We haven’t had a lot of magic in the FA Cup over the last decade. Yes, there have been upsets and stunning results, but it’s been 10 years since we last saw a non-Premier League club make it to the finals of the competition, and it’s been almost 40 years since a non-first tier club won it. We’re familiar with the
tales of the Cinderella runs of Milwall and Queens Park Rangers, but those have started to fade with each passing year. This weekend will see the third round of the FA Cup take place. This is when teams from the Premier League and Championship first enter the competition, and 44 of the 64 teams squaring off this week are in one of those two tiers. They are heavy favorites against the third-tier teams and below that have made it this far, but clubs like sixth-tier Woking and fifth-tier Barnet are looking to earn their place in FA Cup lore with upset victories here.
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AFC Bournemouth vs Brighton & Hove Albion
- Date and Time: January 5, 2019, 7:30 a.m. ET
- Location: Dean Court, Bournemouth, England
- Betting Line: AFC Bournemouth -0.5, O/U 2 and 2.5
This is one of two games between Premier League sides, and both Bournemouth and Brighton are sure to feel hard done by the draw. One of these two teams will enter and exit the FA Cup on the same day, and it’s likely to be Brighton. Bournemouth were able to defeat Brighton at Dean Court 2-0 just two weeks ago in Premier League action, and the Cherries will look to emulate that success. However, they have lost nine of their last 11 matches in all competitions, and key players like Adam Smith, Simon Francis, and Lewis Cook are all gone for the year.
Woking vs. Watford
- Date and Time: January 6, 2019, 9 a.m. ET
- Location: Kingfield Stadium, Woking, England
- Betting Line: Watford -2, O/U 3 and 3.5
Everyone aside from Watford fans will be cheering for Woking in this Davis vs. Goliath match. Woking were relegated from the National League at the end of last year, and they are no longer a fully professional football club. They are a semi-pro team with players having side jobs, yet they have won hard-fought road victories over Torquay United and Swindon Town to make it here. Woking know it would take a Herculean effort to beat Watford, and any sort of result would be a big victory. The Hornets are likely to rest some of their starters, but they are still an EPL club with far more resources than their opponents.
Wolverhampton vs. Liverpool
- Date and Time: January 7, 2019, 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England
- Betting Line: Liverpool -0.5, O/U 2.5 and 3
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Wolves have made a habit of playing up to the level of their opponents. The Wanderers picked up draws against Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United, toppled Chelsea, and nearly roared back to beat Tottenham in league play. The one club they couldn’t hold a candle to was Liverpool. The Reds beat Wolves 2-0 in the Molineux just two weeks ago, and now they are set to face off again. There is some solace for Wolves this time around though. Liverpool face Manchester City on Thursday, and they are likely to rest some of their key players following that tilt.
FA Cup Third Round Free Picks
Bournemouth’s injury woes will give Brighton a boost, and I see the Seagulls getting a result on the road. I think Wolves will grab at least a draw against Liverpool too given the circumstances, but this will sadly be the end of Woking. It’s just too tall of a task for a semi-pro club to keep it close against a sound EPL side like Watford.
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