The first weekend of the New Year and that traditionally means it is FA Cup Third Round weekend. The time when the big boys from the Championship and the Premier League join up with the teams remaining from the Second Round of games to try and earn a spot in the fourth round of the competition.
As always, the romance of the FA Cup is always evident when one of the lower league teams causes an upset and defeats one of the top teams. These giantkillings are not just great for the game and the competition, but they can also be a lucrative option for punters who are on the look out for a great longer odds selection.
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So without any further ado, let’s now take a closer look at the matches where we think there is a real possibility of a giantkilling in the FA Cup and which are the best bets to back on each of these games.
*All odds provided by bet365 Sport and were correct as of 12pm on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur
The Birkenhead-based League Two side only reclaimed their league status this past season after three years in the Vanarama Conference, and their reward for defeating Southport in the last round is a chance to take on Premier League’s current second placed side, Tottenham Hotspurs.
Tranmere have beaten the likes of Sunderland, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Everton, West Ham and Bolton when they were Premier League sides and their most famous FA Cup win was their 4-3 victory, from 3-0 down at half time, against Southampton many years ago.
Spurs will undoubtedy rest key players for this game and last season when they did this, they struggled against Newport County, earning a win in the replay at Wembley. I feel Spurs may require a replay again here as I fancy the home team to perhaps snatch a draw and earn themselves a trip back to Wembley in the replay.
- Best Bet – Draw – 6/1 with bet365
West Ham v Birmingham City
There’s no doubt that Manuel Pellegrini’s team are starting to find better form, but they remain an inconsistent side and I fully expect the Chilean manager to rest some key men in this game, especially after a busy Christmas period of fixtures for the Premier League teams.
Birmingham have only been beaten five times this season in the Championship, that is the joint fewest of any teams in that division. They are well organised under Garry Monk and I think they will be looking at this game as a chance to cause an upset.
Certainly, West Ham should win the game if they played a full strength team and although their reserves are not bad players, I think Birmingham could frustrate them and perhaps earn themselves a chance of an upset in a replay.
- Best Bet – Draw – 10/3 with bet365
Derby County v Southampton
Earlier this season, Frank Lampard’s young Derby side went to Old Trafford and put in a fabulous display, earning a 2-2 draw in normal time and then defeating United on penalties to knock Jose Mourinho’s then side out of the Carabao Cup. Now the Rams will be hoping that they can produce a similar performance against Southampton on Saturday.
The Saints have a new manager themselves in Ralph Hassenhutl but results have been a little erratic so far and the Austrian may be looking to the January transfer window to bring in a couple of players to improve the Saints situation.
For me, this is the game that I think has the biggest chance of an upset as Derby are in decent form in terms of not being beaten, and Southampton are struggling. I also feel the Saints may rest key players to prioritise their Premier League games, which I feel also plays into Derby’s hands.
- Best Bet – Home Win – 9/5 with bet365
Newport County v Leicester City
Last season, Newport County managed to take Tottenham to a replay at Wembley before succumbing to defeat, and they once again face Premier League opposition as Leicester City will take the trip to South Wales on Sunday to try and secure the win to take the Foxes into the fourth round of the cup.
Newport’s recent form isn’t that great and the Welsh side’s only recent win came in the FA Cup, a second round victory over Wrexham in a replay. Their league form since that win has been poor while Leicester’s in contrast, has been excellent.
Leicester will rest players for this game I am sure, but I feel that Claude Puel has a very strong squad and his team is well drilled enough to be able to cope with several first team players being absent and as such, I think they’ll go one better than Spurs managed last season and secure the win at the first attempt here.
- Best Bet – Leicester City to win – 2/7
Wolves v Liverpool
These teams met earlier in December with Liverpool coming out on top as 2-0 winners in the Premier League. The Reds have enjoyed a superb season so far and are top of the table, while Wolves too have enjoyed a great season, their first in the top flight for a few years, as they also sit comfortably in the top half.
Even so, a Wolves win here would certainly count as a giant killing and given that Nuno Santo’s men managed to earn a 3-1 win over Tottenham just a few days after the Liverpool defeat, it shows that they are certainly not a team to be underestimated.
I am sure Liverpool will rest key men for this game on the back of a busy festive period and that could well play into Wolves hands, especially if Wolves don’t follow suit. If they do then I see this being a more even contest and in truth, I think that is precisely what will happen.
- Best Bet – Draw – 13/5 with bet365