It is F.A. Cup third-round weekend or, as English Premier League clubs call it, a chance to rest the top stars.

Managers will say players need a rest after three games over the holiday period, but the fact is the F.A. Cup is loose change compared to the Premier League. Victory at Wembley is worth £1.8 million to the winner compared with a minimum of £100 million for simply remaining in the elite league and double that for those who finish near the top.

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