Weekend Wanderings: FA Cup and WSL return

Alasdair Hooper looks ahead to the weekend’s football action as the FA Cup third round gets under way and the WSL returns.  

After a busy footballing schedule, this weekend sees one of the highlights of the year – the FA Cup third round. 

However, this year the FA Cup comes with an important message. Each game will be kicking off one minute late to encourage fans to ‘Take A Minute’ to think about looking after their mental health, as part of the Heads Up campaign.

Here are the games you can look forward to in this Weekend Wanderings.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United (Saturday, 5.31pm)

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This all-Premier League FA Cup tie is set to be a cracker. In Wolves and Manchester United you just know this looks like it will be a perfect match-up. 

For many pundits and observers alike, Nuno’s side could well be the favourites coming into this game.

What’s more let’s not forget who knocked out Manchester United at the quarter-final stage last year. Of course that would be Wolves. 

With Nuno’s side increasingly earning plaudits, and Manchester United still deviating from sublime to dull, this could well be one of the ties of the weekend.

Liverpool v Everton (Sunday, 4.01pm)

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A Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round? Go on then. 

Thanks to the luck of the draw both Liverpool and Everton were drawn head to head in what should be another exciting game. 

Understandably Liverpool’s formidable form – when they aren’t playing their youth team – means Jurgen Klopp’s side will be firm favourites to forget. 

But the installation of Carlo Ancelotti as Everton boss has revitalised the Toffees to an extent. 

You also get the sense that the Italian would love the opportunity to make a massive statement in his first Merseyside derby.

Gillingham v West Ham United (Sunday, 6.16pm)

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If you’re looking for a cup upset, then Sunday night’s game between Gillingham and West Ham might be the one for you. 

After a tumultuous run David Moyes’ second stint as Hammers manager got off to the perfect start with a 4-0 win against Bournemouth. 

But, as every West Ham fan knows, they can be frighteningly inconsistent and have picked up a recent habit of being dumped out of cup competitions by a team in divisions below them.

Wigan were the team who knocked the Hammers out in 2018 (when Moyes was manager) and last season AFC Wimbledon were the team to knock out the Premier League side. 

Earlier this season Oxford trounced West Ham 4-0 in the Carabao Cup. What are the odds something similar could happen to the East Londoners down in Kent?

Chelsea Women v Reading Women (Sunday, 12.30pm)

The WSL is back and, with it, comes one of football’s most recognisable stars. 

As Chelsea host Reading at Kingsmeadow they will do so boasting a certain Sam Kerr in their ranks.

The striker was voted first in The Guardian and The Offside Rule’s list of the 100 best female footballers in the world in 2019 and her arrival in the WSL represents a huge move. 

While much can be made of wages and whether the financial gap is becoming too big, from a footballing sense it is the Reading defence that could be the first to be tested. 

We wait to see what Emma Hayes has in store for her new marquee forward – but no defender is going to want to come up against this Chelsea attacking unit.

Getafe v Real Madrid (Saturday, 3pm)

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Getafe see in the new year in an incredible position by their standards. Currently they lie sixth in the La Liga table and are just nine points off the top. 

This Saturday they host their near neighbours and Spanish giants Real Madrid, who are on a run of three league draws. 

With just seven points between them, Getafe are the type of side who could cause Real problems in a way so many others have this season.

Captain Sergio Ramos will also be absent from this game through suspension and Eden Hazard and Marcelo are out with injury.

Could it be another tough day at the office that leaves Real behind Barcelona in the title race? 

Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992

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