magic of the cup

Lack of new year fixture congestion to help Van Gaal's men towards FA Cup glory at 6/1

THREE of the top four teams in the betting for this year's FA Cup have all got what look to be straightforward obstacles to overcome in this weekend's third round with favourites Chelsea 1/7 to beat Watford at home, Manchester City are 2/13 to dump Sheffield Wednesday out of the competition and Manchester United are 1/5 on their travels to Yeovil.

In a repeat of last year's final though it is Arsenal who have the trickiest opening tie for those prominent in the outright betting as they host Hull on Sunday evening and despite the home side being warm favourites in the all-Premiership encounter, this could be one of the ties that sees a surprise.

Hull are 17/2 to win and 11/2 in the 'draw no bet' market and could prove to be a bit of value at that.

The outright betting for the FA Cup is never straightforward unless you have a magic wand and can predict the draw for the upcoming rounds, but with Manchester United not having the distraction of European football in the new year and murmurs of defenders being signed in this transfer window you could certainly do worse than have a little wager on the Old Trafford outfit to return to FA Cup winning glory for the first time since 2004.

Southampton have been one of the surprise packages of the Premier League this season, but they may be in for an unpleasant surprise of their own when hosting Championship side Ipswich on Sunday.

Looking down through the list of games and looking for a potential upsets, the second tier high flyers just appear to be overpriced for the tie at 7/1 and it wouldn't be beyond Mick McCarthy to orchestrate a major scalp here as they themselves continue to strive towards returning to the Premier League for next season.

Giant-killer is a term that will always be associated with the FA Cup and it'll never go away from Northern Premier Division side Blyth Spartans if they can somehow conjure up a win at home to Birmingham tomorrow afternoon but in truth 2/7 is probably quite generous about the away side.

fa cup - outright betting: Chelsea 5/1, Man City 5/1, Man United 6/1, Arsenal 9/1, Liverpool 9/1, Tottenham 16/1, Everton 16/1, Southampton 20/1, Swansea 33/1, Newcastle 40/1, Stoke 40/1, Sunderland 40/1, West Ham 40/1, Aston Villa 50/1, West Brom 50/1, Crystal Palace 50/1, Leicester 80/1, Hull 80/1, Fulham 80/1, QPR 80/1, Norwich 80/1, Derby 80/1, 100/1 Bar