We’re down to the last 16 in the FA Cup and there have already been some shocks. So will we have another unexpected winner, or will the big guns re-establish their FA Cup dominance?
Who do Bettors Favor?
There is a familiar look to the FA Cup betting at the best online sportsbook sites, at least that is, familiar to those who regularly wager on the Premier League.
Reigning Premier League champions and current league leaders Manchester City are the clear favorites, but their perennial rivals Liverpool are as ever close behind, with Chelsea ranked as third favorites. Fellow Londoners Tottenham are attracting some support, ahead of Everton, West Ham, Southampton and Crystal Palace, whose manager Patrick Vieira lifted the Cup four times as an Arsenal player.
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What can we Learn from FA Cup History?
The FA Cup has been running since 1872 so there is plenty of history to grapple with and much that we can learn, although it is probably best to focus on the post-1992 Premier League era, as the nature of the competition, and the way that it is approached by teams has changed radically since then.
In the Premier League era, there have been nine different winners of the FA Cup, but four of them: Everton, Portsmouth, Wigan and last year’s winners Leicester, have won it just once. The remaining FA Cup titles have been shared between five clubs: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, though United have only won it once in the last 18 years.
The dominance of the big clubs in recent years is a significant departure from the traditional volatile nature of the FA Cup, and it is all the more remarkable given that it has become common for big and even mid-ranking Premier League teams to play weakened line-ups until the later rounds of the tournament. Leicester’s victory last year was written up as a significant surprise, despite the fact that the Foxes finished fifth in the Premier League table.
The Big Three
The most successful FA Cup team in the Premier League era so far is Arsenal, who have won it nine times. The Gunners, however, are no longer in the tournament, having crashed out against Nottingham Forest, while Manchester United fell on penalties to Middlesbrough.
That leaves a Big Three of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to dominate the Futures markets. While City are the obvious favorites, they haven’t dominated the FA Cup in the same way that they have monopolized the Premier League in recent years. The same can be said for Liverpool. Both have won the FA Cup only twice in the Premier League era.
The team with the most eye-catching record of the three is Chelsea. The Blues have won the FA Cup seven times since 1993, more than City and Liverpool combined. One reason for that may be the high turnover of Chelsea managers, which gives them a small window to earn some silverware, and the FA Cup is far less demanding to win than the Premier League or the European trophies.
Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have already shown they can match the league champions so they won’t fear any opponent for the rest of the tournament, and with an easy Fifth Round draw against lowly second-tier side Luton, they already look booked in for a quarter-final spot at least.
Which Other Teams can win the FA Cup in 2022?
There are seven other Premier League teams in the Fifth Round, but like the Big Three, most of them may have other priorities. Dean Smith’s Norwich have started to pick up in the league and Smith is a much-underrated manager, particularly when it comes to knock-out football, but they’ve landed a tie at Anfield, so don’t look at a good bet.
It is possible to make a case for West Ham, or even Everton, who have the easiest draw of them all, at home to fifth-tier Boreham Wood, but if you’re looking for a team outside the top three, Tottenham could be the answer at a good price.
Antonio Conte is one of the best managers in the world, and a little like Jose Mourinho in his prime, is focused on winning silverware almost to the exclusion of everything else. The demanding Italian coach is a man in a hurry, and his Tottenham side, strengthened by some astute signings in the January window and the return to form of Harry Kane, is improving steadily. The FA Cup is also the last trophy that Tottenham won, back in 1991, and their only likely prospect of a significant trophy in the next year or so.
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