FA CUP

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England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512797 Seize the moment Seize+the+moment England

The third round of the FA Cup kicks off this weekend, and there are plenty of matches to keep an eye on. From the big boys like Manchester United, to the smaller minnows like Mansfield Town, there is lots of excitement in store. Not sure what to watch? Read on to find out the best FA Cup ties to check out this weekend.

Adam Holt Livepic - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G9_20130104144800265_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G9_20130104144800265_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512796 West Ham vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, FOX) West+Ham+vs.+Manchester+United+%28Saturday%2C+12+p.m.+ET%2C+FOX%29 England

We’re all curious to find out what kind of priority Sir Alex Ferguson places on the FA Cup, especially considering his team is first in the Premier League, and has a really demanding Champions League schedule ahead of them. Is he thinking treble? If so, he’s not going to mess around, and will roll out a strong lineup – even with Wayne Rooney still out injured. In his absence, Robin van Persie has gone above and beyond picking up the slack. Chicharito has also quietly been going about his business – he’s scoring when asked upon, whether as a starter or off the bench.

Jason Cairnduff - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G8_20130104144727263_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G8_20130104144727263_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512795 West Ham vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, FOX) West+Ham+vs.+Manchester+United+%28Saturday%2C+12+p.m.+ET%2C+FOX%29 England

Despite facing off against a team with a wealth of talent, this hard-nosed West Ham club is up for the challenge. I think that Sam Allardyce is not only one of the most underrated managers, but one of the best all-around people, too. He’s a key component in the Hammers success this season, and could guide them to an FA Cup upset against Premier League leaders United.

Lee Mills - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G7_20130104144704261_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G7_20130104144704261_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512794 Chelsea vs. Southampton (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer) +Chelsea+vs.+Southampton+%28Saturday%2C+9%3A30+a.m.+ET%2C+FOX+Soccer%29 England

We’re just beyond the halfway point in the season, and we’ve already seen two managerial changes, with Chelsea being one of them – and Southampton may not be far behind. If you take Rickie Lambert away from the Saints, this is a team that is without question relegation-bound – he has completely carried them. While that’s not a way to find long-tem success, in competitions like the FA Cup you always have a chance with a player like him on your side. His ability to change a game could give Southampton a shot in this one.

Peter Cziborra Livepic - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G6_20130104144639259_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G6_20130104144639259_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512793 Chelsea vs. Southampton (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer) +Chelsea+vs.+Southampton+%28Saturday%2C+9%3A30+a.m.+ET%2C+FOX+Soccer%29 England

Just when it looked like Rafa Benitez had solved everything at Chelsea, with Fernando Torres and Juan Mata both tearing it up, the Blues lost to Queens Park Rangers at home for the first time in 30 years. Ouch. There are some big questions right now at Stamford Bridge. Benitez had said that he would field a second-tier lineup for this match, but I’d be surprised if that ends up happening. He needs his top players out there from the opening whistle, not as substitutes in the 75th minute like he did against QPR.

Matthew Childs Livepic - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G5_20130104144611257_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G5_20130104144611257_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512792 Manchester City vs. Watford (Saturday, 10:30 a.m. ET) Manchester+City+vs.+Watford+%28Saturday%2C+10%3A30+a.m.+ET%29 England

No offense to Watford, but this one is all about Manchester City and Mario Balotelli. It probably was even before Thursday’s big dust-up between Balotelli and manager Roberto Mancini. It had been weeks since we’d seen Mario on the field. The rumor was that he was out with an illness, or possibly that he wasn’t in form, but there was always the sense that things were simmering below the surface. The images that came out on Thursday certainly added credence to what we thought was going on. You know there are some deep-rooted issues when the camouflage Bentley takes off from the parking lot before training is over. I would be stunned if Balotelli is even available for this match. It will be interesting to see how that confrontation, between player and manager, affects the rest of the team.

Darren Staples - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G4_20130104144547255_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G4_20130104144547255_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512791 Swansea vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 8:25 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer) Swansea+vs.+Arsenal+%28Sunday%2C+8%3A25+a.m.+ET%2C+FOX+Soccer%29 England

Swansea really made their stamp on the Premier League last season with some big home wins, including one against Thierry Henry’s Arsenal side (at the time), and this year Swansea has been in good form mainly because of one man. For me, Michu has been the BPL newcomer of the season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t represent the Swans much longer. A player of his caliber will likely have some bigger clubs come calling soon, if not already. If Swansea wants to make a long FA Cup run, they’ll need Michu to be in top form – and make a return from his ankle injury in time for Sunday.

Rebecca Naden - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G3_20130104144510253_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G3_20130104144510253_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512790 Swansea vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 8:25 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer) Swansea+vs.+Arsenal+%28Sunday%2C+8%3A25+a.m.+ET%2C+FOX+Soccer%29 England

The Gunners enter this one coming off of arguably their worst performance of the season. They left much to be desired in their 1-1 draw at lowly Southampton, which snapped their four-match winning streak. Once again, Arsenal has gone from feeling confident about their ability to win matches, to not knowing exactly where they stand. Not only do the Gunners have enough problems on the field but now their manager even has to deal with losing encounters to his coat's zipper.

Eddie Keogh - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G2_20130104144445251_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G2_20130104144445251_107_80.JPG
England 177 8 FA Cup: Third Round Preview 31512789 Mansfield Town vs. Liverpool (Sunday, 10:30 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer) Mansfield+Town+vs.+Liverpool+%28Sunday%2C+10%3A30+a.m.+ET%2C+FOX+Soccer%29 England

This game is exactly why people do (and should) love the FA Cup. A little team in the fifth division, Mansfield Town, not only get to play, but host a mighty former Champions League winner, Liverpool. Not only do they have a chance of a fairytale story on the pitch, but they are assured of one off the field: Sunday’s game is actually going to be a bit of a honeymoon for their manager, Paul Cox. He married his girlfriend on Friday at the club’s training grounds. That's one way to prep for arguably one of the biggest matches in their clubs history! Even better, if Mansfield wins, sponsor Blue Square Bet has pledged to pay for Cox’s honeymoon! If you want a minnow to root for you’ve got it in Mansfield Town.

Phil Noble - Action Images/Reuters http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G1_20130104144415249_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/01/04/010413-FA-CUP-PREVIEW-DC-G1_20130104144415249_107_80.JPG
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