The FA Cup 3rd round is my favourite weekend of the English football season. It is the weekend when players from all divisions get to perform on centre stage. It is the weekend when lower league players and semi professionals get to battle for 50-50 balls with the Wayne Rooney’s and Frank Lampard’s. It is the weekend of shocks and upsets. When people describe the magic of the FA Cup, this is the weekend they talk about.
I have run the rule over this season’s installment of the FA Cup 3rd round to give you the edge when placing your wagers and trying to predict the big ‘Cupsets’.
Arsenal v Leeds United
It was this weekend last season when Leeds United went to Old Trafford and beat Manchester United, so you have to be wary of Leeds’ giant killing potential. I am not so sure they have an upset in them this time. Leeds are 5th in the Championship and would much rather a promotion to the Premier League than a decent cup run, so they will not field a full strength team. Arsenal are also looking to maintain a lofty league position, but they are unlikely to overhaul Manchester United, so even though they will rest some players, the gunners should be targeting the FA Cup as a genuine trophy chance.
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win @ 1.34 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win by 2 or more goals @ 1.73 (Sportsbet)
Millwall v Birmingham
Millwall are having a good season back up in the Championship and are half a chance against a Birmingham team more focused with Premier League survival than this match. With crazy supporters roaring them on, the Lions might earn a replay in Birmingham, but the top tier club are great odds for the win and might be able to sneak through.
Andy’s Bet: Birmingham to win @ 3.15 (Betfair)
Blackburn v QPR
Rovers dismantled Liverpool during the week and will be full of confidence coming into this battle. QPR are having their best season in years and are likely to return to the top flight as they currently top the Championship. This should be an open and attacking match, so I’m predicting goals and a Blackburn win.
Andy’s Bet: Blackburn to win @ 2.04 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Bolton v York
York are 4 leagues below Bolton and it would be a massive shock if they even get a draw. Bolton have injury problems, but that will probably mean they won’t rotate too many players and will be close to full strength. Bolton are probably too short for a straight out bet, but are a great multiplier for a multi bet.
Andy’s Bet: Bolton to win @ 1.27 (Betfair)
Doncaster v Wolves
Cupset number 1! Wolves worked their socks off to beat Chelsea midweek and will struggle to back up for this match. Doncaster are mid table in the Championship so can go all out hoping for a good cup run without impacting a promotion or relegation race. Donny have won 4 of their last 5 at home and are every chance to make it through to the 4th round.
Andy’s Bet: Doncaster to win @ 2.70 (Sportsbet)
Sheffield United v Aston Villa
This will be another shock. The blades are traditionally a physical side who punch above their weight in the cup. Villa are languishing in the relegation zone and won’t fancy this at all.
Reading v West Brom
Reading are in form and good at home. West Brom are out of form, battling a long injury list and poor on the road. So even though Reading are in a lower division, they are good chance to get the win.
Andy’s Bet: Reading to win @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Hull v Wigan
Wigan had a good festive period beating Wolves and drawing with Arsenal and Bolton. Hull are worse than mid table in the Championship and haven’t won at home in their last 2 matches. In Jimmy Bullard the tigers do, however, have a star player. With his long hair and lanky physique Bullard might look like he comes from the 70s, but he might be what Hull need to earn a replay.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.30 (Sportsbet)
Southampton v Blackpool
The saints have fallen a long way from the heights of an FA Cup final appearance in 2003 and top half finishes in the Premier League. They are now in League One and are two leagues below the big time. The positive is that they have seemingly bottomed out and should gain promotion back to the Championship this campaign. Blackpool are surpassing everyone’s expectations and sit comfortably mid table amongst England’s elite in the top flight. They might fancy a good little cup run too. I was going to back Southampton for a sneaky upset, but I have just looked at the odds and they are very short so I’m going for the value and going for a draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.50 (Sportsbet)
Manchester United v Liverpool
This fierce rivalry is the main attraction for fans on Sunday night. I’ve got a funny feeling that this could be the occasion that inspires a lackluster Liverpool. The reds have stumbled all season, but what better stage to make a statement for your club. Manchester United have a recent history of 3rd round shocks. Losing to Leeds last year and being held by Burton Albion in 2006. If Gerrard, Torres or Joe Cole fire, the reds can win and may just save manager Roy Hodgson’s job.
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool to win @ 5.75 (Luxbet)
Crawley Town v Derby County
This could be the biggest story of all. Talk about the romance of the FA Cup! If Blue Square Premier side Crawley could knock off Championship opposition that would be something. Apologies if you’re a Derby fan, but I really hope it happens. Derby have been doing ok in England’s secondary league, but they will be pushed by a Crawley team playing for their lives. Sometimes in the FA Cup, desire can be enough, I am hoping this will be one of those times
Andy’s Bet: Crawley Town to win @ 3.40 (Sportsbet)
Sneaky FA Cup Multi
I reckon all of the other Premier League clubs I have not mentioned will win, except Stoke, they might draw with Cardiff. The teams I think will win are Everton, Fulham, Sunderland, West Ham, Newcastle, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City. If you multi those teams together along with Arsenal and Bolton I think you have a good chance of a decent payout.
Andy’s Bet: Everton, Fulham, Sunderland, West Ham, Newcastle, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Bolton all to win @ 28.00 (Sportsbet)