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Free betting tips: Outright preview for the 2018/19 FA Cup

Our best bets for the 2018/19 FA Cup
Our best bets for the 2018/19 FA Cup

The FA Cup third round gets underway on Friday night with every team dreaming of lifting the famous trophy at Wembley. Tom Carnduff picks out four bets.


Recommended bets

1pt e.w. Leicester City to win the FA Cup at 25/1

1pt Crystal Palace to reach the semi-finals at 7/1

1pt Sheffield United to reach the semi-finals at 14/1

1pt Hull City to reach the semi-finals at 50/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


The FA Cup third round is just around the corner and it sees the introduction of our likely winner with Premier League and Sky Bet Championship teams joining the action.

This competition has been dominated by Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in recent seasons - although Wigan's success in 2013 was a reminder that the 'Magic of the Cup' is alive and kicking.

While the FA Cup is often won by those floating around the top-four, history has shown us that other top-flight clubs can earn a spot on the main stage.


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Crystal Palace, Hull, Aston Villa, Stoke, Portsmouth and of course Wigan have been finalists in the past nine seasons and there's value in trying to unearth the next in line, especially with the top flight so heavily involved in European competitions.

We'll start off with an outright winner, and the 25/1 general price on Leicester going all the way is definitely worth a small bet.

Despite the pressure firmly being applied on Claude Puel, whose leadership was under scrutiny throughout the first-half of the season, the Foxes sit seventh in the Premier League.

Marc Albrighton celebrates his goal for Leicester against Man City
Marc Albrighton celebrates his goal for Leicester against Man City

The gap of seven points to Manchester United highlights that the top-six is likely to be out of their reach, presenting the FA Cup as a competition that they can put a lot of focus into.

Penalties denied them a spot in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, drawing with Manchester City at the King Power before going onto beat them in the league weeks later, and a trophy will do a lot for Puel's case to remain in command.

Leicester also made the last-eight of this competition last season, with a shock round five defeat to Millwall ending their campaign the season before.

Puel is a manager who appears to focus on cup competitions. He guided Leicester to that quarter-final, alongside an appearance in the EFL Cup final as Southampton manager in 2017, and with his position under threat right now every game counts.

The third round has given them an away tie at League Two outfit Newport, who are currently enduring a torrid run of form with five defeats in their last eight.

The ingredients are there for the Foxes to go all the way and surprise the top-four by lifting the trophy this season. The fact that they've beaten Chelsea and Man City of late tells you it's not all about getting a good draw and they look the each-way play, with profit guaranteed if they make the final.

Claude Puel (left) watches his Southampton side in action in the EFL Cup final
Claude Puel (left) watches his Southampton side in action in the EFL Cup final

Elsewhere, Sky Bet offer a market on teams reaching the semi-finals - and there are three who are worth investigating here at good prices.

The first of them is Crystal Palace, who came close to winning their first FA Cup back in 2016, only to be denied by late goals from Manchester United.

It's 7/1 that they reach the final four, and given their performances and results over Christmas, they may have the momentum that pushes them through the early stages of the competition.

The third round sees them welcome League Two side Grimsby to Selhurst Park and that should mean they're safely through to round four.

The fact that 15 third-round games see EFL teams playing each other or non-league outfits means that the probability of Palace facing a side lower than them in the football hierarchy is increased in future rounds.

You'd have to fancy Palace to remain in the Premier League this season with some of the players they have at their disposal, alongside the six-point cushion between themselves and Southampton in the final relegation spot.

Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring for Crystal Palace at Manchester City
Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring for Crystal Palace at Manchester City

Their very public pursuit of a striker in the January transfer window should give them further depth up front and more choices at Roy Hodgson's disposal for this competition.

When you analyse their starting XI from their last Carabao Cup contest against Middlesbrough, it further underlines that they can be expected to put out a strong side. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Andros Townsend, Max Meyer and Jeffrey Schlupp all started in that one - four players who are heavily involved in Palace's Premier League preferred XI - and we should expected a similarly serious approach to this competition.

