The oldest and most prestigious Cup competition in world football, the FA Cup, is steeped in history. The 134th edition of the iconic tournament has remained true to its values of stunning upsets, reflected by the last 16 clubs that remain in the hunt for the final showpiece or rather by those that aren’t.
While the trophy may have been lifted on 58 occasions by some of the teams that remain in this year’s draw, it is difficult to ignore the absence of Premier League giants Manchester City and Chelsea, both stunned in round four.
Not to mention Liverpool and Manchester United needing replays against lower league opposition and Arsenal scraping through against Brighton.
Another interesting fact is that only 10 Premier League teams remain in the last 16, with a further three expected to drop out due to all Premier League clashes. Throw in a few more upsets and we could see a non-top-flight club winning the iconic trophy for the first time since West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0 in 1980.
Shocking FA Cup Results
While the battle for the Premier League title and achieving Champions League qualification remains the priority for most top-flight clubs, the prospect of lifting the FA Cup remains on the agenda for many, and not only clubs that ply their trade in the Premier League, as supported by the amount of upsets the tournament has dished up through the years.
West Ham’s victory over Arsenal in the 1980 final is one of those giant killing moments’ synonymous with the Cup, especially when you consider the Gunners finished fourth in the First Division that season with the Hammers languishing in seventh, a division below.
Other stunning upsets through the years saw Hereford knocking out Newcastle 2-1 in 1972, Wrexham ousting the Gunners by the same score-line 20-years later, Harry Redknapp, in his first managerial job in 1984 led Bournemouth to a 2-0 victory over a dominant Manchester United who at the time were gunning for a third consecutive trophy, and Dave Beasant who saved a John Aldridge penalty to give Wimbledon a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the 1988 final.
A shocking result when you take into account that before and after that final, Liverpool had lifted the First Division title on no less than 10 occasions during a 15 year spell, such was their dominance at the time.
While these upsets remain etched in FA Cup history, round four of this year’s competition added an additional two great FA Cup shocks, which not only blew the tournament wide open, but will also be spoken about for decades to come.
Manchester City On Receiving End Again
Defending Premier League Champions Manchester City, were on the receiving end for a second successive year. Last season Wigan sent City crashing out of the quarterfinals with a 2-1 defeat however this season it was the turn of Championship contenders Middlesbrough, after they outplayed Pelligini’s multi-million pound squad by a comprehensive 2-0 winning margin.
And if that wasn’t enough excitement, League 1 side Bradford City produced a masterclass with a 4-2 demolition of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, one of the truly great stories of the FA Cup.
Although not quite on the same scale, Tottenham, 8-time winners of the FA Cup, and high flying Southampton, also found themselves on the scrapheap after being expected to advance through against Leicester and Crystal Palace respectively.
With the last 16 now decided and a host of top clubs watching from the sidelines, one would naturally expect the winner to come from Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool, as suggested by betting exchange, WBX, however despite the FA Cup representing the only realistic chance of silverware for these three teams, there will be a focus on Champions League positions which could very well open the door for a few more surprises.
United are desperate for some silverware this season and an FA Cup win will see them move ahead of Arsenal with the most Cup titles on 12. They will also want to eradicate the memory of being dumped out in the third round last season by Swansea.
United currently sit third in the Premier League, ten-points off leaders Chelsea, however you can bet that Van Gaal will be plotting a way to the top with a third of the season still to go.
Manchester United at 13/5 are favourites on WBX to lift their first FA cup since 2004, however with their title aspirations becoming more of a priority as the season unfolds, could the opportunity of laying against them at 100/30 be a more attractive idea?
The Gunners are at 5/2 to defend their title and with the form of Alexis Sanchez and the return to fitness and form of a host of top stars, Arsene Wenger’s side look a decent bet.
Wenger will have to rely on all of his squad as they remain in the hunt for a Champions League position and are also through to the knock-out stages of Europe’s premier competition which could result in a few sacrifices along the way, in this case, the FA Cup?
The harsh realities of top-flight management have certainly been on the mind of Brendan Rodgers this season. After missing out on the Premier League title last season by just two points, his team currently languishes in seventh place, although just four points off a Champions League position.
This will be a major focus for Rodgers and his team down the final stretch of the season, however you can bet at 5/1, a first FA Cup triumph since 2006 will remain very much a priority and the perfect farewell gift for the departing Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard.
West Ham at 100/8 to lift the trophy for a fourth time and Stoke at 100/6 could be worth considering. Both sides look set for Premier League survival and can put all their resources towards a Wembley final.
Sunderland and West Brom at 25/1, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at 28/1 and Leicester at 40/1 are the other Premier League sides left in the draw. An upset win by either of these five could see them join Wigan as the only other club to win the iconic trophy and get relegated from the premier League in the same season.
WBX is one of the world’s leading sports betting exchanges, offering peer-to-peer betting opportunities, competitive odds and live betting on every match, plus the ability to back or lay bets and lock in profits. WBX is an excellent place to make your winning FA Cup bets. New members can also claim up to £25/€25 in free bets.
WBX is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain