FA Cup Third round is traditionally one of the more special dates in the English football calendar, and though COVID-19 threatens to derail plans once more, this weekend has some tasty clashes on offer. But where could the upsets come and who faces a potential banana skin?
First of all, though, in terms of tie of the round, Manchester United’s meeting with Aston Villa is arguably the pick of the bunch.
Fresh from defeat at home to Wolves, fellow West Midlanders the Villans will look to inflict successive losses on Ralf Rangnick’s men. Though a good deal of rotation is expected, the visitors may be able to call upon Philippe Coutinho after his arrival from Barcelona on Friday.
Villa look good value here given the Red Devils’ ongoing problems in both attack and defence, and Steven Gerrard should be cleared to take his seat in the dugout post-COVID-19. Retaining a history of clashes with United during his Liverpool days, The Villa boss will be keen to make things difficult for United and the draw at 29/10 with MansionBet might be one to consider.
If we are seeking a cupset meanwhile, Hull City versus Everton looks like it could supply the ammunition. Two sides battling against relegation in the top two tiers, the Tigers are winless in 18 FA Cup games versus Premier League sides, but could cause problems for Everton, who remain shaky at best. At the KC Stadium, Hull may be tough opposition and will be eyeing a place in R4 at the expense of the Merseysiders. To do so at 13/4 with UniBet, the hosts look fair value.
Saturday’s earliest kick off between Mansfield and Middlesbrough at Field Mill also looks like it could spring a surprise. The League Two side have won their last three FA Cup games versus teams higher than them in the English football pyramid, so the scalp of a Championship side on home turf may not be so far-fetched. If a win at 5/1 though might feel a bit too much of a leap though, for Mansfield to force a replay, the Nottinghamshire side are 3/1 with QuinnBet, Betway and Sporting Index.
Morecambe are another fourth-tier in side action on Sunday, this time against Premier League opponents Tottenham on their own patch. Spurs, though continuing to transition under Antonio Conte will surely have enough to advance, but the value here could be in BTTS. For the Lancashire side to join the Lilywhites in the goals in R3, Novibet’s 31/20 is enough to stoke interest.
As is Cambridge United’s trip to Newcastle United. With the Magpies set to flash the cash in the transfer market during the coming month, the U’s may not look like immediate banana skin material, but for cathedral city side to also register BTTS to with their hosts, UniBet will oblige you with a similar price of 7/5.
Perhaps the other game to consider is Championship versus League One, as tier three leaders Rotherham make the trip to west London to face QPR. As Loftus Road plays host to two sides looking at promotion from their respective leagues, both teams may be looking to prioritise matters elsewhere. That should not however, take away from what on paper looks an open encounter. The Yorkshire side have netted 16 goals in their last seven outings, and on the road are a sizeable threat.
In those terms we should perhaps look to the goals market, and for Rotherham to score over 1.5 goals, a price of 9/4 with Bet365 and William Hill looks manageable. For Paul Warne’s men to rock the boat further meanwhile, an away win at 13/5 looks equally enticing.