Sky Bet also make it 18/1 on the double chance that Leicester or Crystal Palace lift the trophy at Wembley in May and with both expected to safely progress to the fourth round, that's an option for those who'd rather have two runners in the outright market.

Will Grigg scores Wigan's famous winner against Manchester City
Will Grigg scores Wigan's famous winner against Manchester City

It's not just Premier League clubs who have enjoyed success in this competition, so too have representatives from the Sky Bet EFL with a number of teams getting within touching distance of glory.

Wigan's shock win over City, a repeat performance and result from the 2013 final, put them in the quarter-finals last season, while Middlesbrough, Lincoln and Millwall reached the same stage in 2017.

Prior to that, it was Reading’s turn to appear in the quarter-finals in 2016, a year after reaching the semi-finals.

The value is certainly there in putting your faith in some strong EFL clubs, and Sheffield United are ones to watch in this instance.

The Blades have enjoyed good runs in this competitions in recent seasons - reaching the semi-finals as a League One outfit under Nigel Clough's guidance as recently as 2013.

Sheffield United celebrate after scoring in the FA Cup semi-final in 2014
Sheffield United celebrate after scoring in the FA Cup semi-final in 2014

They are a side with promotion aspirations this season, but Chris Wilder isn't a man who will simply write off the FA Cup as an inconvenience - especially if they come up against high-class opposition.

United fielded a strong side when they were beaten narrowly away at Leicester last season - that's despite still being in the mix for a play-off spot right up until the final weeks of the campaign.

Winning helps to both create and maintain momentum, which is vital to any side who are looking for promotion to England's top-flight. History has shown us that defeat in the FA Cup can potentially derail a club's promotion aspirations, especially in the Championship, an example being Leeds' defeat to Sutton in 2017.

The third round sees them welcoming National League outfit Barnet to Bramall Lane, and even with a changed line-up they will have enough to get through in front of their own supporters.

Jarrod Bowen scores for Hull against QPR
Jarrod Bowen scores for Hull against QPR

The other team to consider is the one that beat Sheffield United at Wembley, as Hull have been in wonderful form throughout December. They kicked off their 2019 with a 6-0 demolition of Bolton and can conjure a surprise FA Cup run.

Having started the final month of 2018 battling to beat the Championship drop, a winning sequence has seen them go into the new year level on points with the top-half.

Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki are the subject of transfer talk as a result, although Nigel Adkins has stated that the talented duo are not for sale this month.

Given that form is likely to have secured their safety this season, the Tigers can put a bit more focus into the FA Cup competition. They travel to Millwall at the first hurdle and recent results should get them over the line despite being outsiders with the bookmakers.

We've already discussed the number of EFL clubs who will feature in the competition, and with a favourable home tie in round four, Adkins' men have every chance of continuing to progress.

The past couple of Championship seasons have seen a resurgent team fly up the table thanks to a number of positive results in the second half of the season. Fulham did it in 2017 and 2018, while Millwall also went from relegation candidates to narrowly missing out on the play-offs last term.

Hull have the potential to be that side this time around, and if results continue to go their way, they could utilise that positive momentum when facing teams in the FA Cup. At 50/1, they're a bet to reach Wembley.


Odds correct at 1150 GMT (03/01/18)

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Most Read Football

Saturday's best bets1

Saturday's bets of the day

Our team unveil their fancies for Saturday's sport, including Matt Brocklebank's best bet at Ascot and a speculative 66/1 chance from the world of golf.

Check out this weekend's Sporting Life Accumulator
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Sporting Life Accumulator

Our Sporting Life Accumulator for Saturday's football involves four EFL teams, enhanced to 20/1 with Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package
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Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

The latest done deals and transfer rumours with Sporting Life
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Check out this weekend's Sporting Life Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

Our Sporting Life Accumulator for Saturday's football involves four EFL teams, enhanced to 20/1 with Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

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