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The best and worst of this weekend’s FA Cup schedule

The third round of the FA Cup kicks off this weekend, and do we ever have a long list of matches for any soccer fan to watch.

Arsenal FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The third round of the FA Cup takes place this weekend, and with nearly 30 matches on the slate between Saturday and Sunday, there’s sure to be something for any level of soccer fan to watch. Despite another lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the FA Cup will press on with one match already being postponed. With so many matches still taking place, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst of the weekend.

Best of FA Cup Third Round

Arsenal v. Newcastle United

Saturday, January 9, 12:30p.m. ET
Watch on ESPN+

This is one of the few matches of the weekend where two EPL teams face off against each other, and the odds are heavily in Arsenal’s favor as they host Newcastle United. The Gunners have won 3-0 in their last three FA Cup home meetings against Newcastle, dating all the way back to 1936. While history is on their side, anything is possible while Arsenal find themselves struggling in the EPL this season, currently trying to climb out of 11th place. They’re doing a decent job as of late, winning their last three league games in a row, including a 3-1 victory over Chelsea. Newcastle have lost 10 of their last 11 FA Cup meetings with other EPL teams, with the one exception coming in the form of a 2-1 win over Blackburn in 2012. The Magpies have been struggling significantly this season in league play, sitting in 15th place and going winless in their last five outings. However, their most recent stretch of games were no easy task, as they had to go up against teams like Man City, Leicester, and Liverpool. This should be a fun one to watch as both teams battle it out to see who moves onto the fourth round.

Worst of FA Cup Third Round

Marine v. Tottenham Hotspur

Sunday, January 10, 12:00p.m. ET
Watch on ESPN+

While this may not qualify as an actual “worst” of the weekend, it could be excruciating to watch as a club from the eighth tier of English football will take on the 4th-place team in the Premier League. Marine, a team made up of NHS workers, teachers, and even a garbage collector, will play host to the prestigious Spurs in their tiny 3000-capacity Marine Travel Arena. This will be their first-ever game against a top flight club. While it will be an exciting affair for the loyal Marine fans, I’m not sure one person anywhere is truly expecting them to hold their own against Tottenham, even if Spurs field a second- or third-choice lineup. It’s quite an accomplishment for Marine to get this far in the FA Cup, but all signs point to their Cinderella run ending this weekend unless they’re able to pull off an absolute miracle. So consider it what you will — a great match to watch in honor of the players who will finally get to experience a game against an EPL club, or an absolute bloodbath in which Spurs will come out on top by double digits. Either way, it will be an interesting result.

FA Cup Third Round Sleeper

Manchester United v. Watford United

Saturday, January 9, 3:00p.m. ET
Watch on ESPN+

On paper, you’d think this one is in the bag for the Red Devils, but that’s not how they’re viewing it in Watford. The Hornets will see this as an opportunity to take down EPL giants early on in the FA Cup and make history. Watford are winless in their last 13 away games against Manchester United with their last win at Old Trafford coming in October of 1978. They’ll hope to make history and come out on top again as they visit the historic grounds. Of their last 35 FA Cup third-round ties, Manchester United have only been knocked out twice — at the hands of Leeds in 2009-10 and Swansea City in 2013-14. It’s a tall order for the Hornets and they’ve got quite a mountain to climb, but this match is one to keep an eye on as a potential upset.

This Weekend’s Full Schedule

All times listed are Eastern. All games will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States.

Saturday, January 9

7:00a.m.: Everton v. Rotherham
7:00a.m.: Boreham Wood v. Millwall
7:00a.m.: Luton Town v. Reading
7:00a.m.: Nottingham Forest v. Cardiff City
7:00a.m.: Norwich City v. Convetry
7:15a.m.: Chorley v. Derby County
10:00a.m.: Blackburn Rovers v. Doncaster Rovers
10:00a.m.: Blackpool v. West Bromwich Albion
10:00a.m.: Wycombe Wanderers v. Preston North End
10:00a.m.: Queens Park Rangers v. Fulham
10:00a.m.: Stevenage v. Swansea City
10:00a.m.: Burnley v. MK Dons
10:00a.m.: Bristol Rovers v. Sheffield United
10:00a.m.: Oldham Athletic v. Bournemouth
10:00a.m.: Stoke City v. Leicester City
10:00a.m.: Exeter City v. Sheffield Wednesday
12:30p.m.: Arsenal v. Newcastle United
1:00p.m.: Brentford v. Middlesbrough
1:00p.m.: Huddersfield Town v. Plymouth Argyle
3:00p.m.: Manchester United v. Watford

Sunday, January 10

8:30a.m.: Crawley Town v. Leeds United
8:30a.m.: Bristol City v. Portsmouth
8:30a.m.: Cheltenham v. Mansfield Town
8:30a.m.: Chelsea v. Morecambe
8:30a.m.: Manchester City v. Birmingham
8:30a.m.: Barnsley v. Tranmere
12:00p.m.: Marine v. Tottenham Hotspur
2:45p.m.: Newport County v. Brighton & Hove Albion

Monday, January 11

3:00p.m.: Stockport v. West Ham