FA Cup: Five giants looking to avoid a shock exit

By Ian WoodcockBBC Sport
Chelsea players during last season's 4-2 FA Cup defeat by League One Bradford

For many it's the most exciting day of the footballing calendar, for others it's an occasion that fills them with dread.

FA Cup third-round weekend is upon us and some of the top teams in the country will be hoping to avoid being this year's big story.

BBC Sport looks at five ties that will see Premier League sides face League One or League Two opposition.

Will Wycombe add to Villa woes?

Wycombe Wanderers v Aston Villa (Saturday, 12:45 GMT)

Tommy Mooney
Tommy Mooney helped give Wycombe a 3-1 half-time lead against Aston Villa in the League Cup in 2005, but the Premier League side fought back to win 8-3

You haven't won a league game since the opening day of the season, you're 11 points adrift of safety and relegation at this stage looks more likely to happen than not.

It's fair to say that Remi Garde, winless after nine matches as Villains boss, would probably not have picked an away date at League Two Wycombe for his first managerial taste of the FA Cup.

To make matters worse and heap an extra serving of pressure on his beleaguered players, the tie has been chosen for broadcast on television. A sure sign that a shock could be in the offing.

Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth told BBC Three Counties Radio: "They are fragile in the Premier League, without a shadow of a doubt. It's going to be very possession-based from Aston Villa as they've got some good players who can handle the ball well.

"But they have been shy of wins. There's not going to be any sit back and work this game out, we're going to go for it as Wycombe Wanderers do. There will be respect shown, of course there will, because they're at the top of their game.

"But I'm hoping we get a little respect as well for getting this far and for a small club to be batting well above it's average every week."

Still's Daggers to give Everton the Blues?

Everton v Dagenham & Redbridge (Saturday, 15:00 GMT)

Jamie Cureton
Dagenham striker Jamie Cureton, 40, made his professional debut against Everton in 1994

It's been all change at Dagenham since they confirmed their place in the FA Cup third round.

Wayne Burnett, who saw his side concede last-minute equalisers in both their games against National League South side Whitehawk before eventually prevailing after extra-time, has been sacked and replaced by the man he himself had taken over from.

John Still has returned to the Daggers for a third spell and his first game in charge on Saturday saw the side record a win at Exeter City that moved them out of the League Two relegation zone.

Veteran Still says the trip to Goodison Park is "a double-edged sword" for his new charges.

"It has been funny coming in with a big Cup game because I wasn't part of that run," the 65-year-old told BBC Radio London.

"We want to put on a good performance but the big picture is to make sure we stay in the Football League.

"Everton are a great side with a great philosophy of how they want to play.

"We need to keep ourselves in the game for as long as possible and then hope the good fortune of FA Cup shocks shines upon us."

Can Blades leave United red faced?

Manchester United v Sheffield United (Saturday, 17:30 GMT)

You only need to go back two years to the last time a League One side reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

Jose Baxter
Sheffield United forward Jose Baxter gave the Blades the lead in their FA Cup semi-final against Hull

Sheffield United saw off Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham, as well as Championship outfits Nottingham Forest and Charlton, before succumbing to a 5-3 defeat by Hull City at Wembley.

The Blades travel to Old Trafford on Saturday looking to be the first League One team to knock the Red Devils out of the Cup since Yorkshire rivals Leeds achieved that feat in 2010.

Boss Nigel Adkins has seen his side win three of their last four games and believes they could provide the shock of the round.

"There are three results on offer and we will be more than delighted with two of them," he told BBC Radio Sheffield.

"In reality, on paper, Manchester United, who are riding high in the Premier League, should beat League One Sheffield United - but as everyone knows we don't play on paper.

"The beauty of the FA Cup and the third round is there is always upsets and surprises, so why can't it be us? It's the Theatre of Dreams so why can't we dream? We have to believe that we can go and do something."

In-form Yellows to leave Swans at sea?

Oxford United v Swansea City (Sunday, 12:00 GMT)

Oxford United celebrate victory at Notts County
Oxford United will look to replicate their League Two form against Premier League Swansea

League Two promotion-chasers Oxford United are guaranteed a sell-out crowd for the visit of Premier League Swansea City to the Kassam Stadium.

Michael Appleton's side, who overcame National League clubs Braintree and Forest Green to reach this stage, are relaxed ahead of the tie.

"It's great to be able to test yourself against Premier League players," captain Jake Wright told BBC South Today. "Whichever team they pick, it's going to be one of a good pedigree."

Oxford, currently third in their division, will look to midfielder Kemar Roofe as a goalscoring threat.

The former West Brom trainee has found the net 13 times this season, including the second-round winner against Forest Green.

"Everyone in the squad was hoping for a Premier League team before the draw. In my eyes, it's the perfect draw for us," said the 22-year-old.

"To play a good footballing team at our place is great. We're confident we can beat anyone when we go into games at the moment and this is no different."

Will Iron hand out a Hiddink hiding?

Chelsea v Scunthorpe United (Sunday, 14:00 GMT)

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes celebrates giving Scunthorpe the lead against Chelsea in the FA Cup third round in 2005. The Blues came back to win the tie 3-1

Rewind just shy of 12 months and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is telling the assembled press that it would be "a disgrace" if his champions-elect lost to League One Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round.

The rest, as they say, is history after the League One Bantams pulled off one of the great FA Cup shocks of all time after coming back from 2-0 down to beat the Blues 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.

A disastrous start to the season saw Mourinho lose his job last month and interim boss Guus Hiddink is unbeaten in his three games in charge.

Iron boss Mark Robins, who watched on from the stands as the Blues hammered Crystal Palace 3-0 on Sunday, knows his team face a team returning to form.

"We've got absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain and I want us to go there and put on a really good show for our supporters and one another," he told BBC Radio Humberside.

"They've had their ups and downs this season but what I saw on Sunday was them turning the corner, unfortunately!

"From my point of view it is difficult to know 100% what they will do and they could make some changes, but whoever they bring in will be world class."

Additional reporting by Adam Williams, Brent Pilnick, Phil Shepka and Rob Stevens.

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