Can Anybody Stop The Big Five In Their Quest For FA Cup Glory?
The big news from the last round of the FA Cup was that the current holders of the trophy, Arsenal, are now out of this year’s competition. Nottingham Forest produced one of the performances of the round to defeat an under-strength Arsenal side 4-2 at the City Ground to record one of the biggest upsets of the weekend.
The Gunners joined Stoke City and Bournemouth being dumped out of the competition by lower league opponents and many have speculated that this now opens up the way for any one of the other big five Premier League teams left in the tournament, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham or Liverpool to take the trophy.
The question is, what are the chances of one of these five teams taking the trophy? Let’s take a closer look by analysing the current betting, their games this weekend and the quality of potential opponents they could face in the remaining rounds of the competition.
Yeovil Town v Manchester United (Friday, 7.55pm)
Manchester United are the second-favourites to win the trophy and while they face a long trip south to face Yeovil Town, I think the chances of this being a cup giant killing is very small indeed. Jose Mourinho has tended to pick stronger teams than most of his rival managers in this competition and there is no chance he will take this Yeovil team lightly in front of a big TV audience.
While I do expect Yeovil to keep things tight, I think United’s ability on the ball, their strength in depth, their pace and attacking quality will be amply enough for them to get the job done here at the first attempt and I don’t see any other result here other than a strong United win.
Prediction: Manchester United to win 3-0 – 11/2 with Coral Sport
Newport County v Tottenham (Saturday, 5.30pm)
For their fantastic victory over Leeds United in the last round, Newport County earned a fantastic home tie against Tottenham Hotspurs in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. There’s no doubt the home side will be hoping for a draw, for a lucrative big payday at Wembley, but given the form Tottenham are in at the moment, particularly their striker Harry Kane, that looks a long shot.
If Christian Eriksen is fit and plays, then Spurs could win this one by a cricket score. The Dane was sorely missed in the league last weekend in Spurs 1-1 draw away to Southampton, but I feel he should be fit enough to come back here, if Pochettino wants to risk him. I think he’ll get at least 60 minutes and that should be enough for Spurs to record a comfortable win.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur to win 4-0 – 17/2 with Coral Sport
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion (Saturday 7.45pm)
Liverpool come into this game on the back of a rare defeat away to Swansea City in the Premier League. The Reds were very poor on Monday night in Wales and they now face a West Brom team at Anfield who earned a 0-0 draw there just a few weeks back and who also came away with a 1-1 draw from their trip to Everton last weekend.
Alan Pardew’s starting to have some impact at the club now since taking over from Tony Pulis, but this is still a huge ask for his team. Jurgen Klopp picked a strong side to face Everton last time out in the FA Cup and I think he’ll do the same again here and that should be enough for Liverpool to get the win, though I don’t see it being by too many goals.
Prediction: Liverpool to win 1-0 – 13/2 with Coral Sport
Chelsea v Newcastle United (Sunday 1.30pm)
It’s relatively clear that Rafa Benitez main focus this season is preserving Newcastle United’s status in the Premier League and I think an away trip to Stamford Bridge is not going to see him risk too many star men in the FA Cup here.
That said, I don’t think Chelsea will be at full-strength either, but given the quality of their squad and Newcastle United’s generally defensive outlook, I can’t see anything other than a relatively comfortable win for the home side here. It will be interesting to see if Batshuayi plays, with speculation that the Belgian striker could be on his way from the club.
Prediction: Chelsea to win 2-0 – 6/1 with Coral Sport
Cardiff City v Manchester City (Sunday 4pm)
The favourites to lift the trophy are Manchester City who are a 3/1 shot with Coral. Pep Guardiola does tend to rest key players in FA Cup games, but such is the strength in depth for City that even a side that has several key stars rested, is still a team packed with experienced International quality players.
Cardiff have proven to be one of the stronger teams in the Championship under Neil Warnock this season and they have fervent home support, but City have looked imperious at times this season and with them still being in line to win all four competitions they entered this year, I fancy them to get the job done at the first time of asking here.
Prediction: Manchester City to win 2-0 – 6/1 with Coral Sport.
Could anybody beat the big guns to the FA Cup this season?
Assuming all of the big five get through the Fourth Round, then who are the teams most likely to stand a chance of either knocking them out of the tournament, or even pipping them to the FA Cup trophy.
Here’s the odds on the other 27 teams remaining in the tournament at the Fourth Round stage, without any of the top five teams listed:
- Leicester City – 20/1
- Southampton – 25/1
- West Ham & Watford – 40/1
- Swansea City & Newcastle Utd – 50/1
- West Brom, Brighton, Huddersfield Town – 66/1
- Middlesbrough & Sheffield Wednesday – 80/1
- Sheffield United – 100/1
- Hull City – 125/1
- Reading, Preston, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City – 150/1
- Cardiff City – 200/1
- Wigan Athletic – 250/1
- Peterborough, Rochdale, MK Dons – 400/1
- Coventry City – 500/1
- Notts County – 750/1
- Newport County & Yeovil Town – 1,500/1
As you can see, the bookmakers don’t rate the chances of hardly any team to upset the form book and perhaps take the FA Cup this season. Leicester are the best priced of the other sides at 20/1, but I think the best odds bet here is an each way punt on West Ham United who are motoring under David Moyes now and who are still a 40/1 shot.
The Hammers do face a tricky trip to Wigan Athletic though and if Moyes rests key men, that could be a banana skin, but if they get through that then they are a team capable of upsetting the big boys, as Tottenham have already found out to their cost this season.