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The crowded holiday schedule across English soccer continues on January 5-8 with the third round of the FA Cup. This is the round in which all of the Premier League teams join the competition, and a few have gotten the unlucky draw of having to play against each other so early on.
The teams matched up with one another will play 90 minutes. Should the clubs still be on level terms after those 90 minutes, the match will be halted, and a new 90-minute match will take place at the opposing team's venue at some point in the next couple weeks.
Perhaps the biggest game of the bunch is the duel between Liverpool and Everton. It's one of the two that will kick off play on Friday along with Manchester United and Derby County. The Reds are in decent form at the moment, but they have a lot of problems at the back that need to be resolved. This could also be Wayne Rooney's last shot at the FA Cup, knowing that he's towards the end of his career with Everton.
Burnley has the unfortunate task of playing against red hot Manchester City at the Etihad, almost assuming that it will be one of the first Premier League teams to go out of the FA Cup.
Brighton will also play host to Crystal Palace in a battle of two of England's middling top-flight teams.
Normally speaking, we look for non-league teams to rise up and make a big run in the FA Cup, but we're in the third round of the competition, and there isn't a single non-league side remaining. It's the first time in almost seven decades that has been the case.
There are several teams from League Two, England's fourth division, who will have a chance to make a name for themselves over the weekend.
Coventry City, a team that has been up as high as Championship over the course of the last several seasons, is now in the fourth division. The Sky Blues have drawn home against EPL side, Stoke City, a team that is struggling to keep its head above the relegation zone in the Premier League.
Exeter City, a team that is a decade and change removed from playing to a scoreless draw at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, now has West Brom at home in another League Two vs. Premier League scrum.
Luton Town, another League Two side, will have to go on the road to Newcastle, and as a result, it will be one of the biggest underdogs in the FA Cup third round.
Though the 44 teams from the Premier League and Championship are entering the competition in the third round, there are at least a few teams from outside of the top two divisions who will surely make the fourth round of play in the FA Cup.
League Two's Yeovil Town has drawn League One's Bradford City at home while a pair of League One teams, Doncaster Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons will face off in Doncaster.
Last season, only two Premier League teams were bounced from the third round of the FA Cup by non-EPL sides. League One's Milwall pulled off the biggest upset of the bunch, a 3-0 win over Bournemouth. Championship side, Wolverhampton was the lone lower division winner on the road against a top-flight team when it dominated Stoke City 2-0.
Keep an eye on Norwich City. The Canaries have a good history in the FA Cup, and they're drawing the defending English champs, Chelsea. Norwich City was taken out of this competition in the third-round last year, but it pushed EPL side, Southampton to a third-round replay before bowing out.
Defending FA Cup champion, Arsenal will kick off play on Sunday against Nottingham Forest at West Bridgford.
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