There’s one new year tradition to which those of us who dragged ourselves back to work this week can look forward, namely the FA Cup third round, still the most compelling couple of days in English football.
From a punters’ perspective, however, the cup has become rewardingly predictable: four teams have won 20 of the 24 finals contested since 1992 – a success ratio of 83 percent.
Backing Chelsea, currently priced at 7/1, (bet365) or last season’s winners Arsenal (7/1, Stan James) over this period would have offered astute punters a better-than-evens chance of success. Add Manchester United (8/1, BetVictor.com) and Liverpool (9/1, Skybet) into the mix and almost all bases are covered.
Sunderland face the most difficult assignment possible, a third round tie against Arsenal at the Emirates. The Gunners are priced at 2/7 (Ladbrokes) to win through to the fourth round at the first time of asking, whereas the Black Cats are quoted at 11/1 (Winner.com) to cause an FA Cup upset.
However, the stalemate (5/1, William Hill) will appeal to backers not expecting to see full-strength line-ups, while bet365’s eye-catching 11/1 posted against it finishing 1-1 will also attract punters anticipating some unexpected names on the team-sheet. None the less, Stan James’s 6/1 for Arsenal to win 2-0 is the correct score market’s most well-backed outcome. A 1-0 win for Big Sam’s men is offered at a tempting 40/1 by Paddy Power – surely one for footballing romantics?
Newcastle United have a tough-looking tie against a buoyant Watford.
Having lost at home to the Hornets in the league earlier in the campaign, Steve McClaren’s charges head south priced as Ladbrokes’ 7/2 underdogs. Bookies are unanimous in their belief that Watford will win – they’re best-priced at 10/11 by William Hill, while the draw is offered at a generous-looking 11/4 by BetVictor.com.
Bet365 chalk an attractive 11/1 against Newcastle winning 1-0, while Skybet post 10/3 about them enjoying a one-goal margin of victory.
Elsewhere, Stan James offer 9/2 about both halves ending in stalemate.
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