It’s time for the third round of the FA Cup.
The neutrals love this stage of the competition, as it provides the most opportunities for giant-killing. The punters love it too, as it provides the most opportunities to make money.
There will be 32 fixtures in the FA Cup this weekend—but as a sensible punter, I won't wager on all of them.
Remember, the key here is to make good picks.
The secret to my investment strategy? I start by grouping all 20 Premier League teams into one of three categories...
Group 1: The Big Boys
This group will include the traditional Big Four—i.e. Liverpool and not Manchester City, as the table currently suggests.
These teams have dominated the competition over the last decade, and are expected to continue the trend. Given the gap between them and the rest of the league, they should navigate through the third round with relative ease.
The big boys are expected to rest several players here, but their depth will show. They're also expected to play to kill the tie off to avoid a replay, as it would only further burden their already hectic schedules.
Group 2: The Wannabes
This group consists of teams which traditionally vie for the UEFA Cup slots in the table. Having enjoyed considerable success in the league, they're desperate to add to their silverware in the FA Cup, and are likely to field very strong teams in the competition.
There are seven teams EPL teams in this group—Tottenham Hotspurs, Newcastle United, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Aston Villa, and Portsmouth.
Group 3: The Others
This is the group of nine teams not listed above. These teams value survival in the Premier League more than the FA Cup, and may be tempted to rest key players in their Cup fixtures.
They don't see themselves as having a realistic opportunity to win the FA Cup, and thus may view Cup progress as a burden rather than a blessing.
The idea in grouping the teams, of course is to get a feel for how they'll do in the third round.
With that on record, here are my specific picks...
Accumulator on Everton, Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal to win.
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers: Bristol Rovers at 8 and draw at 18/5
Huddersfield at 4 (vs Birmingham)
Bristol City at 39/19 (vs Middlesbrough)
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