Premier League clubs have made an average of almost eight changes for this weekend’s FA Cup ties so far.
With one game to go, the Monday evening clash between Liverpool and Wolves, each of the 18 top-flight teams in action so far have changed at least five players from their last Premier League game.
Watford led the way by naming a whole new XI against Woking. It did not stop them winning 2-0, although the second goal came from club captain Troy Deeney after he was reintroduced from the bench.
Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted “Probably I made it tough for us” after Manchester United were one of three teams to make nine changes for their third-round clash.
They beat Reading 2-0 and Crystal Palace edged past 10-man Grimsby, but Bournemouth were not so fortunate as they lost 3-1 in their all-Premier League tie against Brighton.
The Cherries were one of five top-flight sides eliminated, with a sixth certain to follow at Molineux.
Huddersfield made eight changes and lost 1-0 at Bristol City, Cardiff and Leicester switched seven apiece for their respective upsets against Gillingham and Newport, and Fulham lost to Oldham with a team showing six alterations.
Everton made the fewest changes, five, before beating Lincoln 2-1. Their goals came from two of the new faces, Ademola Lookman and Bernard, in the first 15 minutes.
The Cottagers were joined by West Ham and Southampton in making half a dozen changes – the Hammers eased through, but Saints face a replay against Championship side Derby County.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery also handed in a team sheet containing only six changes, but was forced into a seventh when defender Laurent Koscielny reported an injury in the warm-up.
It's clear that the Premier League managers aren't truly prioritising the FA Cup, but who can blame them given the hectic festive period they've just gone through.
Maybe as the tournament progresses, stronger teams will be played, but for now, it's safe to say the managers made their feelings pretty clear about the FA Cup third round.News Now - Sport News