5 Things We Learned From This Weekend's Fa Cup Third Round

By Footymad
07 January 2018

Holders Arsenal crashed out at the first hurdle, Chelsea must replay against Norwich and although Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City all reached the fourth round, Coventry and Newport provided two classic upsets.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from this season's third-round FA Cup ties.

FA Cup magic in short supply

The FA Cup continues its struggle to recapture the imagination of football fans up and down the country. Third-round day was in years gone by, one of the highlights of the football calendar. But with so many of this weekend's ties played out in front of half-empty stadiums, it is clear the world's oldest knockout competition has lost its allure. Bournemouth, Birmingham, Bolton, Cardiff, Brentford, Ipswich, QPR - the list goes on - attracted pitiful crowds and although the likes of Coventry and Exeter proved the exception, the famous tournament is becoming a shadow of its former self.

Decision to rest players backfires

Most Premier League managers understandably chose to rest their star players at the end of a heavily-congested Christmas schedule, but the plan back-fired for some as Chelsea, Bournemouth, Leicester, Swansea and West Ham all drew to land themselves a replay and an extra fixture. Chelsea and Arsenal made the most changes (nine) - the Gunners spiralling to a shock exit at Nottingham Forest - while Everton (five), Burnley and Stoke (both four) were also knocked out, the latter in humiliating fashion to bottom-tier Coventry, which cost boss Mark Hughes his job.

New cup kings will be crowned in May

A new name will be engraved on the famous old trophy at Wembley in May following Arsenal's shock exit at managerless Nottingham Forest. The Gunners, who lifted the trophy for a record 13th time with victory against Chelsea, were beaten 4-2 at the City Ground, where boss Arsene Wenger lost an FA Cup third-round tie for the first time. The Frenchman watched from the stands as he served the first game of his three-match ban and the influence of the most successful manager in the competition - he has won it seven times - was sorely missed.

Red-hot Lingard shines again

Jesse Lingard, Manchester United's homegrown hero, is on fire. He was the main man again when rescuing Jose Mourinho's side in Friday's third-round tie against Derby, smashing home a rising shot to break the deadlock in the 84th minute. The Warrington-born forward has scored eight goals, some of the highest quality, in his last 10 appearances for United and Gareth Southgate is among those hoping he can maintain his form after emerging as a genuine contender for England at next summer's World Cup finals.

Everyone still loves a giant-killing

Nottingham Forest upset Arsenal, while Sky Bet League Two sides Coventry and Newport did their bit to stoke the dying embers of cup romance with classic giant-killing feats. Coventry, relegated to the bottom tier last season, pulled off the biggest upset of the third round by dumping out Stoke, who reacted to an odds-defying 2-1 defeat at the Ricoh Arena by sacking Mark Hughes. Welsh minnows Newport hit back to knock Leeds out of the competition by the same score at Rodney Parade. For Sky Blues and Exiles fans at least, the FA Cup has retained its magic.

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