The magic of the FA Cup will be alive and kicking this weekend, with the big guns entering the competition in the third round.

There are both all-Premier League clashes and classic David and Goliath showdowns among a fixture list which has thrown up a series of talking points.

From Jose Mourinho travelling to Marine to Sheffield United looking for their first win since September, there is certainly sure to be a number of story lines emerging as the weekend progresses.

Here are five things to watch out for in what should be an intriguing few days of FA Cup action…

Fairly cross on the Mersey



Liverpool will be looking to get revenge for their humiliating 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa earlier in the season

Premier League champions Liverpool have become accustomed to sweeping almost all before them in recent seasons, but will head for Aston Villa on Friday evening smarting.

The Reds have not won in three games after failing to beat both West Brom and Newcastle before losing to Southampton.

They have not gone four matches without a victory since September-October 2018, when they were defeated in League Cup and Champions League ties by Chelsea and Napoli respectively and drew with the Blues and Manchester City in the league.

They have been to Villa Park already this season – and lost 7-2.

Mourinho heads for tier eight



Jose Mourinho and his side will travel to eighth-tier side Marine

If ever a tie summed up the FA Cup, is is the one that will send Premier League giants Tottenham and their charismatic manager Jose Mourinho to Marine on Sunday.

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The Merseyside club play in the Northern Premier League North West Division, four rungs below the Football League, and a team which includes a binman, teachers and supermarket workers has already worked its way past Barnoldswick Town, Frickley Athletic, Runcorn Linnets, Nantwich Town, Chester, Colchester and Havant and Waterlooville.

Coronavirus restrictions which mean the game will take place behind closed doors have cost Marine around £100,000 in lost revenue, prompting them to stage a virtual raffle in which first prize is the opportunity to take over as manager for a pre-season friendly.

Imagine if Mourinho won it.

Chorley not?



Chorley FC players celebrate in the FA Cup
Chorley will also be looking to cause a massive upset against Derby

Marine’s hopes of causing an upset may be remote, but National League North Chorley may feel they will never have a better chance of claiming a Sky Bet Championship scalp and a place in the fourth round.

Derby County will send a team of Under-23 and Under-18 players to Victory Park on Saturday with manager Wayne Rooney, his staff and their entire first-time squad bubble self-isolating after nine positive Covid-19 tests.

The Magpies have already put League One duo Wigan and Peterborough out of this season’s FA Cup.

Sharpening the Blades?



Sheffield United are in desperate need of a win from somewhere

If any team needs a win this weekend, it is Sheffield United.

The Blades sit at the foot of the Premier League having collected only two points from their first 17 games and have lost 16 of the 18 they have played in all competitions so far this season.

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Indeed, they last tasted victory in a 3-0 league win over Chelsea on July 11, some 22 fixtures ago, and they will hope a trip to League One Bristol Rovers represents a chance to launch a fightback.

Goals, goals, goals



There should be goals between Crawley and Leeds

Punters looking for a safe bet on Sunday should perhaps avoid backing a 0-0 draw at Crawley.

The League Two side entertain Leeds at the People’s Pension Stadium, with the top-flight side’s last seven games having yielded 31 goals, 15 of them from Marcelo Bielsa’s men.

Crawley, who have managed just a single clean sheet in their last 12 outings, also have form.

Their first round trip to Torquay ended 6-5 after extra time.





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