Arsenal FA Cup title
Arsenal begin their FA Cup title defence with a third round match against SunderlandReuters

After the cannot-take-your-eyes-off-it English Premier league and the don't-really-know-what-to-make-of-it Capital One Cup, it is time for the FA Cup to take centre-stage with third round action rolling in over the weekend.

Arsenal are the holders, having defended their title with a comfortable win against Aston Villa last May, and Arsene Wenger's men will open up this new FA Cup campaign with a clash against fellow Premier League side Sunderland.

Sam Allardyce's team are struggling in the Premier League at the moment, stuck in the relegation zone, but as everyone knows, when it comes to cup games, form goes out of the window.

Arsenal have plenty of injury problems, problems which have prevented Wenger from rotating his squad too much. But the manager insisted he will put out a strong team against Sunderland, ensuring this will be one of the games to watch on the FA Cup weekend.

"The thinking is to give absolutely everything to qualify," Wenger told the club's official website. "We are the holders of the cup and I know as well by experience that it is very important that you get in the competition and that you have a successful third round. It's a tricky one, always, the third round."

Liverpool will certainly be thinking along those "tricky" lines as they open up the FA Cup third round action with a trip to Exeter City on Friday.

Jurgen Klopp has been hit by injuries to several of his key players, and currently has no senior centre-backs available. The German admitted he will put out a young team for this FA Cup tie against the League Two side.

The first match on Saturday has the makings of a cupset, as Wycombe Wanderers host the bottom side in the Premier League – Aston Villa. Remi Garde's men have picked up just eight points in the Premier League all season, while conceding 37 goals in 20 matches. While Wycombe is only a team in League Two, three rungs below the Premier League, they will fancy their chances against Villa, who are seriously bereft of confidence at the moment.

There will be a total of 26 games on Saturday, and the late one is an intriguing match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford. Manchester United have flattered to deceive more often than not, but, on paper, this is a match that Van Gaal's team should stroll through.

However, Sheffield United will know their opponents have their problems, particularly going forward, and if they stay compact and frustrate the Man United attackers, they might just be able to nick a win on the counter.

Guus Hiddink will continue his Chelsea revival – while hoping Oscar and Diego Costa do not lose their rag in the middle of the game – with an FA Cup third round match against Scunthorpe United, while the tie of the round could be Tottenham vs Leicester City at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

FA Cup schedule: Third round (Note, team named first will be the hosts): Friday: Exeter City vs Liverpool (7.55 pm GMT, 2.55 pm ET, 1.25 am IST).

Saturday: Wycombe Wanderers vs Aston Villa (12.45 pm GMT, 7.45 am ET, 6.15 pm IST)

Watford vs Newcastle United (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

West Bromwich Albion vs Bristol City (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

West Ham United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Hartlepool United vs Derby County (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Colchester United vs Charlton Athletic (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Peterborough United vs Preston North End (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Northampton Town vs Milton Keynes Dons (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Arsenal vs Sunderland (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Newport County vs Blackburn Rovers (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Ipswich Town vs Portsmouth (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Birmingham City vs Bournemouth (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Sheffield Wednesday vs Fulham (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Brentford vs Walsall (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Bury vs Bradford City (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Everton vs Dagenham & Redbridge (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Southampton vs Crystal Palace (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Eastleigh vs Bolton Wanderers (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Nottingham Forest vs Queens Park Rangers (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Doncaster Rovers vs Stoke City (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Leeds United vs Rotherham United (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Huddersfield Town vs Reading (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Middlesbrough vs Burnley (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Norwich City vs Manchester City (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Hull City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (3 pm GMT, 10 am ET, 8.30 pm IST)

Manchester United vs Sheffield United (5.30 pm GMT, 12.30 pm ET, 11 pm IST)

Sunday: Oxford United vs Swansea City (12 pm GMT, 7 am ET, 5.30 pm IST)

Carlisle United vs Yeovil Town (2 pm GMT, 9 am ET, 7.30 pm IST)

Chelsea vs Scunthorpe United (2 pm GMT, 9 am ET, 7.30 pm IST)

Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City (4 pm GMT, 11 am ET, 9.30 pm IST)

Cardiff City vs Shrewsbury Town (6 pm GMT, 1 pm ET, 11.30 pm IST)

TV listings: India and the rest of South Asia: Sony Six, Sony Kix and Sony Six HD. UK: BBC and BT Sport. USA: Fox Sports. Canada: Sportsnet. Australia: ESPN. Philippines, Middle East and North Africa: Bein Sports. Singapore: Eleven. Thailand: BBTV. China and Hong Kong: LeTV.

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