Big guns begin to show their class as FA Cup field thins

The so-called “Magic of the Cup” expired as soon as the third round began this season, with further evidence of the Premier League’s might in the competition on show during Saturday’s fourth-round fixtures.

Only one top-flight club, Swansea City, has suffered the embarrassment of losing to lower-league opposition so far. By the time the draw for the sixth round is made, there could be as many as 11 entrants from the highest division.

For all the supposed romance and excitement over potential giant killings, there remains only one non-Premier League finalist in the FA Cup in the last 10 years. Adding to that tally this season looks a remote possibility on the most recent evidence.

Four of the top five teams in Ladbrokes’ betting for the competition ran out convincing winners in their ties and it looks like another final containing some of the biggest teams in the country is creeping up on us.

Manchester City, the 9/2 co-favourites, routed Aston Villa 4-0 on the road, while Arsenal, who share that price with the Citizens, ended Burnley’s hopes at the Emirates.

Despite all the gloom hanging over his second season in charge of the club, Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United gave the Dutchman something to smile about with a 3-1 win over Derby. The former Holland coach is given a 6/1 chance to lift the famous trophy come May.

At 7/1, Tottenham Hotspur rate a decent prospect to win the FA Cup, having strolled past League One strugglers Colchester United with a brace from Nacer Chadli contributing to their 4-1 success.

Unsurprisingly, Premier League teams dominate the betting. Hull, at 66/1, stand the best chance of upsetting the top table according to the prices and, at such lengthy odds, are hardly screaming out to be backed.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.