This season’s English F.A. Cup is likely to be the most open in years. All the top sides – both Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham – all harbor genuine hopes of wrestling the F.A. Cup from Manchester United’s grasp. But only one of them can be successful so let’s take a look at the teams that are in the running.
Defending champions Manchester United are second-favorites at +600 to lift the trophy once again, but with Jose Mourinho leading his troops in four grueling competitions (Premier League, F.A. Cup, League Cup and Europa League), we recommend steering clear of backing the Red Devils in the F.A. Cup.
We also think that favorites Manchester City, at the slightly shorter price of +550, should also be avoided. Pep Guardiola has demonstrated his ability at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich to field weakened sides in what he perceives as secondary cmpetitions.
City are United’s likeliest challengers for the league title and are also involved in the Champions League, a competition Guardiola covets above all others. The F.A. Cup definitely isn’t his main concern.
We think Chelsea (+600) have the best chance of winning the F.A. Cup. The way they set up their side is reminiscent of 2007. A decade on and Antonio Conte will lift the cup with Diego Costa playing the same vital role that Didier Drogba a decade ago. This is a bet we think you should make as soon as humanly possible.
It is crucial, when predicting potential contenders, to think of their respective motivations at the business end of the season. Which teams will rest players due to other priorities and which ones will do everything in their power to capture F.A. Cup glory?
Crystal Palace, Watford and Everton, along with eventual winners Manchester United, were the last four teams standing in the 2015-16 campaign, all of whom finished out of the Premier League’s top four positions. It’s a quite telling fact. But that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen this year.
Liverpool will make a strong push for the cup. Jurgen Klopp is getting close to having a team to call his own. He’s a brilliant manager and it will take time to right the ship in Liverpool. Remember Sir Alex Ferguson when he took the reins at Manchester United? It took him winning the F.A. Cup to cement his position, and we think Klopp might get very close to doing the same in 2017.
The German’s abysmal record in cup finals – no wins and five losses – has to eventually come to an end. If Chelsea doesn’t win the 2016-17 F.A Cup, we recommend backing Liverpool at a tasty +900.
Stoke City (+3300) and Everton (+2000), both of whom have enough strength in depth to challenge, are good outsiders to back. Though we don’t think Stoke will make it as far as Everton.