FA Cup predictions – Sutton v Inside Bad Education podcast

FA Cup predictions – Sutton v Inside Bad Education podcast

We know someone will spring a surprise on FA Cup third-round weekend, but who will be the victims this time?

BBC Sport’s football expert Chris Sutton has made his predictions for all 32 ties – including a ‘derby’ between two of his former clubs – and given his verdict on who will make it into round four.

For selected matches, including the BBC’s three televised games, Gillingham v Leicester (12:30 GMT on BBC One on Saturday), Sheffield Wednesday v Newcastle (18:00, BBC One, Sat) and Manchester City v Chelsea (16:30 on BBC One on Sunday), Bad Education writer and podcast host Nathan Bryon has made his predictions too.

Nathan hosts Inside… Bad Education, the companion podcast to the cult school sitcom, which is returning this month for a brand new series on BBC Three and iPlayer.

Each week on BBC Sounds, Nathan will be joined on the Inside… Bad Education podcast by the cast and fellow writers to chat through the twists and turns of each episode, taking listeners behind the scenes at Abbey Grove school.

The Bad Education Reunion Special, which was released in December to mark the 10th anniversary of the show’s launch, is available on iPlayer now.

FA Cup predictions – Sutton v Inside Bad Education podcast
Nathan Bryon interviewed star and co-creator of Bad Education, Jack Whitehall, for the Inside… podcast about the Reunion Special, which is a swansong for Jack’s character, Alfie

Nathan is a QPR fan who is not exactly used to seeing his side enjoy success in the FA Cup – the last time they reached the quarter-finals was in 1995, when he was three.

“I live in Manchester now but I grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, right next to our stadium,” Nathan told BBC Sport. “It is literally at the end of my mum’s road.

“So it was a case of ‘that’s where you go’ even though QPR were pretty terrible most of the time when I was growing up – they are my team, and I just had to ride it out.”

Will this year be any different? Sutton doesn’t think so – he has tipped QPR to lose to League One side Fleetwood on Saturday – but Nathan is feeling confident.

“I went to watch us against Sheffield แมนเชสเตอร์ ยูไนเต็ด on Monday – we conceded a late equaliser, but we were very good to watch – I actually think it was the best football I have seen us play in my life,” he explained.

“When I used to watch us a lot back in the day, we didn’t really try to pass the ball like that. We’d just kick the ball up in the air, chase it and lose it… and then get it back and do the same again – for 90 minutes.

“So, things are much better now. Chris has gone for Fleetwood to win? Not a chance – QPR to win that one, 100%, although we very rarely score more than one goal.”

Chris Sutton and Nathan Bryon were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.


Premier League v League Two

Gillingham v Leicester 79 x-x 0-2 1-3
Aston Villa v Stevenage 59 x-x 3-0

I don’t know how many many changes Leicester will make but they should still be too strong for Gillingham, who are bottom of League Two and haven’t won in the league since 1 October.

Similarly, I don’t know how strong a side Aston Villa boss Unai Emery will put out, but they are at home and that greatly reduces the chances of a shock result. Stevenage are on a decent run and going for promotion from League Two but even a shadow Villa side will have too much for them.

Premier League v League One

Tottenham v Portsmouth 51 x-x 2-0 1-1 A
Sheff Wed v Newcastle 43 x-x 1-1 A 1-2
Oxford v Arsenal 57 x-x 1-1 A 1-2

A = Away team to win at home in the replay.

If Tottenham boss Antonio Conte picks Harry Kane and Son Heung-min then they will beat Portsmouth comfortably.

If Conte rotates his squad, then Pompey obviously have more of a chance, but they have just sacked their manager after a bad run of results and they are not in the sort of form that suggests they can go to Spurs and spring a surprise.

Eddie Howe used to be known for making 10 or even 11 changes to his team for FA Cup ties when he was in charge at Bournemouth, so it will be interesting to see what he does when his Newcastle side travel to Sheffield Wednesday.

Newcastle are doing brilliantly in the Premier League, and have got a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Leicester coming up on Tuesday. Their fans already love Howe – imagine how they would feel about him if he lands them a major trophy?

This is a tricky tie, though, with Wednesday in good form and going for automatic promotion.

I don’t see a repeat of last season, when Newcastle were upset by another League One side, Cambridge, at St James’ Park, but they might have to survive a bit of a scare to make it through to round four – and I think it will be a similar story for Arsenal.

It wasn’t on the same scale as Newcastle’s shock exit, but the Gunners also suffered a surprise defeat in last season’s FA Cup when they went out to Nottingham Forest.

We are going to see Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta use plenty of his fringe players again here, which is understandable given their position at the top of the Premier League.

I have a feeling Oxford will rise to the occasion in front of the TV cameras and although I don’t see Arsenal going out, they might need to take the U’s back to Emirates Stadium to finish the job.

Nathan Bryon: Sometimes in the FA Cup things can just go wrong for you on the day – and I think that Spurs might have one of those days. If Portsmouth can take them to a replay, then I think they will knock them out. Well, that’s what I want to happen anyway! There is no way Sheffield Wednesday are beating Newcastle though, even with a sprinkle of FA Cup magic, and the same applies for Oxford against Arsenal.

