By PAUL MUCHESI
MAN UNITED VS READING (SATURDAY 3:30PM)
Defending champions Manchester United will take on Reading in round three of the FA Cup clash and manager Jose Mourinho is expected to make a few changes to the team that started against West Ham United last time out.
Despite Mourinho making five changes to his starting 11 at West Ham on Monday, United still won 2-0 and with an EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Hull City to come on Tuesday, followed by a Premier League meeting with Liverpool, this could be a chance to rest players. Prediction: Home win
PRESTON VS ARSENAL (SATURDAY 8:30PM)
Arsenal became the most successful side in the history of the FA Cup with their back-to-back successes in 2014 and 2015, but a shock defeat at home to Watford last season ended their quest for a third straight title, allowing Manchester United to equal the record of 12 by coming from behind to beat Crystal Palace.
The Gunners will be eager to take sole possession of the record once again this season, but can they? First up for Arsene Wenger’s men is a game against Championship strugglers Preston North End, who have already upset one top-flight side in cup competition this season. But the stakes are against the hosts as they have won only once in their last five matches, drawing thrice, playing at home. Prediction: Away win
LIVERPOOL VS PLYMOUTH (SUNDAY 4:30PM)
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is ruled out as Plymouth visit Anfield on Sunday in the FA Cup third round. That notwithstanding, I expect Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to rest a few stars in this encounter and despite dropping two points last time out against Sunderland, a comfortable Reds win is what I expect. They have a very good home record, winning four times in their last five and Plymouth won’t have much to offer. Prediction : Home win
CHELSEA VS PETERBOROUGH (SUNDAY 6PM)
Premier League leaders Chelsea missed the chance to beat Arsenal’s long-standing record of 13 wins in a row when they lost to Tottenham on Wednesday. The Blues were out played, out fought and out maneuvered by a very industrious Spurs side inspired by Kenyan captain Victor Wanyama.
Antonio Conte’s side has a chance to return to winning ways this Sunday when they welcome League One side Peterborough FC, who have equally a good record as they haven’t lost an away match since last August, winning three in that period. However, I expect a response from Chelsea. Prediction: Home win
TOTTENHAM VS ASTON VILLA (SUNDAY 7PM)
Since losing by a lone goal to Manchester United early December, Tottenham have won five on the bounce including beating league leaders Chelsea 2-0 on Wednesday. Spurs are a team on the rise, and I fear for championship side Aston Villa, who have won only once away from home, while losing thrice.
The last five matches between the sides have seen Spurs win four and lose once and I expect that excellent record to continue this weekend. Prediction: Home win