FA Cup betting: Big guns enter the fray for third round

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Updated: January 9, 2016

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The tone for tonight’s massive card of FA Cup Third Round action was set on the south coast last night where the minnows of Exeter City played out a gripping 2-2 draw against the giants of Liverpool, albeit with a side barely recognisable for the regular EPL starting XI. The world’s oldest cup competition gets going in earnest this weekend when clubs from England’s top two leagues make their entrance. It is a weekend that for many remains the highlight of the English football calendar, with 64 clubs of varying stature and backgrounds battling it out – from Premer League champions Chelsea all the way down to non-league Eastleigh.

On Saturday the club currently competing in England’s fifth tier will take on one of the historic names of English football, Bolton Wanderers. While they have won the competition four times, and famously triumphed in the first final ever played at Wembley Stadium in 1923, Bolton have fallen on hard times both on and off the pitch, and are now rooted to the foot of the Championship. A defeat to the Spitfires would pile on yet further misery. Arsenal were the victims of one of the most notable FA Cup giant-killings, when going down to Wrexham, then bottom of the entire Football League, in 1992.

 

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Eastleigh manager Chris Todd poses with the FA Cup trophy

But they are also the most successful club in the competition’s history, lifting the famous old trophy on 12 occasions. In the past two seasons they have swept all before them in winning back-to-back trophies. It means they enter this season’s competition with a chance to become the first club to win three successive FA Cups since the 19th century. The FA Cup has declined in importance in recent years, hurt by the money offered by the EPL and Champions League. Thus it is likely that when Arsenal, chasing a first League title in 12 years, take on a Sunderland team battling to avoid relegation, both teams will make a number of changes to their line-up.

In contrast, given their poor first halves of the season, Manchester United and Chelsea may be tempted to treat the FA Cup with more importance than they would have envisaged doing at the start of the campaign. Louis van Gaal can ill afford anything less than a convincing win when his team hosts League One side Sheffield United on Saturday. Chelsea have been the most successful club in the FA Cup over the past decade, winning it four times. One of those triumphs came when Guus Hiddink was in charge for his first interim spell. His attempt to repeat that feat will begin tomorrow with the visit of League One opponents Scunthorpe United.

 

bet365

 

Confirmed bets (card finalised)

Wycombe Wanderers (L2) v Aston Villa (PL) BTS (one unit @ $1.90)
Brentford (CH) v Walsall (L1) +1 (one unit @ $1.85)
Northampton Town (L2) WIN v Milton Keynes Dons (CH) (one unit @ $2.70)
Southampton (PL) v Crystal Palace (PL)/double chance (one unit @ $2.10)
Arsenal (PL) v Sunderland AFC (PL) +3 total (one unit @ $2.05)
Doncaster Rovers (L1) v Stoke City (PL) BTS (one unit @ $1.90)
Birmingham City (CH) DNB v AFC Bournemouth (PL) (one unit @ $2.62)
Leeds United AFC (CH) v Rotherham United (CH) WIN (one unit @ $4.00)
Peterborough United (L1) WIN v Preston North End (L2) (one unit @ $2.60)
Sheffield Wednesday (CH) WIN v Fulham (CH) (one unit @ $1.85)

 

Today’s other games (PL = Premier League CH = Championship, L1 = League One, L2 = League Two, NL = non-league)

Watford (PL) v Newcastle United (PL)
West Bromwich Albion (PL) v Bristol City (CH)
West Ham United (PL) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (CH)
Hartlepool United (L2) v Derby County (CH)
Colchester United (L1) v Charlton Athletic (CH)
Newport County AFC (L2) v Blackburn Rovers (CH)
Ipswich Town (CH) v Portsmouth (L2)
Bury (L1) v Bradford City (L1)
Everton (PL) v Dagenham & Redbridge (L2)
Eastleigh (NL) v Bolton Wanderers (CH)
Nottingham Forest (CH) v Queens Park Rangers (CH)
Huddersfield Town (CH) v Reading (CH)
Middlesbrough (CH) v Burnley (CH)
Norwich City (PL) v Manchester City (PL)
Hull City (CH) v Brighton & Hove Albion (CH)
Manchester United (PL) v Sheffield United (L1)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Bet365 (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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