Premier League v Championship

Blackpool v Nott’m Forest 27 x-x 1-0
Bournemouth v Burnley 5 x-x 2-1 0-2
Hull v Fulham 29 x-x 1-1 A
Middlesbrough v Brighton 17 x-x 2-2 A
Cardiff v Leeds 26 x-x 0-3 0-3

A = Away team to win at home in the replay.

Nottingham Forest had a great run in the FA Cup last season – beating the 2020 and 2021 winners, Arsenal and Leicester, and running the future winners, Liverpool, close – while they charged up the Championship on their way to promotion.

This time, they are the Premier League team trying to avoid defeat against a Championship side. Blackpool have not won for a while, home or away, but this tie might just kick-start their season.

Highlights: Ruthless Forest knock holders Leicester out of FA Cup

With his Burnley side top of the Championship, wouldn’t it be great if Vincent Kompany really went for it in the FA Cup, after winning it as a player with Manchester City in 2011? I actually think Bournemouth need the win more, however, because they are sliding badly in the Premier League.

In contrast, Fulham and Brighton are both playing with freedom at the moment and I’d fancy them to get past Hull and Middlesbrough, even if they both need a replay to do it.

Boro are a team on the rise under Michael Carrick, though, so they are definitely one to watch.

It is 21 years since Cardiff shocked Leeds with a famous FA Cup third-round win but I don’t see the Welsh side causing them any problems whatsoever this time.

Part of the reason for that is that Cardiff are playing so poorly at the moment, but I also think Jesse Marsch will pick a strong side and that Leeds will play with their usual intensity.

Nathan Bryon: It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Burnley beat Bournemouth but I don’t want Leeds to suffer an upset. I’m based in Manchester now, but I like watching them.

Premier League v Premier League

Man Utd v Everton 14 x-x 0-1 2-1
Crystal Palace v Southampton 8 x-x 2-0 1-0
Brentford v West Ham 8 x-x 1-1 A 2-0
Liverpool v Wolves 13 x-x 2-1 1-0
Man City v Chelsea 8 x-x 3-1 2-2 H

A = Away team to win at home in the replay.

H = Home team to win away in the replay

Coming off a bad defeat at home to Brighton, there is no leeway for Frank Lampard when it comes to his team selection for struggling Everton’s trip to Manchester แมนเชสเตอร์ ยูไนเต็ด.

Lampard made lots of changes when his side played Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup in November, and they lost heavily. If the same happens this time, then there is a good chance he could also lose his job.

Match of the Day analysis: Frank Lampard or the board – who is to blame for Everton woes?

But because of the circumstances, and also because of what happened the last time Everton were in Manchester – for a battling draw with City a few days ago – I just have a feeling they can nick something here against the odds.

Everton might need a lucky break – maybe even a Harry Maguire own goal! – to grab the win, but I certainly don’t see it being easy for แมนเชสเตอร์ ยูไนเต็ด despite their excellent form.

I am almost at the stage where I might refuse to make any more predictions for Crystal Palace, because they are so inconsistent, but they really should get past Southampton on Saturday.

Saints have lost all four of their league games under Nathan Jones, and they never really looked like scoring against Forest on Wednesday. I still think they would have had a better chance of staying up if they had stuck with Ralph Hasenhuttl, but I feel sorry for Jones because he has walked into such a mess.

It is only a few days since Brentford went to West Ham and won in the league but I am going for the Hammers to sneak past them here, although it will be close.

I feel like I keep getting fooled by Liverpool after seeing the Bees become the latest team to expose their defensive issues, but I am backing Jurgen Klopp’s side to get past Wolves.

As holders, surely Liverpool have to pick a strong side and I think they will need their big-hitters to get past Wolves, who have come to life under Julen Lopetegui.

Manchester City have not really hit their stride since the World Cup, and a few callers to 606 this week blamed Erling Haaland for that – saying their goals are not spread around the team anymore – which I thought was extraordinary.

Chelsea have far bigger problems right through their team and, although it was close when they met at Stamford Bridge in the league on Thursday, I am expecting Pep Guardiola’s side to beat them comfortably at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Last year’s runners up have reached four of the past five FA Cup finals, but they won’t make it to Wembley this time.

Nathan Bryon: I’m not convinced แมนเชสเตอร์ ยูไนเต็ด are an amazing team or anything, it’s more that Everton just aren’t very good at the moment. Southampton are having a bad time of things too, while Brentford wiped the floor with Liverpool at the start of the week and I am a west London boy so I’m backing them to beat West Ham.

Liverpool were bullied by Brentford but you know what happens after a game like that – Jurgen Klopp gets into them and gets a reaction. City will beat Chelsea, but they are going to have to do it the hard way, in a replay at Stamford Bridge.

Championship v non-league

Chesterfield v West Brom 66 x-x 2-1 0-3
Coventry v Wrexham 60 x-x 2-0 2-0

I smell an upset at Saltergate, despite West Brom’s recent improvement.

Chesterfield are flying at the top of the National League and they will be full of confidence after beating two Football League sides, Northampton and Wimbledon, to get here.

