FA CUP. Betting Tips
Why is the FA Cup so special?
The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, is the oldest annual knockout competition in the world of football. The tournament was first held in the 1871/72 season, as has been held every year since (with the exception of WWI and WWII disruptions). The first ever FA Cup Final was held at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in London, where Wanderers FC (dissolved in 1887) claimed the first of their six FA Cup victories. The League and Cup double has long since been a major target for English teams, a feat which was first accomplished by Preston North End in 1888.
Since 1923 the FA Cup final has been held at Wembley Stadium in London, with the exception of a six year spell at the Millenium Stadium during renovations. Arsenal hold the record for the most FA Cup titles won by a club (13), closely followed by Manchester United (12), while current non-league side Kettering Town have scored more goals in the competition than any other side.
In addition to being the oldest club competition in football, the FA Cup is open to teams from the Premier League all the way down to Level 10 of the English Football League (EFL). The record entry was 763 clubs during the 2011/12 season, while the most rounds that a team would have to play before winning the trophy would be 14. 736 teams were involved in last season’s edition of the competition, a figure which is unlikely to change too drastically for the 139th edition of the tournament. Each of these sides will hope to become ‘giant-killers’ and beat one of the top-teams in English football - the possibility of surprise upsets is the hallmark of the FA Cup. In the past some of the biggest shocks that have occured include Hereford’s victory over Newcastle United, or the defeat of AFC Wimbledon to Burnley - so be sure to make the most of your bets on the competition.
FA Cup Format
The competition begins with the Extra Preliminary Round and this season saw games played on August 6 and 7. Clubs such as West Allotment Celtic, Glossop North End and Eccleshill United may be rather unfamiliar to you. Such is the magic of the FA Cup though that they could reach the FA Cup final at Wembley. Extremely unlikely of course but the chance is there.
The qualifying rounds continue through to October, where they end with the Fourth Qualifying Round. Non-League teams will contest the first phases of qualifying, until the National League sides (highest level of non-League football) enter the competition at the Fourth Qualifying Round to determine the sides that will make it to the First Round Proper.
It is during the First Round Proper that the League One and League Two sides enter the competition. After two rounds of play only 20 teams will remain, to be joined by the Premier League and Championship clubs in the Third Round Proper (be sure to also check out our Premier League score predictions). The FA Cup Third Round draw is one of the most anticipated events of the season, particularly if a non-League team has reached this stage.
This Third Round is always played during the first weekend of the New Year after which two more rounds are played until eight teams are left in the final phases of the competition in March. Due to worries over fixture congestion, there are no replays now. Games go into extra time if level after 90 minutes, then if still a stalemate it's time for a penalty shoot-out. The semi-finals are both played at Wembley and the final is scheduled to take place on May 14 with Leicester City hoping to be there again after winning the FA Cup in the 2020/21 season.
The winner of the cup will qualify for next season’s Europa Conference League (unless the team secures a European qualifying spot in the Premier League), and will go on to play the Premier League Champions in the Community Shield at Wembley, which is usually held in August before the start of the next football season.
Dates for Your Diary
First Round : Weekend of November 6
Second Round : Weekend of December 4
Third Round: Weekend of January 8
Fourth Round: Weekend of February 5
Fifth Round (Last 16): Wednesday March 2
Sixth Round (Last eight): Weekend of March 19
Semi-Finals: April 16/17
Final: May 14
2021/22 FA Cup predictions
Although clubs tend to play weakened line-ups, the FA Cup is regularly won by the top teams in the Premier League. The last major shock was when Wigan Athletic beat Manchester City to win the 2012/13 FA Cup final but a few days later were relegated from the Premier League.
Leicester City beat Chelsea 1-0 in the 2020/21 final, the first time they have lifted the trophy. Winning the FA Cup two years in a row isn't an easy feat. Arsenal are the last side to do so with wins in with wins in 2014 and 2015. Newcastle are the last team not based in London to win the cup in two successive seasons and that was in 1951 and 1952. Could Leicester repeat that feat 70 years on? The last five winners of the competition were:
- 2021: Leicester City
- 2020 - Arsenal
- 2019 - Manchester City
- 2018 - Chelsea
- 2017 - Arsenal
Historically, upsets were a lot more common in the FA Cup, with the likes of then Division Two clubs Sunderland and Southampton winning the competition in 1973 and 1976 respectively. Nowadays, such surprises have become much less common, and for this reason the tournament is largely falling out of favour with the English public. Still, the draw can be decisive in this competition - top teams can be drawn against each other and shocks can happen. It’s not often the final is contested by two teams outside of the top six, but stranger things have happened in the FA Cup.