The wide open market of 2013/14 FA Cup betting is on again, with the usual suspects heading up the field. Naturally for some punters, this will be a lot harder to predict than the winner of the Premier League, despite the same teams being at the front of the competition. That comes for the unpredictability of the draw itself, where big guns can eliminate others. But on the flip side of that there, it is a far more profitable outright winner market than the Premier League outright, if you can make that winning selection. So where to lean towards for 2013/14 FA Cup betting?
The starting point is not going to take punters too far beyond the big six in English football. That is Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham. They do realistically present the best chance of pulling out a win, but again the value is there to see for all, with Tottenham as far out as 12/1, with last season’s losing finalists Man City trading around 6/1 before a single ball gets kicked in anger.
Chelsea are the favourites in FA Cup 2013/14 FA Cup betting and that is because they have proven themselves to be a fantastic cup side. The Blues have won four of the last seven FA Cups, and went all the way to the semi finals last term. They will have Jose Mourinho back at the helm for their next assault on the famous old trophy, the Special One winning it for the club back in 2007. With recent successes on top in the Champions League and the Europa League, there is a great aura about the Blues when it comes to cup football and that will keep them at the front as many people’s favourites.
Behind them, there will naturally be challenges expected to come from Man City and Man United. The Citizens have reached two of the last three finals, winning one and then being upset at Wembley in 2013 by underdogs Wigan. But perhaps they are just starting to piece together a strong FA Cup ethic and form, which will make them contenders again. United will be taking on a new identity this term under boss David Moyes, who took former club Everton to the 2009 final, where they lost to Chelsea. The last time that Manchester United got their hands on the FA Cup was in 2004, losing in their two other appearances following that. It has been a long wait for the Red Devils to taste FA glory again.
With Arsenal not winning since 2005, Liverpool not since 2006 and Tottenham’s last win coming all the way back in 1991, they all have a drought to break as well. But still, given their status in the English game, will take some backing at value. But just occasionally the big guns don’t get things all their own way. In the last eighteen editions of the FA Cup, either Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool or Man United have won on sixteen of those occasions. The two exceptions were Portsmouth back in 2008 and Wigan, who were relegated from the Premier League the same season, in 2013.
After winning the Scottish Premier League title, Glasgow Celtic will be looking to complete the domestic double as they take on Hibernian in the final of the 2013 Scottish FA Cup. The big match kicks off on May 26th 2013 at Hampden Park and it will be the Bhoys who will be going as firm favourites. They have won the Scottish Cup 35 times before in their illustrious history, the most by any Scottish club. The last time they got their hands on the Scottish FA Cup was back in 2011 as Hearts went all the way in the tournament last season. In a repeat of last season’s final, the defending champions went up against their Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in the fourth round, and it was Hibs who gained some revenge, the win helping to propel them along their way to the final.
The semi finals were dramatic affairs for both Celtic and Hibernian as both needed extra time to make it through to the final. Hibernian were up first against Falkirk and it was a late winner in the 115th minute, deep into extra time, scored by Leigh Griffiths (his second of the game) that was the crucial goal for Hibs. It was a pretty remarkable comeback as well for Hibs, who were three nil down in the match after just thirty minutes, and it wasn’t until seven minutes from the end of regulation time that they eventually got their equaliser. It was by the same scoreline, 4-3 after extra time, that took Celtic past the challenge of Dundee United. Celtic had traded blows with Dundee United through the match, unable to pull away and the game was eventually settled in the 103rd minute by Anthony Stokes for the Bhoys.
For Hibs, they are on the hunt for their first Scottish Cup title since 1902, so it has been a long wait for them to add to their tally of two. The Easter Road outfit may be able to take some confidence from the fact that they didn’t let Celtic get the better of them in their two Scottish Premier League meetings during the 2012/13 season. Hibs took a 2-2 draw at Celtic Park back at the start of September 2012, and in the reverse fixture, took a 1-0 win over the Champions elect. So Hibernian will be able to carry some confidence through with them, especially as Celtic have struggled somewhat through this season’s Scottish FA Cup.
Neil Lennon’s men needed a replay to get themselves past Arbroath in the Fourth Round of the competition, and were pushed hard by St Mirren in the quarter finals, and then by Dundee United in the semi’s as mentioned above. Still, at the end of the day it is hard to ignore the difference in standings between the two clubs in the Scottish Premier League season, with Celtic taking the title easily and Hibs struggling in the bottom half of the table. But will the underdogs be able to grab their chance in the spotlight on May 26th 2013?
Welsh club Swansea City have one big piece of silverware in their sights for the season, when they take on League Two side Bradford in the final of the League Cup in February 2013. The Swans knocked out Liverpool and Chelsea along the way to Wembley, for what is their first ever major final in English football. After impressing so many people on their first season in the English Premier League in 2011/12, with then manager Brendan Rodgers’ superb passing and movement style giving rise to the label of the Welsh Brazil, even when Rodgers departed for Liverpool, Swansea have still maintained their football ethic. As good as their 11th place finish in the 2011/12 Premier League table was, they could be in for bigger things if they continue their fine form to the end of the season.
The run to the final of the League Cup has justified the style that Swansea have. But even though they are known for their passing flair, there has been a grittier resilience about them in the top flight. It may have taken new manager Michael Laudrup a month or two to get to grips with things, but he has added the enhancement of defensive strength to the squad. After 26 matches played in the Premier League, Swansea could well be eyeing up a place in Europe. Victory in the final of the League Cup would guarantee a place in the 2013/14 Europa League anyway, but with the Swans firmly cementing their place as a top ten side in the top flight this season, a top six finish many not be out of the question. Although they are one of the outside shots in the market, it does mean that they are value.
With the big guns of Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal likely to occupy the top five spots, it leaves Swansea in a four-horse race with Everton, West Brom and Liverpool in an attempt to grab that sixth spot. Only the top five get in Europe of course, unless one of the top five also win domestic or European silverware. The form of Swansea over the season suggests that they could be there or thereabouts at the end of the season in the top six. It would be a massive step forward for them if that was achieved and bookies are split on their chances, ranging from 25/1 in to as short as 10/1. One of the stars for Swansea City this season has been Spanish striker Michu.
The bargain purchase has set the Premier League alight this season with his clinical finishing. While Michu would have the power of Man United’s Robin van persie and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez to battle against in the race to finish as Premier League top scorer, after twenty six matches played on the season, Michu was sitting third behind only the two aforementioned strikers. A hattrick in a match would put him well in the hunt and it would shake things up immensely in the market. Despite all his efforts this season, the Swansea man will still be a long shot over the remaining dozen games or so of the season, as he tries to break the dominance of Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez. But the success of Swansea this season has been on his shoulders all season and he has delivered.