FA Cup preview N-W

Image: Steve Kean: Blackburn will put their Premier League worries to one side on third round day

FA Cup third round day remains an important fixture on the football calendar, with this weekend seeing the big boys join the road to Wembley.

Magpies face Rovers; Spurs host Robins; Forest tackle Foxes

FA Cup third round day remains an important fixture on the football calendar, with this weekend seeing the big boys join the road to Wembley. With only two all-Premier League ties pulled out of the hat, Football League and non-league hopefuls will get plenty of giant-killing opportunities. All of those involved will get the chance to put league concerns to one side, with the latest round of action all about knockout competition and the pursuit of silverware. Newcastle and Blackburn have experienced contrasting fortunes in the Premier League this season, but will be aware that form often goes out of the window in all-or-nothing encounters of this sort. Norwich are enjoying life in the top flight, while Burnley want to return to the Promised Land, and they will go head-to-head at Carrow Road in a game which will see two highly-rated young managers in the form of Paul Lambert and Eddie Howe pitched into direct competition. Tottenham have nothing to gain and everything to lose in their home date with Cheltenham, with the high-flying League Two outfit set to arrive at White Hart Lane free of expectation and looking to enjoy themselves. West Brom face a tough test against Cardiff, with the Bluebirds having already showcased their cup pedigree this season by making it through to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

Distraction

Wigan have endured a tough time in the Premier League of late and will be hoping that a trip to Paolo Di Canio's Swindon proves to be a welcome distraction. Nottingham Forest and Leicester will lock horns at the City Ground in a game that sees local bragging rights and a place in round four put on the line. Reading and Stevenage occupy top-six standings in their respective divisions, but something will have to give when Championship frontrunners meet League One high fliers. Watford suffered a rare defeat last time out and will want to get back on track when they welcome fourth tier outfit Bradford to Vicarage Road. Sheffield United will be expected to see off non-league Salisbury, but the Conference South side will have their sights set on claiming a notable Football League scalp. On Sunday, Martin O'Neill will take his rejuvenated Sunderland side to London Road to take on Peterborough. At Hillsborough, League One promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday will take on Championship elect West Ham, with both sides hoping this will be the season in which they shake off their shackles and start heading in the right direction again.

Around Sky