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FA Cup preview: Premier League clubs clash in third round

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Are you ready for the madness of the FA Cup third round?

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup third round ]

There are four all-Premier League ties as the historic competition welcomes clubs from England’s top two tiers for the third round, with the action kicking off on Friday and continuing across the weekend.

West Ham United host Man City on Friday, while Hull City host Swansea City, Sunderland welcome Burnley and Everton entertain Leicester City on Saturday in the three other all-PL matches.

Liverpool and Manchester United both host lower-league opponents with Jurgen Klopp‘s men welcoming League Two Plymouth to Anfield and United hosting second-tier Reading who are managed by former Red Devils center back Jaap Stam.

There are still five non-league teams in the competition with Barrow, Eastleigh, Lincoln City and Sutton United from the Conference National (fifth-tier) still involved, plus Stourbridge are the lowest-ranked team remaining as the Northern Premier League side are in the seventh tier and face a trip to League Two Wycombe Wanderers.

Wherever you look around there are intriguing storylines and potential banana skins. That’s the beauty of the FA Cup.

Below is the full schedule for the third round games, while click on the link above to follow the action live across the weekend.


FA Cup third round schedule – January 6-9, 2017

Friday
West Ham United v Manchester City – 2:55 p.m. ET

Saturday (all 10 a.m. ET kick offs unless otherwise stated)
Ipswich Town v Lincoln City
Barrow v Rochdale
Manchester United v Reading – 7:30 a.m. ET
Hull City v Swansea City
Sunderland v Burnley
Queens Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers
Millwall v AFC Bournemouth
Brighton & Hove Albion v MK Dons
Blackpool v Barnsley
Wigan Athletic v Nottingham Forest
Birmingham City v Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion v Derby County
Everton v Leicester City
Wycombe Wanderers v Stourbridge
Watford v Burton Albion
Preston North End v Arsenal – 12:30 p.m. ET
Stoke City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bristol City v Fleetwood Town
Huddersfield Town v Port Vale
Brentford v Eastleigh
Bolton Wanderers v Crystal Palace
Norwich City v Southampton
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon
Accrington Stanley v Luton Town
Rotherham United v Oxford United

Sunday
Cardiff City v Fulham – 6:30 a.m. ET
Liverpool v Plymouth Argyle – 8:30 a.m. ET
Chelsea v Peterborough United – 10 a.m. ET
Middlesbrough v Sheffield Wednesday – 10 a.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa – 11 a.m. ET

Monday
Cambridge United v Leeds United – 2:45 p.m. ET

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

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For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.

Gabriel Jesus confident he’ll return for Man City this season

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Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty ]

The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.

“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”

Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.

“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.

“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.

“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”

In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.