Liverpool look the value after the FA Cup draw
Portsmouth, in 2008, and Wigan, last year, showed there can still be true romance in the FA Cup, but in the main this famous old trophy is another competition earmarked for the big boys these days.
So though there will be upsets along the way and there might even conceivably be another exception to the rule, the strong likelihood is that it will be won by one of the usual suspects.
Since the Premier League started in 1993 and the bigger clubs became bigger still, the FA Cup has been won on 15 occasions out of 21 by either Chelsea (six wins), Arsenal (five) and Manchester United (four). Liverpool (triumphant in 2001 and 2006) are the only other team to have lifted it more than once in this modern era.
It might be Liverpool’s turn again. Coral make them joint third favourites with United at 15/2 behind City (9/2) and Chelsea (11/2) and just in front of Arsenal (8/1).
Of course you need good fortune to win the FA Cup, but Lady Luck has at least started out with a smile at Anfield by giving Brendan Rogers’ men a home draw against lower league opposition.
Not having any European distractions (or involvement in the latter stages of the Carling Cup) is helpful, too, but more important, Liverpool have shown they are a match for anyone on their day, while also possessing game-changing strikers of the calibre of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
The other market leaders all have tricky, but very winnable ties to negotiate, but north London rivals Arsenal and Spurs have been drawn against each other in the stand-out game of the round.
What is it with these famous old players doing Cup draws? First Sir Geoff Hurst puts his beloved England in the World Cup ‘Group of Death’ and now Teddy Sheringham gives his old team the draw they probably dreaded most!
The nature of straight knock-out competitions means that you can never be too confident about the outright winner, so it might be wise to look around for a saver and the team that catches the eye is Southampton (25/1).
The Saints, of course, caused one of the major FA Cup upsets of all time when they beat Man United in the 1976 Final, but – now boasting several players on the verge of the England squad – it wouldn’t be anything like such a shock if they were to go all the way again.
First up is Burnley at home in one of several intriguing ties pitching leading Championship sides up against Premiership opposition.