Ahead of the third round getting under way, Tom Carnduff picks out two outright bets for the 2021/22 FA Cup.
3pts Manchester City to win the FA Cup at 7/2 (General)
1.5pts e.w. Arsenal to win the FA Cup at 14/1 (General 1/2 1,2)
This isn't an issue exclusive to the FA Cup this season, but the presence of Covid in football and the increasing concerns surrounding matches being played over the Christmas period will seriously affect how some view this competition.
We've always had a league/cup split where some view it as a chance for silverware while others consider it a distraction. With limited availability of players, we are likely to see more want to avoid the additional football the FA Cup brings.
While we love the romance of the cup (probably trademarked somewhere), this season's edition is likely to be won by whoever has the best squad among those who want to challenge.
Never has it felt like the third round will have as big of an impact as it will in 2022.
It's hardly a surprise to see that Manchester City are the favourites for the trophy considering they won it in 2018/19 and are currently playing at an incredible level.
The FA Cup is one that has avoided them for the most part though, with success elsewhere in Carabao Cup, which was dominated by Pep Guardiola's men until this season.
At a best price of 7/2, there is value in backing MANCHESTER CITY TO WIN THE FA CUP. They have quality in every single position and a fully changed XI would have enough to beat most Premier League sides.
Squad management is going to be crucial in the earlier stages of the competition and the third round taking place so early into January will impact selection - we should see more upsets than usual across third round weekend.
City - who travel to Sky Bet League Two side Swindon - will field a changed side that should have little issue in securing victory. Going for a short price such as this is always difficult in an outright preview but we could argue that it's actually too big.
We could say that for absolutely anything involving Manchester City at 7/2 - the Champions League, the domestic treble or the Super Bowl - but the circumstances surrounding this season's competition will give them the advantage because of that squad.
Start taking players out of other teams in the Premier League and glaring weaknesses start to the show. Now try and do that for City. There is always an option to come in and compete at a similarly high level.
Plus there is the fact they've finally been knocked out of the Carabao Cup after constantly winning it. That's one less trophy available to Guardiola who knows how achievable the domestic cups are for their cabinet.
City's trip to Cheltenham last season saw starts for Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres - that's the level of unrivalled depth we're talking about here.
Make no mistake about it, recent history shows just how much Arsenal love this competition. They won it in 2019/20, and four of the last eight editions of the FA Cup have finished with the trophy in North London.
There is no denying that Arsenal's own recent history has been poor with their league position firmly outside of the top-four we consistently witnessed under Arsene Wenger's guidance - but they are now a side on the up.
They're viewed almost as the Premier League's joke side. The 'banter era' (sorry) as described on Twitter seemingly in full flow and if you don't really follow their results you'd assume they were sitting in 10th.
However, Mikel Arteta has this side organised and playing. While questions about performances against the top sides remain, they will sit 4th in the Premier League table on Christmas day.
With a general price of 14/1 available, there is appeal in taking ARSENAL TO WIN THE FA CUP as an each-way bet.
They face Sky Bet Championship side Nottingham Forest in the third round - a potentially tricky away fixture - but Arsenal will place importance on this competition alongside progress in the league.
It's key given their lack of involvement in Europe this season.
The Gunners squad is also in a decent enough position for rotation in areas. There is the potential for further recruits in January to help with their top-four push.
Another trophy will be a sign of their long-term upward trajectory under Arteta's guidance. At the prices available, they represent good value in the FA Cup outright market.
Odds correct at 1045 GMT (20/12/21)
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