FA Cup third-round predictions – Lawro v Radio 1 DJ & Leeds fan Danny Howard


There will be no replays in this weekend’s FA Cup third round, but will one-off ties and the Covid-19 cases affecting some clubs mean we see more shocks in the world’s oldest knockout competition?

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson has made predictions for all 32 matches and given his verdict on who will make it into round four.

For selected matches, including two of the BBC’s televised games – Hull City v Everton (17:30 GMT on BBC One on Saturday) and Manchester United v Aston Villa (19:55 on BBC One on Monday) – Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard has made his predictions too.

Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard
Danny’s weekly Dance Party show is part of Radio 1’s legendary Friday night dance line-up – aka the official start to the weekend!

Danny is a Leeds fan, who has seen his side enjoy mixed fortunes in the FA Cup in recent seasons.

Last year, they lost to Crawley Town of League Two in the third round – “I watched it on the BBC and, yes, it was bad!” he says – but the competition has also provided some good times too.

“In 2011, during the days when we were in the darkest depths of League One, we went to Old Trafford in round three and beat Manchester United. What a fantastic day that was.”

It is 50 years since Leeds won the FA Cup, when they beat Arsenal in the final. Can they go all the way this season?

“Well, I don’t think we’ll win it,” Danny added. “But with it being 50 years maybe the magic of the Cup will be on our side a bit this year.

“We will probably need to use some up to get past West Ham on Sunday. If we get past them, we’ve got a good chance of having a decent run.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTIONS

Premier League v non-league

SATURDAY
Chelsea v Chesterfield 91 x-x 3-0 4-1

Gap = how many league positions separate each team

Chesterfield are top of the National League and on the longest unbeaten run in all competitions of any team in England’s top five divisions – 23 games. They have only lost once all season, and that was in September.

The Spireites will take around 6,000 fans to Stamford Bridge and although I don’t think they will upset last season’s beaten finalists, there will be a great atmosphere and the pay-day they get could be a massive boost in helping them get back into the Football League, especially if they can use it to strengthen their squad this month.

Chelsea will win this one though. Their manager Thomas Tuchel has one foot in the Carabao Cup final after Wednesday’s first-leg win over Spurs and although he might rest a few regulars before next week’s return, he will still pick a team that is good enough to get through this tie.

The FA Cup was important for Tuchel when he took charge last January because it allowed him to build some momentum, and I think he will take it seriously this time too.

Danny Howard: I can see Chesterfield getting a goal and having something to celebrate, but there is no chance of an upset here. Chelsea are actually my pick to win the cup this season, because I think Tuchel will have a point to prove after going so close to winning it last year.

Premier League v League Two

FRIDAY
Swindon v Man City 72 x-x 0-3 1-2
SATURDAY
Port Vale v Brentford 62 x-x 1-2

Danny is only making predictions for selected ties

Swindon have had a turbulent time off the pitch of late so it is great for them to have Premier League leaders Manchester City come to town. It will be a fantastic occasion at the County Ground, which is a 15,000 sell-out, but the Robins are much better on the road than they are at home at the moment.

Pep Guardiola’s side survived a scare against another League Two side just down the road in Cheltenham in last year’s fourth round, but I don’t think this tie will be as close.

Swindon’s style is a lot less route-one than Cheltenham’s and I can’t see there being a culture shock for City, who should be fine even without Guardiola present after he tested positive for Covid-19 this week.

Port Vale have not played for almost a month because of Covid outbreaks, but like Swindon they are still at the top end of League Two.

I don’t see an upset here either though. Brentford might rotate their squad but they only came up from the Championship a few months ago and most of their players will be ready for whatever Vale throw at them.

Danny Howard: City will still win, but only by a fine margin. 1-2

Premier League v League One

SATURDAY
Newcastle v Cambridge 41 x-x 2-0 3-0
SUNDAY
Charlton v Norwich 37 x-x 1-1P 0-0P
Liverpool v Shrewsbury 55 x-x 2-0 7-0
Tottenham v Morecambe 57 x-x 3-0 5-0

P = Norwich to win on penalties after extra time

Cambridge were promoted to League One last season but have not really replaced striker Paul Mullin, who sored 34 goals in 50 games in 2020-21 then joined Wrexham in the summer.

The U’s still have former Republic of Ireland midfielder Wes Hoolahan in their squad, who is a player I’ve always admired. He is 39 now but age doesn’t matter if you can pass the ball like he can.

Wes Hoolahan playing for Shelbourne against Deportivo La Coruna in the Champions League in 2004
Hoolahan is pictured here playing for League of Ireland side Shelbourne against Deportivo La Coruna in a Champions League qualifier in 2004. He won 43 caps for the Republic of Ireland between 2008 and 2017

Like Chesterfield, Cambridge will take a load of fans with them to St James’ Park and reap the financial rewards, which are so important to all of these smaller clubs, but it is a big ask for them to get past Newcastle – assuming the Magpies can put out a team after Covid caused their past two league games to be postponed.

