Five potential upsets of the FA Cup Third Round

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I did this for the first round of the FA Cup, and it’s back again, with the Premier League and Championship sides getting in on the cup action. There’s a handful of non-league sides playing this weekend, with a few facing top division opposition…

Dover Athletic vs Crystal Palace (Sunday)

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Most of the non-league sides have been lucky enough to get home ties, and Dover will be hoping that this gives them the advantage when Crystal Palace visit the Crabble Athletic Ground. The Whites, who currently sit 12th in the Conference National after being promoted last season, have already beaten League Two sides Morecambe and Cheltenham Town.

Crystal Palace is of course a huge step up from that, but the London side are struggling in the Premier League, and new manager Alan Pardew may look to rest senior players to concentrate on the relegation battle. In his time at Newcastle, Pardew was on the end of a cup upset when the Magpies were beaten 3-1 at then-League Two side Stevenage Borough at this stage four years ago. You can watch the game live on BT Sport 1 tomorrow at 1pm.

Chance of shock: 6/10

Blyth Spartans vs Birmingham City (Today)

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The ultimate team for FA Cup shocks, Blyth Spartans are back in the third round after coming from behind to beat Hartlepool last time out. After getting through, they were probably banking on a money-spinning tie against one of the Premier League elite.

But the Northern League Premier Division side – the lowest ranked team left in the competition – may just fancy their chances at home to Birmingham, who until recently had struggled in the Championship this season. Once again, the non-league outfit have a home tie, giving them confidence. Surely the Green Army can’t continue their heroics?

Chance of shock: 5/10

West Brom vs Gateshead (Today)

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After reaching the Conference Play-Off final last season, Gateshead haven’t quite hit those heights in the league so far in this campaign as they sit 11th, but an FA Cup run has overshadowed that. So far they’ve been given lower league opposition in both the first and second round, so perhaps it was deserved they got an away tie to Premier League West Brom.

They probably don’t mind though, as it’s a chance to create a cup upset against a side, who are struggling in England’s top division, but will have Tony Pulis in charge for the first time. He, like Alan Pardew is likely to rest first team regulars, which could perhaps give Gateshead a chance.

Chance of shock: 3/10

AFC Wimbledon vs Liverpool (Monday)

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A game brimming with history, even if the home side have only been around since 2002. AFC Wimbledon, of course, was founded by Wimbledon FC supporters when their club was moved to Milton Keynes and renamed MK Dons. The old Wimbledon’s finest hour came against Liverpool when the “Crazy Gang” beat a legendary team 1-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley in 1988.

 The new club has had to rise from the Combined Counties League with five promotions and is now 11th in League Two.  They are even bigger underdogs than Vinnie Jones and co were 27 years ago but then again Liverpool are not the club they once were, and are eighth in the Premier League after struggling this season. You can watch how the game unfolds on Monday at 7:55pm on BBC One.
Chance of a shock: 4/10

QPR vs Sheffield United (Sunday)

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Finally a tie, which features no non-league sides, or even a team from League Two, but does include an away side who have had a few superb cup runs in recent seasons. League One side Sheffield United are in this season’s Capital One Cup semi-finals after beating Southampton, and made it to the same stage in this competition in 2013-14, beating two Premier League sides before losing to Hull City at Wembley.

They’ll fancy their chances of another upset this weekend, against QPR, who are currently just two points and two places above the drop zone in the the top division. Like the aforementioned Palace and West Brom, the Hoops could rest star names and give fringe players a chance, which is what Aston Villa did at this stage last season and were beaten 2-1 by the The Blades…

Chance of a shock: 8/10

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