Just a quick look this time round as I’ve had some technical issues as well as a hacking cough for most of the last two weeks.
As I’ve been fond of repeating for the last few seasons, we’re lucky if half of the clubs in the Championship qualify for the fourth round and having not had a second tier winner for almost 40 years, there’s no point expecting one in 2016/17.
Championship v Premier League
Considering that six of the eight ties in this category involve the Championship teams travelling to clubs in the Promised Land, I can’t see much hope for an early upset. Sheffield Wednesday visit Middlesbrough in what could be a very competitive game and the Midlands derby between West Brom and…errr…Derby should be worth keeping an eye on, but does anyone genuinely fancy Burton, Reading or Preston causing upsets?
With only four guaranteed places in the next round, there’s a chance that whoever takes their opportunities now may stand a chance of reaching the last sixteen. For that reason, Birmingham v Newcastle is potentially the tie of the round in this category: on the other hand, neither Wigan nor Nottingham Forest will want to hang around in the FA Cup if they’re serious about avoiding the drop.
Championship v League One
In one of those quirks of fate that happens when the draw is made, all four of the ties in this category have the Championship clubs at home. I can’t see Brighton or Huddersfield having much trouble with MK Dons and Port Vale respectively, but there’s a possibility that Bristol City and Rotherham might find Fleetwood or Oxford too much to handle.
There’s only one game where a Championship club takes on one from League 2: Barnsley travel to Blackpool. On paper, both of the ties between sides from the Championship and non-league teams ought to be straightforward for both Brentford and Ipswich, although neither Eastleigh or Lincoln are mugs.
Televised games: Manchester United v Reading (BT Sport 1, 12:30pm tomorrow), Preston v Arsenal (BT Sport 1, 5:30pm tomorrow) and Spurs v Aston Villa (BBC 1, 4:00pm Sunday). The draw for the fourth round will be on Monday, I’ll probably update as the weekend progresses and I’ll be back next week.