The last time Tottenham Hotspur won a major trophy was in 1991, but they look like a good bet to end their long wait for a trophy in this year’s FA Cup.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks, Manchester City are the big favorites to win the FA Cup this season at +350, though their closest Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea are not far behind. Tottenham, who have been improving under Antonio Conte, are rated at around +800, while Manchester United and Arsenal make up the rest of a familiar looking top six.
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Learning from History in FA Cup Betting
The FA Cup was first staged during the 1871-72 season, so that means we have plenty of evidence to look through as we try to assess the futures FA Cup betting markets this year, although there have been some dramatic changes to the way that teams approach the tournament in the Premier League era.
Since the Premier League launched in the 1992-93 season, nine different teams have won the competition, but four of those clubs have won it just once. The remaining 26 FA Cup editions have been won by just five teams: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
This is a marked difference from the traditionally open tournament that in the 1980s had seven different winners. This dominance by the big clubs is even more remarkable when you consider that most top Premier League clubs often don’t play their full-strength teams during the early rounds of the competition.
Betting on the Big Five in the FA Cup
Technically, the 2022-23 tournament has already begun, as the qualifying rounds kicked off on August 6. The First and Second Rounds take place on November 5 and November 26, but the tournament really takes off in January’s Third Round when all 20 Premier League clubs and the 24 Championship clubs join. In theory, it is possible for an amateur team to qualify all the way to the final. In practice, the tournament is usually won by one of five clubs.
Manchester City are the strong favorites, with Liverpool also favored, but neither have a great record in this competition. In fact, both teams have won the FA Cup only twice in the Premier League era. Both will also be serious contenders in the Champions League as well as fighting it out for the Premier League title, so neither make much appeal at short odds.
So, if you’re considering a bet on the Big Five, there could be more interesting options elsewhere. In fact, given Tottenham’s improvement under Antonio Conte, we should really be talking about a Big Six. Tottenham’s inability to win trophies – their last success came with the 1991 FA Cup – is a source of much amusement for their London rivals, but having finished fourth last season, they will be serious challengers here, and they have a manager who likes this trophy.
In two seasons as Chelsea manager, Conte steered his team to consecutive FA Cup finals, winning one of them. Last year’s Fifth-Round loss to Middlesbrough was disappointing, but it came at a time when Tottenham were at a low ebb in the Premier League. Having spent big this summer, things could be different this time round, and Spurs fans would be delighted to see them lift the trophy in June.
Betting on FA Cup Challengers and Underdogs
Although the history of the FA Cup is littered with shocks and unexpected results, it is rare for a genuine underdog to lift the trophy. The most recent shock was when Wigan beat Manchester City in 2013, but Wigan were at that time in the Premier League (although they were relegated that season), as were Portsmouth when they beat Championship Cardiff City in 2008.
The last team from outside the top division to win the FA Cup was West Ham in 1980. So, when betting on FA Cup challengers and underdogs, it is generally the best idea to focus on Premier League teams. In theory, teams who are not likely to be involved in relegation battles should be the best option as, by the time January comes round, they will not be as intensely focused on the Premier League as those clubs that face a battle for top-flight survival.
Brighton certainly fit that description. Manager Graham Potter has built a team that last season finished inside the top half of the Premier League table, capable of beating any rival in a one-off encounter. They are not likely to be challenging for Europe but have the ability to go deep in the Cup competitions, and at their current odds, they offer a little value in the FA Cup winners’ market.