Charlton’s tie with Norwich should be a lot closer because the Canaries are on such an awful run and are missing a lot of players, while the Addicks have been playing well under Johnnie Jackson, who won seven of his first 10 games after taking charge, initially as caretaker boss, in October.

Covid is going to cast a shadow over a lot of these games but I think Liverpool will try to get their tie with Shrewsbury played, despite the outbreak that has affected Jurgen Klopp and his squad this week.

If they do play, it will probably be a completely unfamiliar Liverpool team, mostly made up of players from their Under-23s or Under 21s, but it is only two years ago since they fielded their youngest ever side to beat the Shrews in an FA Cup replay at Anfield.

Steve Cotterill’s Shrews will be awkward opponents for any inexperienced team but the Reds should still have enough quality to win this time too, especially at home.

Tottenham will also make changes for their game with Morecambe – who my father and stepfather both played for by the way – but again having home advantage makes things a lot easier.

Danny Howard: Even if Spurs play their second string, they are going to be far too strong. They need to bounce back after losing to Chelsea this week too, so I am going for a convincing one there. 5-0

I know Newcastle are fighting relegation but a decent cup run is long overdue and might build a bit of confidence. Again, they will be too good for Cambridge. 3-0

It’s hard to know what to predict from Liverpool when we don’t know what kind of team Klopp will put out but I just think they will go for it. 7-0

And, having been to The Valley with Leeds a couple of seasons ago, I know it is going to be hard for Norwich against Charlton on Sunday. The Canaries’ morale will be very low but they need to give their fans something to shout about. I can see them sneaking through on penalties.

Premier League v Championship

SATURDAY
Burnley v Huddersfield 8 x-x 1-1P 0-1
Millwall v Crystal Palace 20 x-x 1-2
West Brom v Brighton 15 x-x 0-2
Hull v Everton 24 x-x 0-2 1-3
Swansea v Southampton 23 x-x 0-1
SUNDAY
Wolves v Sheff Utd 25 x-x P1-1
Nott’m Forest v Arsenal 25 x-x 1-2 2-3

P = Huddersfield & Wolves to win on penalties after extra time

Geographically, Burnley and Huddersfield are very close – as are Millwall and Crystal Palace. I have a feeling there will not be much between them on the pitch either.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche will miss his side’s game after testing positive for Covid, and that is another reason I think Huddersfield might cause a shock. There will be plenty of their fans there to see it too.

Millwall will fancy doing the same against Palace, and I’ve been impressed by the team Lions manager Gary Rowett has built with pretty limited resources. I still think Palace will win but, if they rest too many players, they might regret it.

Brighton have a bit of a score to settle with West Brom after having a goal wrongly disallowed in bizarre circumstances when they lost 1-0 to them in the Premier League last year.

The Baggies are unbeaten at home in the Championship this season but they have not been playing well for a few weeks now. The Seagulls are in much better form.

I am not sure what sort of team Everton boss Rafa Benitez will put out at Hull, but it helps him out that the Tigers are struggling too.

It is a similar story with the next tie because Swansea have not looked the same since Steve Cooper left to take over at Nottingham Forest in September. Southampton are inconsistent but last season’s semi-finalists should make it through to round four.

Sheffield United made a good decision to appoint Paul Heckingbottom as manager at the end of November and, although Wolves should end his unbeaten start, it is going to be a close one.

The same thinking applies with Forest because Cooper has lifted the whole club. This will be a test for Arsenal but I’d like to think the Gunners will pick a strong team after having their Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool postponed, and there is a good vibe about them at the moment.

Snapshot of the bottom of the Premier League: 15th Everton, 16th Leeds, 17th Watford, 18th Burnley, 19th Newcastle & 20th Norwich

Danny Howard: I thought Hull could be a potential banana skin but Everton’s new signings will give them a boost, so I am going to go with them to win 3-1.

Forest versus Arsenal is a pretty tasty tie, and it is has got a kind of old-school feel about it. It would be in Forest’s DNA for them to turn it on, but Arsenal are probably going to be too strong – just – so I am going to go with them to win 3-2.

I can see Huddersfield upsetting Burnley though. I watched Leeds beat Burnley last weekend and despite having a strong defence, they looked a bit toothless going forward.

Premier League v Premier League

SATURDAY
Leicester v Watford 7 x-x 2-0 2-0
SUNDAY
West Ham v Leeds 11 x-x 2-0 1-1P
MONDAY
Man Utd v Aston Villa 6 x-x 1-0 2-2P

P = Leeds & Villa to win on penalties after extra time

Leicester have not kicked on in the way most people expected them to since winning last season’s FA Cup but they will still see off Watford, who are in a mess. I don’t think Hornets boss Claudio Ranieri will have much to smile about on his latest return to King Power Stadium.

West Ham and Leeds meet again in the Premier League next week. I am guessing they will both make changes for this one and, although the Hammers need to add to their squad this month, I would still say they have more depth than Leeds right now.

And I am going with Manchester United to edge out Aston Villa on Monday, although it is obvious from the stories coming out of Old Trafford that all is not right within the United dressing room. I hate seeing those sort of leaks because, although it could just be one unhappy player behind them, it can easily become an issue that undermines the whole club.

