The third round of the FA Cup means there are no fewer than 25 fixtures on Saturday in England’s oldest cup competition. As ever, the draw has thrown up some great fixtures, a number of mismatches and plenty of potential upsets. The task for us bettors is to pick out the best value bets and avoid the banana skins!
We have some solid bets lined up for Saturday afternoon but we’re starting with what could be a slight shock in West London. Fulham host Southampton and the fortunes of both sides are moving very much in opposite directions. The Cottagers are making up for lost time in the Championship – a run of six wins in nine games helping them up the table and repairing the damage of a poor first half to the season. Southampton by contrast, have won just four matches all season and were knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the first attempt by Championship side Wolves.
In other bets that catch the eye, Aston Villa and Millwall look solid propositions at home to Peterborough and Barnsley respectively, while Huddersfield’s excellent season could continue as they make the short trip to Bolton.
Fulham v Southampton
Fulham are 19/102.90+1901.901.90-0.53 with BetVictor to pull off a ‘giant-killing’, although that may not be the most appropriate term for this match.
Only 14 league places separate the two sides, with Fulham in 10th in the Championship and Southampton 17th in the Premier League. the Christmas rush may prompt both managers to rest various players – with promotion and relegation their respective priorities – but Fulham are strong at home and are decent value to progress to the next round. They’ve won four in a row at home against Ipswich, Barnsley, Birmingham and Millwall.
Southampton gave up a lead to lose 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace during midweek, meaning they gathered just two points from four Christmas fixtures. They are only above the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Stoke and could be in real danger of dropping down a division. The FA Cup pales in comparison to survival and one suspects that the Saints’ management won’t be too disappointed to exit at this stage.
Aston Villa v Peterborough
Villa are a solid home bet against Peterborough at odds of 3/41.75-1330.75-1.330.75 with BetVictor.
The Villains are another side with Premier League promotion on the mind but like Fulham, they have been playing catch-up after a poor start. Steve Bruce’s men have navigated their way up to 5th now though, and a 5-0 thrashing of promotion rivals Bristol City on New Year’s day puts them within touching distance of the top two. They’ve won six of the last nine on home soil and should be too good for Peterborough – even if Bruce opts to rest players.
Posh are struggling back in 8th in League One as they attempt a return to the Championship, so they too may elect to rest players for a promotion charge. They won four games in a row in late December prior to a 1-0 defeat at MK Dons and the New Year’s day draw with Doncaster. Overall they have a solid 4-5-4 away record in League One but this is a step up in class.
Millwall v Barnsley
Millwall’s strength at home can play to their advantage when they host Barnsley, with the home win quoted at odds of 9/101.90-1110.90-1.110.90 with ComeOn.
The Lions are four places and four points above their rivals in the bottom half of the Championship but there’s a much bigger disparency in the context of home and away form. Millwall have a 7-3-3 record at the Den in this year’s second-tier, a record which is 6th best in the division.
Barnsley’s away record reads 3-4-6 from 13 road games – a return which puts them 17th in the Championship ‘away’ table. The Tykes have lost three of the last five away matches, although they did grab a 1-0 win at Sunderland on their last road trip. However, Millwall have won three of their last five at home, while taking draws against Wolves and Hull in the other two.
Bolton v Huddersfield
Finally, Huddersfield could be a good bet to progress to the fourth round with a win at Bolton at odds of 5/42.25+1251.251.25-0.80 with 888Sport.
The Trotters have been in very good form lately in the Championship, back-to-back 1-0 wins against Sheffield United and Hull over New Year’s helping them to climb to 20th and out of the relegation zone. How much importance they will place on this game compared to league survival remains to be seen.
Huddersfield are 11th in the Premier League but in a very congested table, are only four points above the bottom three. They cannot afford to rest on their top-flight laurels but are probably doing well enough to be able to take this game more seriously than they might if they were in the thick of the relegation battle. David Wagner’s side certainly have the quality to beat a battling Championship outfit – especially one which may not want the distraction of a cup run.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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