Always seeking to highlight the romance of the FA Cup, the television companies have selected to show live coverage of matches they desperately hope will throw up major shocks; however, they look set to be disappointed.
In a repeat of last season’s final Arsenal take on Hull and just as they were at Wembley in May, it’s the Gunners that look likely to be celebrating at the Emirates Stadium, where they’re William Hill’s 1/3 favourites.
The Tigers, 9/1 outsiders with BetVictor, took the 2014 final to extra-time so there could be a few punters tempted to back them at 9/2 courtesy of Stan James to force a replay, especially as Steve Bruce’s charges earned a share of the spoils when the pair met in North London in October.
This though, will be an entirely different occasion. Arsene Wenger’s men have looked far stronger since that Premier League stalemate while the opposite can be said of Hull and the hosts should subsequently be able to make their home advantage count.
Wimbledon stunned Liverpool in the 1988 final but the Dons are unlikely to repeat the feat almost 27 years later. Admittedly, the Reds, Paddy Power’s 2/9 jollies, have plenty on their plate at present but they’ve shown in their march to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup that they can cope with a busy fixture list.
Brendan Rodgers’s side however, won’t replenish the Christmas coffers at such slender odds so it’s worth considering a flutter on the pacy Raheem Sterling to break the deadlock at 9/2 (bet365).
Manchester United were mauled 4-1 by League One MK Dons in the League Cup at the start of the campaign but they’ve found a new lease of life and can brush aside more third tier opposition in the shape of Yeovil.
Non-league Dover are looking to cause a huge upset as they take on Crystal Palace and BetVictor chalk the Conference outfit up at 7/1 to stun their Premier League opponents. A change at the helm should revitalise the Eagles though and they look a safe bet at 4/9 via Stan James.
Elsewhere, Winner.com rate Chelsea at 1/7 to ease past Watford, Manchester City are only marginally bigger at 1/6 with Ladbrokes ahead of their tie against Sheffield Wednesday and the same firm go 2/5 about a Swansea triumph at League Two Tranmere.
Punters on the hunt for upsets meanwhile should keep an eye on several potentially mispriced match-ups. Sheffield United’s recent cup pedigree makes them an interesting outsider at 9/2 via Stan James to overcome QPR, Paddy Power post an inflated looking 10/3 against West Ham eliminating an Everton side low on confidence and BetVictor’s 8/1 about a victory for buoyant Ipswich at a Southampton outfit set to make changes, looks a little high.
Raheem Sterling to score first – 9/2 (bet365)
Ipswich to beat Southampton – 8/1 (BetVictor)
Arsenal to beat Hull ‘to nil’ – 23/20 (betway)
Man Utd (-2) to beat Yeovil – 6/4 (Winner.com)
Double on Crystal Palace and Swansea – evens (Coral)