Danny Howard: I can’t see any surprises happening with Leicester and Watford but United versus Villa is an interesting one because the body language of the United players is telling me that they are not going to be up for it.

Villa, under Steven Gerrard, are definitely going to be motivated so, taking into account it is at Old Trafford, I am going for a 2-2 draw, with Villa to win on penalties. I will be very happy if that does happen.

With Leeds at West Ham, my head is telling me it is not looking good for us but my heart is telling me we are going to win, so I am going for a 1-1 draw and Leeds to win on penalties because we are good at pens – or at least we won a shootout against Fulham in the Carabao Cup earlier this season anyway.

Championship v non-league

SATURDAY
Kidderminster v Reading 79 x-x 0-2
Yeovil v Bournemouth 82 x-x 0-2

Reading are struggling in the Championship but they have the chance to build some confidence against National League North side Kidderminster, who are the lowest-ranked side left in the FA Cup.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, are on course for an instant return to the Premier League. I am not sure they are too bothered about the FA Cup this season, but I don’t see Yeovil beating them.

Snapshot of the top of the Championship table: 1st Bournemouth, 2nd Blackburn, 3rd Fulham, 4th West Brom, 5th QPR & 6th Huddersfield

Championship v League Two

SATURDAY
Mansfield v Middlesbrough 50 x-x 1-1P
Hartlepool v Blackpool 51 x-x 1-2 3-4
Barnsley v Barrow 44 x-x 2-0
Peterborough v Bristol Rovers 44 x-x 2-0
SUNDAY
Luton v Harrogate 43 x-x 2-1
Stoke v Leyton Orient 50 x-x 1-0

P = Middlesbrough to win on penalties after extra time

Mansfield have won seven of their past eight games in League Two and they should give in-form Middlesbrough a good game.

The same goes for Hartlepool against a Blackpool side who knocked out Premier League West Brom as a League One club last season, but are trying to avoid being on the wrong end of a shock this time.

Barnsley are having an awful season but should get a rare win at home to Barrow, who are fighting to stay in the Football League. Likewise Peterborough, who are also in the Championship relegation zone, have got enough firepower to see off Bristol Rovers.

It is brilliant to see Harrogate in the third round for the first time and they have already caused a shock to get here by beating Portsmouth, but I can’t see them getting past Luton.

There is a big gulf in class between the two divisions and the Hatters have got home advantage on top of that. Stoke should beat Leyton Orient for the same reasons.

Danny Howard: Blackpool are my hometown team and I’d love to see them go on a proper cup run. Hartlepool are up and down form-wise but Blackpool are patchy too. Of course I’m going with the Seasiders, but I think we will make life difficult for ourselves, and win 4-3.

Championship v League One

SATURDAY
QPR v Rotherham 20 x-x 1-1P
Wigan v Blackburn 25 x-x 0-2 2-1
Birmingham v Plymouth 12 x-x P1-1

P = Rotherham & Birmingham to win on penalties after extra time

Snapshot of the top of League One: 1st Rotherham, 2nd Sunderland, 3rd Wigan, 4th Wycombe, 5th Oxford & 6th Plymouth
Rotherham, Wigan and Plymouth are all chasing promotion to the Championship

Rotherham have only lost one of their last 18 games in League One and are top of the table. They play a QPR side who are also going very well and are near the top of the Championship. It’s hard to call but I always think having a sniff of the Premier League gives clubs more of a reason to want to avoid the distraction of a FA Cup run.

The same applies to Blackburn who face Wigan, another in-form side from the division below. I’m going with Rovers here, though, because Ben Brereton Diaz is scoring for fun, and they will have a lot of fans at DW Stadium – but it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see the Latics to win it.

Going by recent form, Plymouth might fancy their chances at Birmingham and I can see that one going to penalties.

Danny Howard: Blackburn are absolutely flying at the moment but they will have one eye on promotion and they could rest a few. I’m going with Wigan to take it 2-1.

Championship v Championship

SATURDAY
Bristol City v Fulham 12 x-x 1-0
Coventry v Derby 14 x-x 0-2
SUNDAY
Cardiff v Preston 6 x-x 0-1

Fulham will definitely want to focus on their promotion bid and they will rotate their squad so I can see Bristol City sneaking this one.

Derby boss Wayne Rooney has been getting some really good results when you consider what is going on at the club and maybe some FA Cup magic can help them get past Coventry and go on a bit of a run. Stranger things have happened.

Then it is the big one – my old club Preston, against Cardiff. Our manager Ryan Lowe has been in charge for a month but we have only played two games. He has won them both though, and I’ve got to go with North End here.

League One v non-league

SATURDAY
Boreham Wood v AFC Wimbledon 34 x-x 1-0

I’m going to finish off by predicting an upset. Boreham Wood are 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and fourth in the National League.

Their manager, Luke Garrard, was a fans’ favourite when he played for AFC Wimbledon as they rose up through non-league so this was a great draw for him. Whoever gets through will be hoping for one of the big boys next.

Lawro and Danny were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.



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