Big guns enter the FA Cup's third round

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Record breakers: last season's FA Cup winners Arsenal have won the trophy a record 13 times
Record breakers: last season's FA Cup winners Arsenal have won the trophy a record 13 times

Related tags Bt sport The football league Arsenal f.c. Premier league

Last season’s FA cup finalists Arsenal and Chelsea, winners and runners-up respectively, return to the competition this weekend against lower league opposition.

Fleetwood Town v Leicester City – FA Cup third round – Saturday 6 January – BBC One – Football Focus from 12.15pm, kick-off 12.45pm

The 'Vardy derby'. The Leicester and England striker's former club Fleetwood Town have announced it will raise a toast to their former hitman – who notched 31 goals in 36 Football Conference (now National League) appearances in the 2011-12 promotion campaign before joining Leicester for a £1m fee – with nearby pub the Strawberry Gardens to serve a limited-edition ‘Vardy’s Return’ ale.

Leicester visit Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium off the back of a 3-0 win over Huddersfield on New Year’s Day. After being on the wrong end of an FA Cup upset last season – they were dumped out of the competition in the fifth round by then League One Millwall – the Foxes will be desperate to avoid cup drama against third tier Fleetwood Town.

It took two attempts for Fleetwood to overcome Southern Football League side Hereford in the previous round, and while they’ve never played Leicester’s first team, they did beat the Foxes’ under-23 side 3-0 in the EFL Trophy group stage in August.

Norwich City v Chelsea – FA Cup third round – Saturday 6 January – BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4KUHD (5pm) – Kick-off 5.30pm

Last season’s FA Cup runners-up travel to Carrow Road having gone unbeaten in their previous six Premier League fixtures since a 1-0 reverse against West Ham. They’ve played Norwich three times in the FA Cup, meeting the Canaries for the first time in 2002 when they were taken to a replay after a goalless draw in Norfolk. They won the return leg, and their only other encounter – in 2007 – 4-0 and will go into the weekend’s fixture as heavy favourites.

Norwich approach Saturday’s tie struggling under manager Daniel Farke in the Championship. Having had high hopes at the start of the season, the Canaries find themselves in 13th position and nine points shy of a play-off berth. While they’re unbeaten in their past three, they failed to win in October and November before an upturn in fortunes last month.  

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal – FA Cup third round – Sunday 7 January – BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4KUHD (3.30pm) – Kick-off 4pm

Nottingham Forest go into a cup tie against one of last season’s finalists while occupying a mid-table spot in the Championship – but have no a manager. Forest sacked manager Mark Warburton on New Year’s Eve after the man who took Brentford to the brink of the Premier League, returned Rangers to Scotland’s top flight and inadvertently increased sales of namesake bread Warburtons by 11.7% in Glasgow couldn’t return the two-time European Champions to former glories.

They go into Sunday’s tie under interim boss Gary Brazil, who has won six of the 20 games in which he’s managed Forest on a temporary basis, losing 11.

Things won’t get any easier for him because Arsenal are unbeaten in their past seven Premier League games, including a 2-2 draw with Chelsea midweek.

Chelsea Ladies v Arsenal – Women’s Super League Football – Sunday 7 January – BT Sport 2 – (1.15pm) – Kick-off 1.30pm

After their Premier League male counterparts couldn’t be separated in midweek, in a contest that must go down as a candidate for game of the season, Chelsea and Arsenal’s women’s Super League sides go head to head this weekend.

Five games into the new season, the league’s top scorers and defending champions Chelsea sit two points behind early pace setters Manchester City and are three points clear of their third-placed north London rivals, Arsenal. A win would help them keep pace with City while dropped points could leave them with a real uphill struggle to retain their title.

Australia v England – Ashes Fifth Test – Cricket

Day three – Friday 11pm to Saturday 7.30am on BT Sport 1 – Highlights 12pm to 1.30pm BT Sport 3Day four – Saturday 11.30pm to Saturday 7.30am on BT Sport 1 – Highlights 11.30am to 1pm BT Sport 3Day five – Sunday 11pm to Monday 7.30am on BT Sport 1

While comprehensive wins in the opening three Tests saw Australia regain the Ashes after losing them in England in 2015, a drawn Fourth Test and a first innings' stand of 346 from the tourists in Sydney leave the final Test reasonably well poised as a sporting spectacle even if the final result will has no bearing on the urn's home for the next two years.

Australia captain Steve Smith continued his fine series – passing 6,000 career Test runs in an unbeaten stint of 44 to help his side to 193 for loss of just two wickets at close of play on day two. Smith, the world's top-ranked Test batsman, will resume his knock alongside Usman Khawaja – who hit 91 not out on the second day – when action resumes on day three.   

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