Toney, who is the top scorer in League One with 15 goals, so they will get a chance to take a closer look at him at Turf Moor.
WhileWatfordare on the up,Tranmereare struggling a bit – they got thumped at home by Coventry on New Year’s Day – and it is hard to see them getting anything at Vicarage Road.
There is an argument that Hornets boss Nigel Pearson will see the FA Cup as a distraction from their relegation fight so this is a game he could do without.
But, now they are winning again and playing well, another victory will build even more momentum.
NewWest Hamboss David Moyes is in a similar situation before his side’s trip toGillingham,where he is looking to keep things going, so it will be interesting to see how many changes he and Pearson make.
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