The third round of the FA Cup is upon us this week, bringing us even more of the world’s most beloved domestic cup competition. This is the point in the competition when teams from the Premier League and Championship join the fray, which gives us a real mix of English giants as well as teams from further down the pyramid.

Here are my five best plays for the weekend’s action, including teams who have won the Champions League as well as those who are in the fifth tier of the English game. It really is time to experience all the magic of the Cup!

Stoke City vs. Brighton (Saturday, January 6) 

Stoke City have recently appointed a new manager in Steven Schumacher, and although he’s yet to get Stoke firing in goals his former team, Plymouth Argyle, was free-scoring.

Stoke’s players and fans will be pumped at facing a Premier League team in Brighton and there’s no better chance of seeing both teams to score, with Brighton having BTTS in 18 of their 20 EPL games this season.

Pick: Both Teams to Score – Yes (-149)

Newport Country vs. Eastleigh (Saturday, January 6)

We go from a Premier League team to two in the lower rungs of the professional game. Newport County are 18th in League Two and have conceded 45 goals in 26 games. They come into Saturday’s outing with just one win in their past five league games. Both teams have scored in 11 of Newport’s last 13 League Two games at home.

They face an Eastleigh team who are 11th in the National League, one division below Newport. Eastleigh have won two of their past four matches and have conceded 49 goals while scoring 46 in 26 games. There’s a high chance we see both teams score here. 

Pick: Both Teams to Score – Yes @ (-189)

Watford vs. Chesterfield (Saturday, January 6) 

Watford welcome Chesterfield to Vicarage Road on Saturday. In theory, this is an easy game for the Hornets, who are three divisions higher than Chesterfield. That said, Chesterfield are currently top of the National League, seven points ahead of second place Bromley and have scored 61 goals in 25 games.

Watford will likely rotate their starting lineup here following a draw against Plymouth Argyle on New Year’s Day, and I think they might struggle to keep Chesterfield from scoring. Watford have quality on the bench and a chance to bring on good players, who should secure the home team the win.

Pick: Both Teams to Score – Yes and Watford to win (+175) 

Chelsea vs. Preston (Saturday, January 6)

Ryan Lowe is under pressure at Preston with his team winning just one of their past five Championship games. The issue is that Lowe promised good attacking play at Preston but this season it’s been anything but. They’ve scored just 31 goals in 26 games.

A trip to Stamford Bridge is tough for any team, especially with Chelsea finding their feet in recent weeks and winning three of their past four games. With Preston’s struggles in front of goal and a Chelsea backline who do have considerable talent, we’re likely to see Chelsea win to nil.

Pick: Chelsea win to nil (-111)

Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Sunday, January 6)

Arsenal and Liverpool meet on Sunday, and with both teams competing against each other for the Premier League title we are very likely to see rotation amongst both teams. Mohamed Salah is away at the African Cup of Nations, which is a big loss for Liverpool, but I love the team’s +245 odds.

We will see rotation for both teams, and I believe it’s Liverpool who have a stronger pool of players on their bench. They’ll be able to compete here and will take out Arsenal, who can’t seem to rely on their fringe players when they’re forced to play.

Pick: Liverpool to win (+245)

FA Cup Parlay Odds: +4500