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FA Cup 3rd round: hunting for shocks...

Friday 8th January 2021

In Across the Leagues EXTRA today:

  • FA Cup 3rd round…
  • Potential banana skins…
  • Relegation candidates on the road… 

FA Cup 3rd round: hunting for shocks…

With the FA Cup taking centre stage this week, there are no Premier League Predictions to be made this week.

Instead, I’m sharing with you an excerpt from the analysis provided to members of our full Across the Leagues service…

A season like no other…

FA Cup 3rd round weekend is traditionally one of the highlights on the calendar…

Things are a lot different this year, though.

In a season like no other, the FA Cup 2020/21 perhaps demonstrates the changes and difficulties caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, more than any other competition.

No fans, and no replays. Some teams set to field an entire team of youth players (Aston Villa, Derby County). Others unable to be able to fulfil their 3rd round fixture this weekend at all (Shrewsbury).

It’s an ever-changing situation. Several of the 32 FA Cup 3rd round ties could fall by the wayside between now and the end of the weekend. And there’s always the possibility of postponements due to bad weather, too.

As it stands, it’s looking like clubs not able to field a team this weekend won’t have to automatically forfeit their place in the competition. In the case of Shrewsbury, that means their match at Southampton could be rearranged.

Matters become even more intriguing/ complicated with the news that next Monday evening’s 4th round draw will be a ‘double draw.’ With the ties pulled out the hat for the both the 4th and 5th rounds. Which is another change for the competition.

3rd round shock-hunter…

The FA Cup 3rd round is made up of 32 matches. This year 14 of those ties feature a Premier League club taking on lower-league opposition (see below).

I’ve gone through the historical stats to look at the strike-rate of results over the past five seasons.

The findings tell us that on average there have been five ‘shocks’ per year in the 3rd round – with a shock defined here as a Premier League side failing to win against a team from a lower division.

Here are the numbers:

15 Home Wins (47%)
8 Draws (25%)
9 Away Wins (28%)

Shocks: Crystal Palace 0 Derby County 1, Brighton 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1, Fulham 2 Aston Villa 1, Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1, Middlesbrough 1 Tottenham 1, Watford 3 Tranmere Rovers 3

18 Home Wins (56%)
4 Draws (13%)
10 Away Wins (31%)

Shocks: Fulham 1 Oldham 2, Newport County 2 Leicester 1, Bristol City 1 Huddersfield 0, Derby County 2 Southampton 2, Gillingham 1 Cardiff 0, Newcastle 1 Blackburn 1

14 Home Wins (44%)
8 Draws (25%)
10 Away Wins (31%)

Shocks: Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2, Coventry 2 Stoke 1, Fleetwood 0 Leicester 0, Norwich 0 Chelsea 0, Bournemouth 2 Wigan 2

13 Home Wins (41%)
9 Draws (28%)
10 Away Wins (31%)

Shocks: Millwall 3 Bournemouth 0, Stoke 0 Wolves 2, West Brom 1 Derby County 2, Liverpool 0 Plymouth 0, Bolton 0 Crystal Palace 0, Norwich 2 Southampton 2

13 Home Wins (41%)
11 Draws (34%)
8 Away Wins (25%)

Shocks: Oxford 3 Swansea 2, Exeter 2 Liverpool 2, West Brom 2 Bristol City 2, Wycombe 1 Aston Villa 1

Combined, those last-five-seasons figures add up to:

Home Wins 46%
Draws 25%
Away Wins 29%

  • Average of 5 shocks in the 3rd round each season (win or draw) 

Note: This season, a full-time draw will go straight to extra time, and penalties if needed – rather than a replay.

Potential banana skins…

Last season there were 16 ties that pitched a Premier League side against a lower-league opponent. Six of them resulted in an upset, in the shape of three wins and three draws for the underdogs.

This year there are 14 ties that meet that Premier League v Football League/ Non League criteria…

If recent seasons are anything to go by, we can expect to see around a third of these ties produce an upset, which would be determined here by a lower-level side getting the win, or the full-time draw to force extra time:

Everton v Rotherham
Blackpool v West Brom
Bristol Rovers v Sheff Utd
Burnley v MK Dons
QPR v Fulham
Stoke v Leicester
Man Utd v Watford
Southampton v Shrewsbury
Chelsea v Morecambe
Crawley v Leeds
Man City v Birmingham
Marine v Tottenham
Newport County v Brighton
Stockport County v West Ham

Relegation candidates on the road…

Two that stick out for me are Blackpool v West Brom, and Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United

West Brom are in a relegation fight in the Premier League. What team will new manager Sam Allardyce put out for the trip to League One side, Blackpool? The 90-minutes upset is 12/5 (3.4), and Blackpool are 11/8 (2.38) To Qualify (Skybet).

Sheff Utd are also in big trouble, rock bottom of the Premier League – and winless after 17 games. With confidence at a serious low for the visitors, Bristol Rovers might sniff blood here. Rovers have won three of their last four games in League One. The home win is 10/3 (4.33), and Rovers are 2/1 (3.0) To Qualify (Skybet).

This is certainly not a normal 3rd round, which may dampen the historical stats listed above. But with everything going on right now, a few surprises can be expected once again, as well as a few postponements.

Those are my thoughts on the FA Cup, as we head into the 3rd round. The above analysis contains plenty of encouragement, if you’re in the mood for upset-hunting this weekend.


My full weekend preview includes Outright Winner advice for the FA Cup, going over results from the last decade – and naming an Each Way outsider to follow this season…

You can access that – and all my weekly football stats, analysis, and bet advice – on our members-only Across the Leagues service…

If you’re not a member yet, find out more and get yourself onboard here.

Enjoy the football…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Oliver Upstone

Across the Leagues Extra