The FA Cup third round kicks off this Friday and this is the stage where England’s big teams enter the competition.
All 20 Premier League clubs and 24 Championship clubs joined in the third round draw for the FA Cup last month.
And the draw threw up some tantalising fixtures for football betting fans seeking to make a decent profit on the games.
So let’s take a look at the big matches in the FA Cup and the ones you should maybe avoid if you’re seeking a big win.
West Ham v Manchester City
West Ham kick things off against Manchester City on Friday night and the Hammers will be hoping for an FA Cup classic at their new stadium. West Ham boast a W2 D1 L1 record against City in the FA Cup and have won two of their last five league meetings with the Etihad Stadium club.
West Ham are 5.75 to beat City on what could be a special night. Manager Slaven Bilic needs a confidence-boosting win here, while City have the Premier League title to play for and may field a weakened side.
Expect goals. Four of the last five games between West Ham and City have witnessed both sides scoring. That could well happen again at 1.65.
Manchester United v Reading
This could be one of your bankers if you’re making an FA Cup combination bet this weekend. Manchester United are in great form, having won their last seven games. Reading, meanwhile, are scoring for fun and boast three wins on the trot.
Can Reading pull out an upset here? The betting odds say no. United are 1.23 to win at home and manager Jose Mourinho would love to successfully defend United’s FA Cup crown in his first season in charge.
Ipswich v Lincoln
There is something good happening at Lincoln right now, as shrewd football betting fans will testify. Lincoln are soaring at the top of the Conference and are a good bet to secure promotion to League Two this season. Meanwhile, Ipswich have their own problems. They have not won two games on the bounce all season and have conceded in each of their last seven games.
Can Lincoln pull off a major upset? At 6.25 they are maybe worth a punt but those odds are fairly slim, considering Ipswich could wipe the floor with the Imps if they have a good day. It’s maybe worth Lincoln to score, however, at 1.66.
Huddersfield v Port Vale
This is certainly a low-key game but could be great for any potential FA Cup combination bet. Huddersfield are playing some of the best football in the Championship and look good for a playoff place come the end of the season. Port Vale, meanwhile, are languishing in mid-table in League One and manager Bruno Ribeiro recently resigned from his post.
Huddersfield are worth adding to a combination at 1.40 to win.
Preston v Arsenal
This has all the makings of an upset. Every few years Arsenal crash out of a cup competition on a cold evening outside London. Last season it was at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday and a few years previous it was Bradford. Oh, and don’t forget Sunderland.
Preston, 11th in the Championship, are fighting above their weight in the league. And one defeat in six will give them confidence heading into this clash with the Gunners. This could be a tight affair and don’t expect Arsenal to have a full-strength team out. Fewer than 1.5 goals to be scored is priced at 5.00, with Preston 25.00 to win 1-0.
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Aston Villa are another team that can’t really afford to have cup aspirations this season, what with their league position. Tottenham, however, could do with a boost after their poor outing in the Champions League earlier this season. Spurs midfielder Dele Alli and striker Harry Kane are scoring for fun right now. It will be interesting to see if either of them play in this game.
Meanwhile, Villa forward Rudy Gestede will likely not feature as he closes in on a transfer to Middlesbrough. Even if Kane and Alli don’t play we can expect Spurs to win this game at 1.30.
Cambridge v Leeds United
This is another clash that could be a huge upset. Leeds have upset the odds in the FA Cup before, famously beating Manchester United at Old Trafford back in 2010. However, they have also been on the receiving end of FA Cup humiliation, most notably against Sunderland in the 1973 final. More recently they lost to non-league Histon in 2008.
Cambridge are 3.50 to pull off an upset, which aren’t great odds. However, Leeds at 2.15 to beat the League Two side is surely worth a punt. Leeds are in great form at the moment and are planning to buy more players in January. This could easily be another win for manager Garry Monk.