For soccer followers, the primary full weekend of January can solely imply one factor; the Emirates FA Cup third spherical.
As 64 groups throughout the EFL – and additional afield – conflict, one of many traditional weekends of the season is poised to ship extra cup upsets and giant-killings.
However the place may these come?
Right here, we put three video games beneath the microscope.
Maidstone United v Stevenage (Saturday, 12:30 GMT)
May Nationwide League South aspect Maidstone United pull off the large shock of the weekend?
Because the Kent aspect play their very first third spherical tie, three tiers of English soccer separate themselves and Saturday’s opponents, Stevenage.
Reserving their spot within the final 64 after knocking out League Two aspect Barrow final month, the Stones now eye a much bigger EFL scalp.
Sitting fourth within the standings, The Gallagher Stadium isn’t any fortress however historical past could possibly be on the aspect of George Elokobi’s males.
A former FA Cup veteran with Wolves himself, Maidstone’s solely different FA Cup assembly with Stevenage led to first spherical replay victory, again in 2014.
Stevenage may additionally have their focus elsewhere with the League One playoffs very a lot a gap this time period.
A 5/1 punt with BoyleSport is to contemplate, as is the ten/3 shot with QuinnBet for Maidstone to drive a replay.
AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich City (Saturday, 12:30 GMT)
Sticking with the early Saturday window, Championship high-flyers Ipswich meet AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane.
This sport may not instantly be filed within the draw ‘cup upsets’, however the Dons might spring a shock.
With a full 53 locations between the duo, Ipswich are knocking on the Premier League door come Could, so, will their priorities lie elsewhere?
🏆 @EmiratesFACup third spherical prep.
📸 @Rocket1job #AFCW 🟡🔵 pic.twitter.com/zdBamrrZkL
— AFC Wimbledon (@AFCWimbledon) January 5, 2024
The Tractor Boys are win-less in 4 video games, with their report on this competitors nothing in need of horrific.
Certainly, solely as soon as within the final 13 years have Ipswich made it previous this stage.
A visit to south London is not going to be relished by boss Kieran McKenna.
The hosts netted 5 in each earlier rounds and on a tough pitch, Johnnie Jackson can rekindle reminiscences of the Loopy Gang from 1988.
Wimbledon are 17/4 with 10Bet to sending Ipswich packing.
Wigan v Manchester United (Monday, 20:15 GMT)
For the third of our trio of potential cup upsets, we flip to the ultimate sport of the spherical and two former winners of the FA Cup, Wigan and Manchester United.
And the Latics might heap the stress on United boss Erik ten Hag.
Entertaining the Crimson Devils, it was Wigan who famously shocked Manchester Metropolis at Wembley within the 2013 remaining.
Right here, in a Larger Manchester derby, Wigan once more search to topple one of many metropolis’s large boys.
Underneath the steering of Shaun Maloney – a part of the identical Wigan aspect from 11 years in the past beneath Roberto Martinez – narratives are there to be grabbed at.
Statistically, all the pieces factors to a cushty outing for guests.
United have gained 18 of the final 19 conferences towards Wigan and their solely loss was again in 2012.
It’s value noting, nevertheless, that loss got here on the DW Stadium, throughout a time when United had been far stronger.
Domestically, Wigan are battling to remain afloat in League One, while United present indicators of life, albeit in sporadic suits.
By identify alone, it must be a no-contest, however Wigan are able to drop the banana pores and skin as soon as extra.
On the lookout for an omen? Wigan have gained their final FIVE FA Cup ties performed on a Monday. The newest one? A 1-0 win over Man Metropolis.
The bookies are shopping for no romance right here, however Wigan are a staggering 14/1 to tug off one of many large cup upsets in current reminiscence.
A extra cautious method, Wigan are a good 21/4 with BetUK for a money-spinning return at Previous Trafford.