The ‘Magic of the FA Cup’ may be a footballing cliché that invokes fire in the belly of fans up and down the country, but it can also prove a nightmare for many a punter.
The third round of the UK’s oldest cup competition sees the big boys come out to play, but it’s not always been a happy hunting ground for the Premier League and Championship big-wigs.
Last season, seven clubs from England’s top two tiers were felled by clubs plying their trade in lower divisions, up from five in 2012-13, and that’s not taking into account the same-league upsets.
So, as we all look to avoid those FA Cup banana skins, we’ve pulled out three favourites that can be trusted to do the business in the new year.
Treble these jollies up for a nice 9/1 third round treble…
They may be flying high in the Championship, with promotion a real possibility, but Brentford boss Mark Warburton is focussed on a good cup run, expressing recently how seriously he is taking the competition.
Brighton are another side languishing in the second tier, their win against Fulham at the end of December was their first since the start of November, and only their second since September.
The Bees meanwhile have lost their last two, but not without a fight. They’ve scored at least two goals in their last five at Griffin Park, and have won six of their last eight in front of their own fans.
Brighton will have the assistance of a new man at the helm in Chris Hughton, but we feel backing the west London side to confirm the form of their 3-2 victory over the Seagulls earlier this season is the way to go.
Wigan fans only have to travel nine miles for their away day on Saturday, but we think they could be wishing they stayed at home come 5pm.
Bolton’s ‘experienced’ front-line of Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey got off to a flyer for their new club against Blackburn last time, combining with two goals between them.
They could add to that figure against a Latics outfit that have lost five of their last six and are only kept off the bottom of the Championship table by Blackpool.
And with the Trotters unbeaten at home since October 4, drawing just once, they look in a strong position for a cup run.
The current Championship leaders are on an unbeaten run of 14 games coming into this, and are set to field a near-full strength side as Eddie Howe re-iterates that he will not de-value the FA Cup.
‘Keeper Artur Boruc is unavailable as he wasn’t registered in time, but the side have an able deputy in Lee Camp to step in.
Meanwhile, Rotherham have had to bid farewell to loanees Emmanuel Ledesma and Tom Lawrence who return to their parent clubs, while boss Steve Evans also has a number of injury worries.
The Millers haven’t tasted victory at New York Stadium since mid-October, and with the Cherries on a roll, the visitors look a nice price for success.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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