This weekend sees the third round of the FA Cup taking place in its traditional spot in the calendar, the first weekend of January. What better way to welcome in the New Year than with a return to cup action for the top teams in the land in what is always one of the biggest and most exciting weekends of the football season.
Over the last few years, the importance teams place on Champions League qualification and Premier League survival has meant Premier League teams and even some Championship teams, resting players for these early FA Cup games and that can lead to some surprising results, which has in turn led to some giant killings in the competition over recent years.
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However, when it comes down to actually winning the trophy, then it is the same old suspects that are top of the betting lists heading into the weekend. So we are going to take a look ahead and give you our tips for the teams to watch in the FA Cup this season.
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So without any further ado, let’s now take a look at the current odds available on the top teams in this season’s FA Cup to win the tournament outright. All odds are provided by bet365 Sport and are correct as of 1pm on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
As you can see from the list above, the usual suspects of the big six dominate the betting with Manchester City the 4-1 favourites from Liverpool who are 6-1, Chelsea 7-1, Tottenham 8-1, Manchester United 9-1 and Arsenal 10-1.
Those odds may seem short for teams that are involved in a 64-team battle to decide who wins the trophy but when you consider that since 1996, only two teams outside of this elite group (Portsmouth in 2008 and Wigan Athletic in 2013) have won the trophy, then you realise just how much these teams have dominated the event.
Arsenal and Chelsea in particular have racked up an impressive seven wins in the competition since 1996, with four wins for Manchester United, two wins for Liverpool and just the one for Manchester City. Tottenham’s last victory in the competition came just outside this time-frame back in 1991 when they beat Nottingham Forest.
The Gunners hold the record for the most number of wins in FA Cup history with 13, one more than Manchester United who have 12 victories. Chelsea and Tottenham are next with 8 apiece with Liverpool (along with Championship side Aston Villa) claiming seven wins. Manchester City have the fewest number of wins of the current top six in the Premier League with five (the same number as Everton, West Bromwich Albion and early victors in the tournament, Wanderers).
When it comes to appearances in the final, Arsenal and Manchester United are tied with 20 final appearances each, followed by Liverpool with 14 and then Chelsea (along with Everton and Newcastle United) on 13. Manchester City have made 10 appearances in the final, while Spurs have made 9 appearances, but have only lost one of those final appearances.
Third Round Draw
If we are going to assume that our winner of the FA Cup will once again come from this elite group of six teams in the Premier League, then the first place to start is by examining the fixtures that they have in the Third Round.
- Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham
- Manchester United v Reading
- Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
- Blackpool v Arsenal
- Manchester City v Rotherham
- Wolves v Liverpool
In truth, five of the top six should have little problem making it past the third round of the competition. I would expect Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arseanal and Manchester City to make it past this stage relatively comfortably even if, as I suspect they will, the teams play largely second-string and fringe players in these games.
The one question mark is Liverpool who face a difficult game against Wolves. The Reds beat Wolves at Molineux just before Christmas but that was in the Premier League and I think Jurgen Klopp will rest many key players for this game, while I feel Wolves may be tempted to go with at least the majority of their first team squad.
As such, as they did against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, I think Liverpool’s second string players may struggle a little against a strong Wolves side and even though I can’t quite see Wolves pulling off an upset, I can see them earning at least a draw and that would see them earn a replay at Anfield, where they defeated Liverpool in the FA Cup last season.
Assuming Liverpool could get through against Wolves, I think it then depends on the draw, as well as the teams managers select for their games as to which of the teams has the most chance of making the final, but I do feel that Arsenal and Manchester United in particular, not to mention Chelsea, may well be viewing the FA Cup as their best chance of silverware this season and as such, I feel they may well play stronger teams than usual in this competition.
FA Cup Outright Winner Tips
Here’s our tips for the FA Cup 2019
Outright Winner – Manchester United (9/1)
There’s no doubt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in has had a rejuvenating effect on Manchester United and while the Norwegian’s brief will have been to try and secure a fourth placed finish in the Premier League, or Champions League success, both of those do look unlikely.
Solskjaer will be smart enough to know that some silverware in this tough season would certainly appease United fans and I feel that the FA Cup is their best opportunity for this. United have the capability of beating any team on their day and Solskjaer seems to have them firing on all cylinders once again.
Given a favourable draw and strong team selection, which is always likely given United’s strength in depth, I fancy the Red Devils to earn their record-equalling 13th FA Cup win in May.
Each Way Outside Bet – West Ham – 33/1
If you are looking for a team that could surprise a few teams and earn a finals spot and a pay out if you back them to win the tournament each way, then I think West Ham are good value at 33/1. The Hammers have already earned good results against some top six teams this season and if they can reach the latter stages of the tournament, and get home draws, they have the quality in their squad to beat anybody in a one-off game.