The third round of the FA Cup is almost over and there’s only one replay between Watford and Tranmere left. I don’t want to be disrespectful to both sides but I don’t think any of them has a strong chance of winning the trophy.
That’s why I decided to share my betting preview of the FA Cup outright winner market and reveal my prediction.
The Draw for Round 4
Before I explore each of the favorites and share my betting pick, let’s take a look at the draw for the fourth round of the competition.
Queens Park Rangers – Sheffield Wednesday
Northampton Town – Derby County
Brentford – Leicester City
Southampton – Tottenham Hotspur
Millwall – Sheffield United
Reading – Cardiff City
West Ham United – West Bromwich Albion
Burnley – Norwich City
Coventry City – Birmingham City
Newcastle United – Oxford United
Portsmouth – Barnsley
Hull City – Chelsea
Manchester City – Fulham
Watford or Tranmere – Manchester United
Shrewsbury Town – Liverpool
AFC Bournemouth – Arsenal
As you can see above, most of the favorites have an acceptable clash and are expected to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
It’s only natural to start my FA Cup outright winner betting preview with the main favorites for the trophy, so let’s take a look.
The reigning English champions and FA Cup holders are the favorites of most bookmakers. Considering the quality and depth of the squad, as well as the comfortable draw for the next round, it’s easy to see why.
Pep Guardiola and his men might be extra motivated, as the Premier League is out of their reach and they might fail again in the Champions League. That would put the manager under a lot of pressure and the FA Cup is one of the ways to please the fans and the board.
Manchester City certainly can win the trophy but the odds of 9/4 or so are too low. It’s still early days and I wouldn’t back any team at such a price.
Liverpool is arguably the best football team in the world right now. The Reds already won the Club World Cup, they are on course to lift the Premier League for the first time in 30 years and are the current holders of the Champions League.
They certainly have the quality to fight for the FA Cup as well. The only problem is that Klopp is rotating a lot for the tournament. He started plenty of youngsters and had severe troubles against Everton in the third round.
If he keeps doing the same, Liverpool will eventually be eliminated. That’s why I don’t think that backing the side makes sense right now. The odds of 9/2 offered by most bookmakers are simply not good enough.
Frank Lampard had a great start as a Chelsea manager but has faded a bit ever since. I believe that he has struggled to use the full depth of his squad. The gaffer developed a lot of youngsters but he failed to extract the best out of seasoned veterans like Olivier Giroud and Pedro.
I think that Lampard has a lot to learn in this regard and this is why I don’t see Chelsea as a huge favorite for the FA Cup.
Another team that needs something to save the season is Tottenham. The Spurs are obviously way below the expectations and that cost Mauricio Pochettino his job.
Jose Mourinho replaced him and the start was rather positive. However, Harry Kane’s injury and the problems at the back are hurting Tottenham. The team is far from its best and currently lacks identity.
Most of the players are used to Pochettino’s system while Jose is trying to apply a completely different approach. I’m not sure that the Spurs can win the FA Cup under such circumstances.
Next in line is Leicester. I really like the team and Brendan Rogers deserves a ton of credit. The Foxes are in an excellent position to qualify for the Champions League next season and I think this will be their main priority.
It will help Leicester keep some of the star players and attract even more top talent. Not to mention the financial benefits that come along.
That’s why I expect to see the club fully focused on the Premier League. Leicester can certainly challenge for the FA Cup with a favorable draw, but the price of 10/1 or so simply seems too low right now.
I think this is one of the clubs that are worth considering for the FA Cup. While the results are still inconsistent, Mikel Arteta has changed Arsenal and the team plays with a lot more discipline and purpose.
It might be too late to save the season through the English Premier League but the FA Cup and Europa League are still there. I believe that Arteta will be looking at those two tournaments as the best chances to salvage something and bring confidence to the side for the future.
The Gunner should only improve by the end of the season and they might strengthen in January, so I believe the price of 13/1 or so for them to lift the FA Cup is worth a shot.
If you look at Manchester United’s performance in the big games of the season so far, the Red Devils have often stood strong. They have beaten the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, and Leicester.
And yet, they have been struggling against many other teams. Since United might be facing Watford away from home in the fourth round, that’s not good news.
I think the lack of consistency means that Manchester United won’t be able to challenge for the trophy.
Can the Rest of the Field Truly Challenge?
You have to go back to 2013 if you want to find an FA Cup winner that wasn’t among England’s top clubs at the time. That’s when Wigan lifted the trophy and while several other teams came close in the next couple of seasons, the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea have dominated the competition.
The top sides won’t play each other in the 4th round and many of them will be looking at the FA Cup as the only way to salvage their season. That’s why I wouldn’t back some of the other clubs, despite the tempting odds.
FA Cup Predictions and Betting Pick
It’s still early days in the FA Cup and a lot will depend on the draw. That’s why I think going after the best value at this point is the reasonable decision. Manchester City is the most likely winner, in my opinion, but the price is not right.
Instead, I’m going to back Arsenal. The new manager Mikel Arteta should improve the Gunners further and they will be eager to find some success this season. I think the FA Cup represents a good opportunity and the team will try to grab it.
Pick: Arsenal to Win