The festive period might be over, but this weekend England’s top sides will enter the 2018/19 FA Cup as the third round begins.
Some interesting match ups have been drawn including all Premier League ties between Wolves and Liverpool and Bournemouth and Brighton.
There are away trips to lower league opposition for Tottenham, who visit League Two Tranmere this evening, and for Arsenal, who will make the trip to League One Blackpool on Saturday afternoon.
Our football expert takes a look at some of the best odds from this weekend’s fixtures.
Friday, 19:45 – Tranmere v Tottenham
Buoyed by a return to winning ways against Cardiff on New Year’s Day, coupled with Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester City yesterday evening, there will be a good mood around the Spurs camp heading into this tie.
The Premier League is not yet out of sight for Pochettino and his men, but the feeling will be that the domestic cup competitions present the north London side’s best opportunity to take home silverware this term.
Spurs will no doubt make some significant changes to their first choice starting eleven, with youngster Oliver Skipp likely to start, as Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela and Jan Vertonghen all return to training this week.
Tranmere have won just two of their last eight League Two fixtures and have flirted with the mid-table spots all season. Nevertheless, this is the biggest game of their season to date and they will be fired up for the challenge this evening, which could make exciting viewing.
You can get Tottenham to win to nil at 4/5 with Grosvenorsport.com.
Saturday, 15:00 – Everton v Lincoln City
An interesting tie from an Everton fan’s point of view – would they prefer to go on a strong cup run this season and finish outside of the top ten, or get knocked out early and qualify for the Europa League?
Of course, there are no guarantees for either of those outcomes, and at this moment, Everton fans are growing restless with Marco Silva’s inconsistent league results. It could be argued that this is a must win game for the Portuguese coach in order to keep the Merseyside fans on side.
Their challengers are Lincoln City, who currently sit top of League Two and have a history in cup upsets. In the 2016/17 edition of the FA Cup, they managed to knockout then Championship outfit Brighton in the fourth round and went on to take out Premier League Burnley in the fifth, all the while still fighting for promotion in the National League.
Could we see some more magic from the Imps this weekend? You can get Lincoln to win or draw at 4/1.
Saturday, 15:00 – Derby v Southampton
If Everton are one of those teams where you’re not really sure which result works best, you can bet that Southampton have a clear picture in their minds – their objective: stay up at all costs.
With this comes caution in cup competitions – the Saints sit in the relegation zone in 18th, two points off 17th placed Cardiff and could do without head scratching rotation conundrums that come with juggling extra fixtures in the schedule.
Frank Lampard’s Derby have impressed in the Championship this season and have managed to climb into a playoff position, sitting four points above seventh placed Nottingham Forest.
The Rams have already shown their mettle against top opposition in the League Cup this season, progressing on penalties against Manchester United and running Chelsea close in the subsequent round, with Harry Wilson proving the club’s standout performer in both fixtures.
Though Lampard may wish to focus on Championship promotion, this tie presents the perfect opportunity to gain momentum and we expect Derby to run out winners at 9/5.
Will there be any FA Cup giantkillings in the third round – here’s our guide to some of the biggers in FA Cup history.
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