Away from the gruelling, mentally draining Premier League, the English FA Cup gets underway this weekend with its third round. For most managers in the top flight, this is a good distraction.
If the level of competition at this stage is lower, regaining or sustaining confidence for the remainder of the season is particularly imperative.
And for the sides in the lower divisions, this is a chance to play at a different level of intensity and publicity—an opportunity to ruffle the feathers of the big boys.
Liverpool needed penalties to overcome Chelsea in last season’s final after a fascinating goalless draw in normal time. And now, both sides face tricky encounters against teams in the EPL.
Even more, Graham Potter faces Manchester City for the second time in four days. Yet you wonder if this could be the last chance saloon for the manager, who is increasingly losing the confidence of everyone affiliated with the club.
Some outstanding fixtures are lined up this weekend and are guaranteed to deliver drama and excitement.
Preview Of FA Cup Round 3
High-flying Manchester United will back themselves to ease past a struggling Everton team this Friday night.
It is sensible to expect a fair bit of rotation from Antonio Conte as Tottenham host League One team, Portsmouth.
Leicester City travel to face Gillingham as Crystal Palace and Southampton face off in one of the high-profile encounters of this FA Cup round.
Fulham will expect a tough outing against Hull City as Brighton visit Middlesbrough.
Bournemouth take on the Championship leaders, Burnley, in what has the makings of a goal fest. Vincent Kompany might yet have a point to prove against the Premier League team.
A resurgent Nottingham Forest team will be desperate to continue their exciting run with a win against Blackpool.
Brentford and West Ham will crack things up in London. David Moyes will likely put out a very competitive team to bring back confidence.
Newcastle will visit Sheffield Wednesday, as Liverpool hope to get back to winning ways against Wolves.
Leeds United face Cardiff City, while Aston Villa entertain Stevenage.
In the biggest encounter of this round, Manchester City welcome Chelsea to the Etihad. With the stakes high, this fixture should produce goals.
Oxford United will hope for a perfect game against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.
Predictions For FA Cup Round 3
Manchester United vs Everton (1)
Tottenham vs Portsmouth (1)
Gillingham vs Leicester City (over 2.5 goals)
Crystal Palace vs Southampton (over 1.5 goals)
Hull City vs Fulham (2)
Middlesbrough vs Brighton (over 1.5 goals)
Bournemouth vs Burnley (over 2.5 goals)
Blackpool vs Nottingham Forest (under 3.5 goals)
Brentford vs West Ham (over 1.5 goals)
Sheffield Wednesday vs Newcastle (2)
Liverpool vs Wolves (goal/goal)
Cardiff City vs Leeds United (over 1.5 goals)
Aston Villa vs Stevenage (1)
Manchester City vs Chelsea (1)
Oxford United vs Arsenal (2)