Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
January can mean only one thing in the footballing world: The FA Cup Third Round.
It all kicks off on Friday as Manchester City pay a visit to Swindon Town in their customary lower-league draw and there’s another 30 fixtures to peruse at your leisure between then and Monday evening, including defending champions Leicester facing off against fellow Premier League outfit Watford at Saturday.
To mark the occasion, we’ve delved into all the fixtures, trends and stats to bring you our best pick for the 2022 FA Cup winners, plus we’ve added in a dark horse to keep an eye on and a cheeky bet on Premier League sides to reach the Fourth Round, too.
Remember, you can find in-depth previews for the games on our FA Cup predictions page.
FA Cup winners prediction
Arsenal at 12/1
Arsenal are priced up as joint-fifth favourites for the FA Cup at 12/1 but there’s plenty of reason to believe they have a better chance at cup success than the teams ahead of them in the pecking order.
Favourites Manchester City (10/3), Chelsea (6/1), Liverpool (7/1) and Man Utd (7/1) will all prioritise the Champions League over the FA Cup and even defending champions Leicester (14/1) have Europa Conference League commitments in February.
Not only that, but Arsenal ended 2021 with a five-match winning streak and were unfortunate to lose to Manchester City last time out. Mikel Arteta has transformed this side after a disastrous start to the season left him on the brink of getting the sack and they look primed for some form of success over the next five months.
North London rivals Tottenham are a fair shout at 12/1, too, but Arsenal simply look a better side than Spurs right now and they have a trophy-laden history in the FA Cup.
They have won the trophy a record 14 times in their history and even in the difficult recent years they have lifted the cup an impressive number of times, taking the win in four of the last eight years.
The Gunners record in FA Cup Finals is excellent as well, with 14 of their 21 trips to Wembley – and occasionally the Millennium Stadium – ending in triumph and each of their last seven FA Cup Finals resulting in them taking the trophy.
Arsenal have the form, the quality and the FA Cup pedigree to go all the way this year.
FA Cup dark horse predictions
Wolves at 33/1
There was more than a hint of doubt surrounding the appointment of the relatively unknown Bruno Lage at Molineux over the summer and that uncertainty only increased as Wolves lost their opening three league games without scoring, but that feels an awfully long time ago now.
Lage has turned out to be more than capable in charge of Wolves and a 1-0 win at Old Trafford to start 2022 made it just three defeats in their last 14 matches.
They have conceded just 16 goals in all competitions under Lage and only twice in their last eight games. Being rock-solid at the back is almost always the foundation for a successful cup run and they look an excellent price to upset the pecking order, especially considering they have shown the ability to give the Premier League giants a good run for their money this season.
Bournemouth at 150/1
If you’re looking for a huge price and the chance to cheer on an underdog, Bournemouth look your best chance.
The Cherries will understandably be prioritising promotion from the Championship but they have a four point cushion in the promotion spots and a favourable Third Round clash at Yeovil.
There is every chance their advantage could increase by the time the Fourth Round comes around, allowing them to focus some attention on the FA Cup and try to better their quarter final run from last season.
With just five defeats in 27 competitive games this season, Bournemouth look the most solid pick from the outsiders.
How many Premier League teams will reach the FA Cup Fourth Round?
The so-called magic of the cup is one of the major attractions in the FA Cup Third Round as lower-league sides are pitted against the giants of the Premier League looking for an unexpected giant slaying, but how many of the top-flight big boys will avoid the embarrassment?
With some Premier League sides pitted against one another, the maximum amount of teams that can make it through unscathed is 17 and backing that to happen comes in at a tasty 25/1.
Manchester City, Brentford, Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Norwich and Arsenal all have easy enough fixtures. Add that to the all-Premier League ties and I’m confident at least 11 of them will be in the draw for the Fourth Round.
What about the others, though? I personally think a few could fall victim to the cup magic. Crystal Palace face a difficult trip to the Lions’ Den, where Millwall are unbeaten in five games and face an Eagles side that have lost three on the bounce away from home.
Brighton also face an away day as they visit promotion contenders West Brom, while Southampton and Everton both travel to Championship sides in the bottom-half of the table on Saturday. On Sunday I’m confident Wolves will end Sheffield United’s five-match unbeaten run.
All being told, I’m going out on a limb and saying 15 Premier League teams will reach the next round, with Crystal Palace and Everton being the most likely to fall at the first hurdle.
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