Its as you were for the outright betting to win the FA Cup because the best six teams in the Premier League progressed to the fourth round and it’s unlikely that any team from outside the elite will be running around Wembley with the Cup in May. In fact BetVictor make the Big Six 1/4 to lift the trophy this season and they go 11/4 the rest of the field of which Leicester are the shortest priced at 25/1.
The champions have a tough match at Derby in the fourth round and the winners of that tie will fancy their chances of having a good run that could culminate in a semi-final at Wembley. The staging of the last four matches at the national stadium reduces the scarcity value of the final that was very much about a day out at Wembley. Money is the motivating factor but now Old Trafford and the Emirates could accommodate a semi-final in the north and south making Wembley special again.
Despite the odd shock in the earlier rounds the cream usually rises to the top in the FA Cup. Since the start of the Premier League era for the 1992/93 season 46 of the 48 finalists have come from the top level of English football. In the last 24 seasons the average Premier League finishing position of the Cup winners has been fifth. The losing finalists averaged eighth place in the top league. All this despite the supposed unpredictability of knockout football. Something similar will happen this year.
We nailed our colours to the mast before the third round by tipping Manchester United to win the FA Cup. The elite clubs have the resources and squads to rest players early in the competition and then play them at the business end. By next spring Pep Guardiola could be desperate for some silverware and then the Cup becomes important for Manchester City. However, their neighbours and local rivals United are fancied to win the FA Cup for the 13th time which would be a record.
Every now and again a team from the Championship gets in the mix and Derby are best equipped from that league this season to reach the semi-finals and that can be backed at 18/1. They look like they are going places in the second Steve McLaren era and in Tom Ince and Darren Bent have players of Premier League class. The old Baseball Ground would have been buzzing for the visit of Leicester but whatever their stadium is called these days will be full despite the Friday evening start.
A lot depends on which Leicester turn up but the side are a very poor imitation of the one that caused the biggest upset in the history of team sports when they won the Premier League last season. There are three worse teams in the division but Leicester are not out of the woods and can be dragged into a situation which could lead to them being the first Premier League champions to be relegated the following season. Leicester look vulnerable at Derby and that side can make the last four.
Burnley are 8/1 in that market and that is another bet worth placing. The Big Six will collide at some stage and although two or more will probably reach the semi-finals that leaves two places up for grabs. Burnley have a winnable tie at home against Bristol City in this round and if they get another home draw in the last 16 they are well on their way. Burnley are the team in the Premier League with the biggest proportion of their total points won at home so the draw is paramount.
There’s no getting away from the fact that one of the superpowers will win the Cup but Derby and Burnley have much in their favour in the context of having a day out at Wembley which may be a one-off and just for a fixture in the round of the last four.