The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in world football and one of its greatest appeals is the possibility of a giant killing. With replays a thing of the past given football’s congested schedule this year, games will be settled with extra time and penalties this season which could see even more drama.
Here I have picked out the games in which the underdogs look like upsetting the odds and writing themselves into FA Cup folklore.
FA Cup Giant Killers Acca
Mansfield v Middlesbrough – 12.30 Saturday
Middlesbrough’s build up to this game has been severely disrupted after a major Covid outbreak at the club meant they had to cancel their fixture with Sheffield United. However with players returning from loan and those who aren’t in isolation they should be able to cobble together a side for this cup tie.
That disrupted preparation is not the ideal circumstance in which to visit one of the form teams in the EFL. Mansfield have won 11 of their last 12 games in all competitions, including victories over Sunderland and Doncaster in the two previous rounds of the cup.
The League Two side could be in the perfect position to take advantage of Boro’s Covid crisis.
Millwall v Crystal Palace – 12.45 Saturday
Crystal Palace have failed to make it past the third round in successive years in the FA Cup and face another tricky tie in this London derby with Millwall.
The Lions have only lost twice in 11 home league games this season and seem to be over the worst of the Covid crisis that they suffered over the Christmas period.
Milwall have a good record at home in the FA Cup, 13 wins, five draws and four losses from their last 22 games, and could secure another win in this south London showpiece.
QPR v Rotherham – 3pm Saturday
QPR hold the ignominious record of being the side who have been eliminated the most at the third round stage in FA Cup history.
Mark Warbuton’s men host Rotherham this year, a side who have won two of their last three against the R’s. The Millers are top of League One and have conceded just 17 goals in 24 league games this season.
Paul Warne’s side suffered defeat to Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day but that was their first since the 9th September and the third tier side look set to pose real problems for the side who have made a habit of exiting at this stage.
Kidderminster Harriers v Reading – 3pm Saturday
The lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, National League North side Kidderminster Harriers, have a real chance of making the fourth round for just the third time in their history. They face a Reading side who have relegation concerns in the Championship and may have bigger fish to fry.
Harriers, who will go top of the sixth tier if they win their games in hand, have not played since the 18th December due to Covid issues at their opponents and so have had a good break to freshen up before this huge tie. Aggborough Stadium is set for a sell out and the home fans may well see their underdogs pull off the big upset.
Birmingham v Plymouth – 5.30 Saturday
The last two months have not been positive for Lee Bowyer’s Birmingham side, losing five of their last eight games including a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Blackburn recently.
The Blues take on Plymouth, who knocked out Championship side Huddersfield last year and got the better of Sheffield Wednesday and Rochdale in the previous rounds of this campaign.
Argyle had a red hot start to this campaign but cooled off in November, losing three in quick succession. Their manager Ryan Lowe also departed to Preston but they have bounced back under new boss Steven Schumacher with back-to-back wins to nil over Charlton and Cheltenham. The Green Army could be in the perfect position to overturn a struggling Birmingham squad.
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