FA Cup replays: The major change to this season’s third round FA Cup fixture rules

FA Cup Final – Match In Pictures

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FA Cup action returns this weekend, with 32 fixtures to enjoy over a four-day period. But for the second time in successive seasons, there’s been a monumental shift in FA Cup tradition in a bid to reduce fixture congestion further down the line.

Premier League and Championship teams will be entering into the FA Cup mix this weekend, for the first time this season.

The current holders, Leicester City, will be hosting fellow Premier League side Watford on Saturday afternoon (3pm).

Premier League leaders Manchester City were drawn against League Two promotion hopefuls Swindon Town.

It’ll be the first time the two sides have faced each other in 20 years.

FA Cup replays changes

Following on from last season’s precedent, the FA has confirmed that replays will be removed from the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup this year.

If a tie finishes level after 90 minutes, the match will continue until one team is officially eliminated from the competition.

Extra time and penalties will follow the 90 minutes, if they’re required.

FA Cup replays will be brought back next season, the FA confirmed, in a return to normal tradition.

Last month, an FA statement read: “We can today confirm that replays have been removed in both the third and fourth rounds of the 2021-22 Emirates FA Cup.

“This exceptional decision was approved by the FA Board on Friday 17 December and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion, following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to COVID-19.

“Ties in the third and fourth rounds of this season’s competition will be played to a finish on the day, with extra-time and penalty shootouts if required.

“Replays will return up to and including the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup from the 2022-23 season onwards.”

Last year, seven third-round fixtures went straight to extra time after the 90 minutes.

Most notable, Everton needed an extra half an hour to beat Rotherham 2-1 at Goodison Park.

Just three matches went the distance to penalties, with Brighton and Hove Albion edging out Newport County 4-3 on spot kicks.

There were no ties in the 16 Fourth Round fixtures in 2021.

Meanwhile, this year sees some mouth-watering fixtures in the third round.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard will be taking his Aston Villa team to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.

In-form Arsenal will be travelling to high-flying Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening.

Shrewsbury will also be making a dream trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool this weekend.

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