Yorkshire hopes of causing upset in third round may lie in East End

With six Yorkshire clubs pitted against Premier League opposition in tomorrow's FA Cup encounters, Richard Sutcliffe assesses the White Rose chances of causing any surprises.

Traditionally one of the highlights of the English football calendar, the FA Cup third round day has become something of a graveyard in recent years for Yorkshire clubs.

With the commendable exception of Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, instances of clubs from within the Broad Acres still being in the world's oldest knockout competition beyond the first or second weekend in January have been the exception rather than the rule.

Sheffield Wednesday, for instance, last progressed beyond this stage a decade ago, while Hull City 'boast' an even worse record with just one solitary progression past the third round since 1990.

There have, of course, been some stirring Cup exploits involving White Rose clubs with Barnsley's feat of knocking out Liverpool and Chelsea en route to a semi-final defeat to Cardiff City at Wembley in 2008 being the highlight.

Leeds United also pulled off an amazing upset last season when beating Manchester United at Old Trafford, while Premier League Birmingham City were humbled at Huddersfield Town three years ago

Sadly, however, these memorable victories have been more than out-weighed by the number of defeats suffered by our teams on a weekend that invariably has the minnows dreaming and the big boys fearing an almighty shock.

So, can we look forward to a memorable few Cup stories in Yorkshire tomorrow? Or will it turn out to be as depressing as this season's League Cup where not one of our teams managed to stay in the competition beyond the end of August – quite a feat for a county boasting nine members of the Football League.

There are several glamour ties involving Yorkshire sides with Leeds United's trip to Arsenal being perhaps the pick due to the evocative images conjured up by a draw that has paired together two clubs with a long-standing rivalry.

The 1972 final may, as Norman Hunter admitted in this newspaper yesterday, have been far from a classic but Allan Clarke's diving header remains one of the iconic images of United's history, while the four ties that it took to separate Leeds and George Graham's Arsenal 20 years ago serves as a happy reminder of a time when winning the Cup was preferable to finishing fourth.

Jermaine Beckford's winner at Old Trafford last season has also added to the intrigue surrounding a tie that has been selected for live transmission by ITV tomorrow lunchtime but, even so, it is difficult to imagine anything but a home win at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger may ring the changes after two Premier League games in quick succession earlier this week and a Carling Cup semi-final tie against Ipswich Town to come on Wednesday.

But with those being brought into the side expected to include Andrei Arshavin and a fit-again Aaron Ramsey, the starting line-up is likely to be formidable and one that Leeds will have all on to try and contain.

Also taking on Premier League opposition tomorrow are York City, Sheffield United, Hull City, Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley.

Of those, York have by far the toughest task with a trip to Bolton Wanderers to take on a side who are enjoying a fine season.

Sitting seventh in the table, Owen Coyle's men have every chance of qualifying for Europe so, for the Minstermen, tomorrow is likely to be about savouring the occasion and putting on a display every bit as brave as the one that saw the non-League club beaten 3-1 at Stoke City at the same stage last season.

The remaining quartet of ties pitting Yorkshire clubs against Premier League opposition offer much more chance of an upset due to the teams in question occupying the bottom four places of the table.

Of those, Aston Villa are, even allowing for the recent 3-3 draw at Chelsea, struggling so Sheffield United have nothing to lose tomorrow at Bramall Lane.

Doncaster are also on home turf against a Wolverhampton Wanderers side buoyed by back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Chelsea, while Barnsley travel to East London to take on a West Ham United outfit still reeling from a 5-0 hammering by Newcastle United.

Completing the ties involving the top-flight's bottom four is Hull City's meeting with Wigan Athletic at the KC Stadium and it is here that perhaps the biggest chance exists of a bloody nose being inflicted on a Premier League side. The Tigers' recent run of just one defeat in 10 Championship outings shows the progress that has been made in the past couple of months, while the recent takeover by the Allams has already allowed manager Nigel Pearson to splash the cash to sign Aaron Mcclean and Matty Fryatt.

Elsewhere, in-form Championship side Bristol City are likely to have have too much for Sheffield Wednesday at Ashton Gate, though Middlesbrough, who boast comfortably the county's best FA Cup record after reaching three quarter-finals and a semi-final in the past five years, should make light work of League Two Burton Albion.

The same can be said about Huddersfield Town, who host the lowest-ranked club still in the Cup, BlueSquare South Dover Athletic, at the Galpharm Stadium.

Sutcliffe's third round predictions: Going through – Hull, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield.

Going out – Barnsley, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Doncaster and York.

Replays – Sheffield United.