In the third round proper of the FA Cup, teams from the Premier League and Championship enter the fray. They join the 20 teams still alive from the preliminary rounds and the first and second rounds. This season, just three teams are still alive hailing from outside the top four divisions. The lowest of those is Maidstone United in the sixth tier. Maidstone hosts Stevenage from League One on January 6.

Those stories make the FA Cup what it is. Last season, it was Wrexham who went on a magical run in the competition as it reached the fourth round. Maidstone, Eastleigh, and Chesterfield have sights set on matching that this season.

Yet, this year’s edition of the FA Cup sets up massive fixtures in the third round. Based on the nature of the knockout tournament, major clubs will fall in this round. In total, there are four games involving two Premier League sides. None of those is bigger than the contest between Arsenal and Liverpool. These two clubs are atop the Premier League table, with the Reds of Liverpool holding a slight advantage in the league table.

That game is among five that are worth a look. For American audiences, every game in the FA Cup is available on ESPN+. The streaming service carries live coverage of each game from Thursday, Jan. 4 to Monday, Jan. 8. Later in the competition, it is likely ESPN will put some of the games on its TV channels, as it did with the aforementioned Wrexham run last season. However, that was in the fourth round.

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Top games in the FA Cup 2023/24 third round

Crystal Palace vs Everton — Thursday, Jan. 4, 3 PM ET

The first of the inter-Premier League games in the third round of the FA Cup comes from two teams struggling for form. After Everton won four games in a row, Everton has lost its last three league games. The 10-point deduction for breaches of financial fair play is creeping up on the Toffees.

Roy Hodgson saved his job, at least for a short while, with Crystal Palace’s win over Brentford. The Eagles opened a little bit of room with the relegation places. Now, Palace is six points above the drop. The FA Cup remains a potential point of solace for both Palace and Everton in what has been otherwise forgettable seasons.

Brentford vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — Friday, Jan. 5, 2:15 PM ET

Brentford has never won the FA Cup, and its total cup wins are minimal. If the struggling form in the Premier League is any indication, it may not be Brentford’s to win this year.

That starts with a game against Wolves, which has won three Premier League games in a row. Wolves fell in the third round last season against Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley — Friday, Jan. 5, 3 PM ET

The FA Cup third round also sets up Tottenham’s hosting of Burnley. Spurs have battled injuries this season which has thrown some of their young talent into the fray before Ange Postecoglou would have wanted. On the bright side, those players are getting ample experience.

Spurs’ 5-2 win over Burnley earlier in the campaign came when Tottenham rose to the top of the table. Son Heung-min grabbed a hat trick at Turf Moor. Vincent Kompany has failed to grab any kind of success in the league, which has slumped it to 19th in the table.

Sunderland vs. Newcastle United — Saturday, Jan. 6, 7:45 AM ET

Out of all the games in the FA Cup third round, few have the intrigue of the Tyne-Wear Derby between Sunderland and Newcastle. In the past, this was one of the best rivalries in English soccer. The two’s differing forms have led to them being in different divisions each season since the 2015/16 campaign.

All time, these two are dead even in their series. Both have won 53 games and played out 49 draws. The two northeastern clubs have no affinity for one another, and there have been displays of hooliganism.

Arsenal vs Liverpool — Sunday, Jan. 7, 11:30 AM ET

The only thing that could improve this tie is if it happened later in the competition. That would add to the significance of the game. As of now, these teams may focus on the Premier League.

Speaking of which, this is becoming a regular fixture for soccer fans. The two played in December to a 1-1 draw at Anfield. Then, after this FA Cup tie, the two clubs meet again on Feb. 4 in a Premier League clash. Liverpool also has the League Cup to worry about, which would give Arsenal more time for rest in between those games.

To see what other FA Cup games are available, visit our FA Cup TV schedule page.

To watch all of the games from the FA Cup, sign up for ESPN+. During January, more than 3,600 live events will stream on ESPN+, joining studio and original programming for a total of more than 3,800 programs. In addition to FA Cup matches in January, you can watch the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal quarterfinals, Copa del Rey, League Cup semifinals, Spanish Supercopa, and 39 matches from LaLiga.