The third round of the FA Cup is one of the biggest weekends in the British football calendar – and it’s not hard to see why.
Every year, all the biggest teams join the competition at this stage, meaning that one of the most famous, most decorated clubs in the country often have to test themselves in much more humble surroundings.
As always, there was drama and shocks over the weekend, as well as some truly memorable moments. So here are our top three;
3. VIRGIL’S DREAM DEBUT
75 million pounds Liverpool paid for their new defender. There were some worries about the price tag but, it’s funny how one moment can ease so much doubt.
The Merseyside Derby over the weekend was a dream tie for many, as one of the biggest rivalries in football was conjured up so early in the FA Cup. It was a tight game and often a feisty one, but one that looked like it was heading to a replay. That was until Virgil van Dijk popped up, on his debut, to nod in a header with little over five minutes remaining and won the game for his new side. Magic.
2. WELSHMAN TAKE DOWN ENGLISH GIANTS
Newport County, one of the very few clubs from Wales who play their football in English competitions, are also one of the very few League 2 clubs in the FA Cup still. When they were pitted against Championship opposition, staying in the cup became harder.
Leeds United may not be the side they once were, currently still playing in England’s second tier, but with FA Cup wins and league titles to their name, they are comparable giants to Newport. But, in the cup, that all goes out the window.
An early goal from the visitors wasn’t enough to quell the Welshmen, as a 76th-minute own goal allowed them to come back into the game before they rode the momentum and atmosphere from a humble home crowd to score once more in the 89th minute. Scenes of pure jubilation followed as the tiny Welsh team moved into the next round.
1. FOREST GUN DOWN ARSENAL
Like Leeds, Nottingham Forest were once one of the big boys in England. European Cup wins, league wins, FA Cups – they were the norm.
But it’s been two decades since Forest were in the top flight now, so when the cup draws you a home tie against Arsenal, you cherish it. It was just like the old days at the City Ground. An early lead was cancelled out by Per Mertesacker, but Eric Lichaj, the man who opened the scoring, reinstated that lead with one of the goals of the weekend.
Chesting down and volleying the ball from just outside the box, his screamer set the tone for an eventual 4-2 win for Nottingham Forest for whom, it was a blast of beautiful nostalgia. How far will they go in the cup this year? We’ll have to see what happens in the 4th round, but they provided the best moment of the 3rd…