FA Cup: third-round upsets to watch out for
Where will the shocks come?
Betting analysis for the FA Cup third round.
FA Cup third round
FA Cup third-round weekend is one of football’s landmark occasions and even in an unfamiliar season where an eerie silence will replace the usual vibrant atmosphere, the thrills and spills are sure to continue.
Last season Premier League Aston Villa, Brighton and Watford all fell to lower-league opposition at this stage, while Tottenham and Newcastle needed replays - that is no longer an option with all ties to be settled on the day with extra-time and penalties - to see off Middlesbrough and Rochdale respectively.
And there is the potential for plenty more giant-killings this season.
Tottenham travel to Merseyside, not to meet Liverpool or Everton, but to lock horns with Northern Premier League minnows Marine, who are only the second eighth-tier side to reach the third round.
It will be the biggest gap between two teams in FA Cup third-round history, eclipsing the previous record of a six-level difference when Newcastle avoided an embarrassing loss at Yeading in 2005 and Cardiff survived a scare at Chasetown just three years later.
Jose Mourinho’s Spurs are 1-50 to avoid the upsets of all upsets, but there are three potential banana skins where punters may profit.
Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United
Best prices: 15-4 Bristol Rovers, 8-11 Sheffield United, 3-1 draw
Sheffield United have failed to win any of their 18 competitive games this season and it would need a leap of faith to take odds-on quotes about them, even with their sights lowered at League One Bristol Rovers.
Premier League relegation looks increasingly likely for Sheffield United and Chris Wilder will be hoping to stop the rot and give his charges a much-needed lift at the Memorial Stadium.
However, goals have been the issue for the blunt Blades, who have scored just eight times in 17 league games and failed to score in six of their last nine.
There are 42 places between these sides in the footballing pyramid but current evidence wouldn't suggest that and Bristol Rovers, who have won five of their last seven games in all competitions, may fancy their chances.
Sheffield United were dumped out at this stage at home to National League Barnet in 2019 and they limped to a 2-1 win over another non-league outfit AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane 12 months ago.
Blackpool v West Brom 3pm Saturday
Best prices: 3-1 Blackpool, 19-20 West Brom, 14-5 draw.
The Sam Allardyce effect hasn't yet kicked into gear at West Brom, who head to third-tier Blackpool hoping to restore some confidence after suffering hefty home defeats to Leeds (5-0) and Arsenal (4-0).
The Baggies' only win from 17 Premier League matches this season came against fellow strugglers Sheffield United and they have scored just one goal in four outings since the hiring of Allardyce.
Although recent 1-1 draws with Manchester City and Liverpool read well, those points came courtesy of ultra-defensive tactics and they will be expected to play on the front foot against lesser opposition at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool have endured some tough results of late but they have won four of their last five at home, conceding only once, and toppling League One promotion hopefuls Portsmouth and Hull in the process.
Newport v Brighton 7.45pm Sunday
Best prices: 11-2 Newport, 4-9 Brighton, 4-1 draw
Newport have carved out a reputation as FA Cup giant-killers and they are no forlorn hope at home to Premier League strugglers Brighton.
Playing conditions at Rodney Parade are not to everyone’s liking and they won't suit Graham Potter’s slick Seagulls, who have played good football this season but without much conviction.
Brighton, for all the praise they have received, are 17th in the Premier League and have won only one of their last 16 games in all competitions.
Potter may rest key men in preparation for Wednesday’s league trip to the Etihad and that offers hope for Newport, who are second in League Two and have won seven of their nine home games this term.
Michael Flynn’s Exiles have recorded FA Cup home wins over Leeds, Leicester and Middlesbrough while also drawing with Spurs since 2018 and may be hopeful of silencing the Seagulls despite the gulf between them in the footballing pyramid.
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