Wrexham will fancy their chances too but I am a fan of Coventry boss Mark Robins and just feel his side will have too much nous for them.

Nathan Bryon: I’ve been watching the Wrexham documentary, which is so good, and I want them to win… but I don’t think the FA Cup gods can make that happen. I see that Chris has gone for Chesterfield to upset West Brom, but I don’t see that one in the stars either.

Championship v League Two

Hartlepool v Stoke 52 x-x 0-4

No upsets here. Stoke have just suffered a couple of narrow defeats in the Championship, and I think they will take their frustration out on Hartlepool.

Championship v League One

Forest Green v Birmingham 31 x-x 1-1 A
Fleetwood v QPR 25 x-x 1-0 0-1
Ipswich v Rotherham 6 x-x 0-2
Shrewsbury v Sunderland 32 x-x 1-1 A

A = Away team to win at home in the replay.

Birmingham have not really got going in the Championship this season but Forest Green are having an even worse time of it at the bottom of League One.

QPR have gone out of the FA Cup in the third round 50 times, more than any other club, so would it be a surprise if they went out to Fleetwood? Not for me it wouldn’t.

Ipswich are going for promotion back to the Championship but, sadly for them, that is only going to end up with them losing in the play-offs in the spring. Before then, they are going out of the FA Cup to Rotherham on Saturday.

Shrewsbury have caused a few cup upsets in their time, but I like the look of Sunderland under Tony Mowbray, and the Black Cats are due a cup run – they have not got past round three since 2015.

Nathan: That stat about QPR is pretty bad, isn’t it! It doesn’t surprise me, because I remember us losing a lot in every cup competition. I do love the FA Cup though, because you can go along, get a cheap ticket and get to watch a good game and sometimes see a bad team play very well and shock a good team. There won’t be any upsets at Fleetwood, though – we are going to break that curse!

Championship v Championship

Preston v Huddersfield 13 x-x 1-0
Reading v Watford 9 x-x 1-1 A
Millwall v Sheff Utd 4 x-x 1-0
Luton v Wigan 17 x-x 2-0
Bristol City v Swansea 4 x-x 1-1 A
Norwich v Blackburn 8 x-x 1-2 0-1

A = Away team to win at home in the replay.

Huddersfield won at Preston over Christmas in what was a rare away win for the Terriers but I’m going for North End to edge it this time.

Reading boss Paul Ince has hinted he will rest some players for his side’s tie with Watford and I am actually going to predict a replay, which neither side will particularly want, before the Hornets come out on top.

Millwall and Sheffield แมนเชสเตอร์ ยูไนเต็ด are both going for promotion so I can understand it a bit more if they rotate their squads – let’s go for a Lions win there because I have under-estimated them in the past.

Wigan have lost their past three games by the same scoreline – 4-1 – and although I don’t see them shipping quite as many goals against an in-form Luton side, it will still be the same result.

Bristol City versus Swansea is a tough one to call but I am going to say that Swansea’s good football under Russell Martin will ultimately see them through.

That just leaves the tie that everyone is calling ‘the Chris Sutton derby’ between two of the teams who were lucky enough to have me playing for them in my heyday.

When I left Norwich to join Blackburn in the summer of 1994, the Canaries were immediately relegated from the Premier League and Rovers won the title, so I will leave you all to work out how important I was to both clubs.

This time? Well Blackburn’s win at Carrow Road before Christmas was one of the reasons Dean Smith lost his job as Norwich manager, with David Wagner’s appointment imminent as his replacement.

Wagner has a lot of work to do because the Canaries don’t seem to have any link up between their midfield and attack. I feel sorry for Teemu Pukki because he is not getting any service.

Blackburn are a strange side in that they have lost almost half their league games but are third in the Championship because they have not drawn any yet. They probably won’t have to play particularly well to beat Norwich at the moment.

League One v non-league

Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley 41 x-x 1-2 1-0

National League side Boreham Wood were one of the stories of last season’s FA Cup when they beat top-flight Bournemouth in the fourth round.

They are the lowest-ranked side left in this year’s competition too, but I think their fairytale ends against Accrington, who have got a really canny manager in John Coleman.

Nathan Bryon: I am going for Boreham Wood, because I want to see them get a really big club in the next round.

League One v League Two

Grimsby v Burton 19 x-x 2-1

Grimsby have not made it to round four since 2000, when they were a Championship side. They are the underdogs here, but Burton are struggling in League One so I think Paul Hurst’s side could edge it.

League One v League One

Derby v Barnsley 2 x-x 4-3

There’s not much sentiment left in football these days but I am going to go for a Derby win because I come from the same Norfolk village as Rams boss Paul Warne.

Both teams are doing well at the top of League One so let’s go for some goals too, with Barnsley to score three but still go out.

League Two v League Two

Stockport v Walsall 4 x-x 1-0

Looking at the league table, there is not much to choose between these sides, who are two points apart in 13th and ninth, but Stockport won when they went to Walsall at the end of December.

There will be a big crowd at Edgeley Park – to watch County win with a goal in injury-time, I expect.

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