It’s FA Cup third round time which means the Premier League sides have come to join the party. Like all the cool kids they arrive late and demand all the attention, but should you be putting your hard-earned cash on them to see off the plucky underdogs this weekend?
We cracked open the history books in Power Tower and went through the last five years of FA Cup third round ties to see how the top flight sides fared when facing lower league opposition in round three. The results are as murky as Gary Barlow’s tax affairs.
As you can see, bar 2011, not many Premier League teams lose in their FA Cup third round games, but there has been at least one ‘cupset’ every year for the last five years. The other worrying news if you’re backing Premier League teams is that the win percentages are hardly convincing – owing to several draws leading to replays.
- In three of the last five FA Cup competitions, more than a third of top flight teams have slipped up against lower league opponents in the third round.
Newcastle are the stand-out culprits here, as the Magpies are the only top flight side to appear in the losing column twice. The Toon Army lost 2-0 to Brighton in the third round of the 2012/13 FA Cup season, and lost 3-1 away to Stevenage at the same stage in 2011/12.
So who is likely to be the side that slips up this year – and which underdog can punters back at a tasty price?
Our first potential cupset could be at high-flying Southampton. The Saints have got their season back on track after a slippy spell back in December, and just three teams in the top flight have a better home record than Southampton. However, Ipswich (second in the Championship) are visiting St Mary’s this weekend, and the Tractor Boys aren’t used to losing. In fact they’ve lost just one of their last 19 league games, and have lost just two on the road this season. Southampton are the 4/11 favourites, with Ipswich at 7/1 and the draw, an ever so tempting 16/5.
At Loftus Road QPR face Sheffield United who are currently sat in the promotion places in League One. The South Yorkshire side are in a dubious run of form – four draws and two defeats in their last six games – but Rangers have problems of their own under Harry Redknapp. QPR are just two points off the relegation zone, and after a heavy fixture list through Christmas, and with a potential relegation six-pointer against Burnley looming next week, Redknapp might be tempted to ring the changes. Rangers are 8/13 to win with Sheffield United at 4/1, and the draw at 5/2.
- Which top flight team will come unstuck this weekend? All the latest odds are here: Desktop | Mobile
A lot of the other top flight sides seem to have favourably draws. Chelsea (1/7) and Manchester City (1/7) have got home ties against Watford and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, while Manchester Utd (1/5) travel to League One strugglers Yeovil. West Brom (1/5), Crystal Palace (2/5) and Stoke City (1/7) have all drawn sides in the fifth tier of English football – Gateshead, Dover Athletic and Wrexham.
Swansea (4/11) travel to the North West to face a Tranmere side fighting for their football league survival, and Aston Villa (4/11) face a Blackpool side that has won just twice in the league this season. Sunderland (1/2) face Leeds Utd who are winless in their last five league outings, while finally Liverpool (1/5) travel to AFC Wimbledon on Monday off the back of just one defeat in their last seven.
Will it be all rosy for the top flight teams this weekend? Or can any of the lower league opposition live up to every ‘underdog cliché’ that BT Sport will inevitably roll out unashamedly?