Possible, not plausible, there isn’t a Premier League name on the FA Cup
Only four of the last 32 FA Cup finals have been contested by a team from outside the top-flight – an average of one every eight years. None have lifted the trophy, yet half of the 10 sides left in this year’s draw play outside of the Premier League.
Coral are offering monster special odds of 20/1 on the winners coming from outside the top-flight in light of that. The lowest ranked team left in the world’s oldest knockout football competition are League One strugglers Sheffield United. They are 66/1 to go all the way and win it.
Nigel Clough’s credentials – a losing finalist as a player under his father Brian at Nottingham Forest – are not as ridiculous as they sound, however.
The Blades have knocked out opposition from higher divisions in each of the last three rounds. Casualties of Clough junior giant-killings were Aston Villa, Fulham (both Premier League sides) and his former club Forest.
Sheffield United’s reward is a potential Steel City derby with Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter-finals – something the Blades boss said he used to spur his side on.
The Owls, also 66/1, must keep up their end of the bargain by beating rank outsiders Charlton Athletic (125/1) in all-Championship clash though.
Hillsborough was in no fit state for football when the fifth round tie should have originally been played. Wednesday will face the Addicks in a rearranged match on February 24th.
Brighton and Hove Albion, another Championship club, also have the chance of pulling off a shock when they host Hull City in round five. There’s a certain irony in the Tigers being more fancied at 20/1 than the Seagulls (33/1) to win the FA Cup, yet Albion are 6/4 favourites to win the tie on February 17th.
Whoever gets through that clash will face Capital One Cup finalists Sunderland (16/1 for the FA Cup) in the last eight of the more illustrious domestic competition. The prospect of facing former manager Gus Poyet may be motivation for Brighton, now coached by Spaniard Oscar Garcia.
Holders Wigan Athletic are not fancied to repeat their upset of Manchester City in last season’s final when they travel to the Etihad. City are odds-on favourites to lift the trophy this term at 10/11. The Latics, under former Sky Blues favourite Uwe Rosler, are 66/1 to retain the cup.
Revenge for City, who sacked Roberto Mancini in the wake of their shock Wembley loss and brought in Manuel Pellegrini to replace him, may be a dish best served cold on the weekend of March 8th and 9th. Lightning is not likely to strike twice here.
An all-Premier League tie between two of the current top-six, Arsenal (3/1) and Everton (6/1), completes the quarter-final line-up. It is hard to look past the Gunners and City for cup glory.
Punters that are sceptical about the prospects of Championship and League One sides in the FA Cup must remember Bradford City’s run to the League Cup final last season.
Then a League Two team, the Bantams showed, particularly by beating Arsenal, that it is perfectly possible for sides from outside the top-flight to reach Wembley.