FA Cup Fourth Round Notebook: Manchester United crash out as Chelsea and West Ham survive a scare

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February 7th, 2022

The FA Cup this year just keeps on delivering in terms of excitement — although, it is certainly burning the fingers of bettors.

After Arsenal were shocked by Nottingham Forest in round three, this weekend saw Manchester United and FA Cup holders Leicester knocked out of the competition in thrilling style.

Here are all the key takeaways from another top weekend of action.

Doomsday for bettors

The fourth round of the FA Cup could not have gotten off to a worse start for punters. On Friday, Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty, and the Red Devils threw away a one-goal lead at home to Championship side Middlesbrough to draw the game 1-1, despite being -315 pre-match favorite.

Boro went on to win on penalties, and United got knocked out by lower-league opposition for the first time in 12 years.

In the first games on Saturday’s slate, both Chelsea and West Ham needed extra time to progress. West Ham were -375 to beat non-league Kidderminster Harriers but needed a last-minute goal from Declan Rice to send the game to extra time, before Jarrod Bowen got the winner for the Hammers.

Chelsea were -2000 to beat League One Plymouth, but the Pilgrims held on for a 1-1 draw in normal time, before Marcos Alonso got Chelsea’s winner.

Manchester City, Tottenham, and Liverpool got favorite bettors back on track, but by that point the damage was done and plenty of parlays were up in smoke.

It got even worse on Sunday, as Leicester were hammered 4-1 by Championship side Nottingham Forest, and non-league Boreham Wood won away to Premier League side Bournemouth.

Luck of the draw

The fourth round claimed victim to several top-flight teams, but the well-fancied Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham all survived, and somehow all got favorable draws in round five.

Manchester City travel away to Peterborough, who are in a Championship relegation fight, while Tottenham also hit the road to face Middlesbrough. Chelsea travel to lower league Luton Town, while Liverpool have a home tie with Norwich City, who are fighting Premier League relegation.

Everton also got handed a favorable draw, as they take on non-league Boreham Wood at Goodison Park.

It means we are heavy favorites to get to the quarter-final stage with Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Everton all still standing.

Forest keep on flying

Nottingham Forest also got a favorable draw, at home to Huddersfield Town, who are only three places above them in the Championship. Forest will fear nobody, however, after becoming one of the biggest success stories of the Cup so far.

In the third round, they shocked Arsenal at home, with Lewis Grabban bagging the winner seven minutes from time. They topped that in the fourth round by thrashing Leicester 4-1 at the City Ground, scoring three goals in nine first-half minutes to emphatically kill the game.

Steve Cooper’s side are full of confidence and are a good bet to make the quarter finals.

Stuart Armstrong’s stunning strike

Southampton are quietly making a nice FA Cup bid, despite a disappointing league season that sees them sit 12th in the Premier League. They’ve had to come back from behind in both Cup games so far but have beaten Swansea and Coventry, with the equalizer against Coventry over the weekend arguably being the goal of the year.

Stuart Armstrong picked the ball up on the right-hand side and struck an unbelievable effort with the outside of his boot, which began outside of the far post before whipping back towards goal and flying past a helpless Coventry keeper.

You’ll struggle to find a better cup goal this season, and it helped put Saints into the fifth round, where they have drawn an all-Premier League game at home to West Ham.

Are Chelsea the best outright bet?

With all the big guns still standing, the betting for the FA Cup currently has Manchester City (+200) and Liverpool (+400) at the top of the market, closely followed by Chelsea (+550) and Tottenham (+700).

FA Cup Outright Betting

Manchester City
West Ham
Crystal Palace

Manchester City look worthy favorites given their depth of squad and the way they’re running away with the league, but given the return of the Champions League this month, is there value elsewhere?

It’s a big ask for City to compete on all fronts, and we know European success is a priority for them, while Jurgen Klopp’s FA Cup record makes it hard to fancy Liverpool while they remain in European action.

Chelsea made the FA Cup final and Champions League final last year, so their knock-out credentials make them tempting, while Tottenham now have FA Cup winning coach Antonio Conte managing them as they look for their first trophy since 2008.

At +550, Chelsea are probably the smartest play at this stage, while I wouldn’t put anyone off the +2500 on Southampton, if they’re looking for a longshot with a live chance.