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FA Cup - Football: All you need to know

It's FA Cup third-round weekend between 7th-10th January, which is traditionally one of the most eagerly-anticipated weekends in the football calendar when the clubs from the top two divisions enter the competition.

The oldest national football cup competition in the world may not be seen to be quite as prestigious as it once was but it still attracts plenty of attention as smaller clubs from lower down the pyramid get the chance at taking on the big boys in the hope of causing a big shock.

History of the FA Cup

The FA Cup was first played during the 1871-72 season and the first winners were Wanderers, a team made up of former public schoolboys based in London, who actually won the competition five times in those very early years.

Between 1872 and 1922, various venues hosted the showpiece game, including Kennington Oval, Crystal Palace, Goodison Park and Old Trafford before the final was first staged at Wembley Stadium in 1923. It stayed there until 2000 before locating to Cardiff for six years while Wembley was being rebuilt, while the 'new' Wembley has hosted the final since 2007.

The first FA Cup trophy was in use until 1895 and was known as the 'little tin idol'. It was stolen from a Birmingham shop in 1895 while in the possession of that year's winners, Aston Villa, and replaced with a replica later that year.

It was then redesigned in 1911 by Bradford jeweller Fattorini in time for that year's Cup final and this is still the familiar design in use today, although that trophy was replaced with an identical version in 1992 and then again in 2014 by the FA.

How is the FA Cup organised?

Any club from the top 10 levels of the English football league system can enter, including 100s of non-league teams. They compete through six qualifying rounds before the tournament reaches the first round proper with the 32 teams that made it that far joining the first of the 48 professional teams from Leagues One and Two. Premier League and Championship clubs then enter at the third round stage.

The teams are whittled down over rounds four and five before the competition reaches the quarter-final and semi-final stage. The semis are played at Wembley Stadium too, before the final takes place, usually in mid-May, with the winners qualifying for the following season's UEFA Europa League.

What are some of the biggest FA Cup third round shocks?

There have been plenty of memorable shocks throughout the FA Cup's storied history and several have taken place in the third round. Arguably the most famous came in 1972 when non-league Hereford United beat top-flight Newcastle 2-1 thanks to Ronnie Radford's much-replayed wonder-strike from outside the area and an extra-time winner from Ricky George.

Coventry City, who had won the Cup two years earlier, were on the receiving end in 1989 when Conference team Sutton United sent them packing. Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlon were the goalscorers in another iconic 2-1 victory for the underdog.

And it was the same scoreline in favour of then-fourth tier Wrexham, who knocked out First Division champions, no less, Arsenal, at the Racecourse Ground in 1992.

Who are the most successful teams in the FA Cup?

Arsenal have won the FA Cup the most, lifting the trophy a record 14 times, the last of which came in 2020. The Gunners have also appeared in the most finals (21). Manchester United are second on the list, winning the Cup 12 times, while Chelsea and Tottenham have been FA Cup winners eight times each.

What FA Cup games are on tv?

This year six third round ties have been selected for live television coverage, starting with League Two Swindon Town's hosting of Premier League champions and six-times winners Manchester City on Friday 7th January at 8pm. You can also catch this game and others over the course of third round weekend on our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Two games are on live on Saturday 8th January - Millwall v Crystal Palace at 12.45pm and Hull City v Everton at 5.30pm, before West Ham United v Leeds United is on at 2.15pm on Sunday 9th January and then later the same day Nottingham Forest entertain Arsenal at 5.15pm.

The all-Premier League clash between Manchester United and Aston Villa takes place live on TV at 7.55pm on Monday 10th January.

Who are the favourites to win the FA Cup this year?

Manchester City are 10/3 favourites to win the Cup for the first time since 2019, Chelsea are 6/1 and Liverpool and Manchester United are both available at 7/1. Arsenal and Tottenham are 12/1 to win the FA Cup in 2022, just ahead of last year's winners, Leicester City, who are 14/1.

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