Good start of year for the Frenchman Olivier Giroud. With this backheel, he gave the victory to Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
The FA Cup is undoubtedly one of the most famous and prestigious domestic cup competitions in world football, with its ability to produce endless drama and headline-making giant-killings being the pinnacle of everything that is great about it. Lower and non-league teams get the opportunity to pit their wits against the Premier League big boys, with Reading and Bradford City last year proving that reaching the latter stages is by no means impossible for teams outside out of the top flight. It promises to be yet another fascinating tournament, and with the 3rd Round Draw producing eye-catching fixtures such as Exeter v Liverpool, Oxford v Swansea and Everton v Dagenham or Whitehawk, there is real potential for a big upset.
Arsenal are the team that the other sixty-three clubs remaining in the 2015/2016 FA Cup will be looking to knock off their perch, with Arsene Wenger’s men on the cusp of history by becoming only the third team after Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers to win the trophy three years in a row. However, a spate of injuries to key players such as Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla may explain why the Gunners are only second favourites at 13/2 with Betway to achieve the historic feat. The upcoming January transfer window may be a great opportunity for Wenger to add the strength in numbers that Arsenal have been crying out for, but they have enough quality at their disposal to fancy their chances once again, particularly with a home tie against struggling Sunderland to start their FA Cup campaign off with.
Manchester City have been installed as early favourites at 6/1 to end Arsenal’s stranglehold on the FA Cup and bring the trophy back to the Etihad Stadium. This may come as a surprise to those who have seen Manuel Pellegrini’s side struggle to impose themselves in recent week, especially without influential captain Vincent Kompany as they have looked anything but secure in defence. It will inevitably come down to Sergio Aguero to lead from the front yet again, with the Argentine striker capable of winning games on his own. His quality may be enough for those consider placing a bet on who’ll make the FA Cup final with Coral to pick Manchester City, but they will have to get past a potentially tough test at Norwich if they are to progress past the 3rd Round and have any hopes of achieving glory.
Although Manchester United and Chelsea are both 7/1 shots, both are enduring their own struggles at the present moment. The former have recently suffered the ignominy of dropping into the Europa League after crashing out of the Champions League, with Louis Van Gaal under increasing pressure following the lack of entertaining football that his team are playing, while the latter have endured a major fall from grace by going from Premier League champions to being just two points away from the relegation zone this season. It could, therefore, see Liverpool stand the best chance of emerging as real FA Cup contenders, with Jurgen Klopp making an instant impact at Anfield. The former Borussia Dortmund manager has transformed the way that Liverpool play, and with the January transfer window coming up, they could put themselves in serious contention to challenge for silverware this season.
The FA Cup always has the potential of throwing up shocks and surprises along the way, and although teams from the Championship and below should not discount themselves from having a chance, there are potential dark horses that could go all the way. Current Premier League leaders Leicester are enjoying a wonderful season under Claudio Ranieri and continue to go from strength to strength, while West Ham have beaten the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool away from home already. Both are 33/1 shots to lift the FA Cup, while Everton could also have a chance with the quality of football they are currently playing under Roberto Martinez. With Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu in superb form for the Toffees, their odds of 16/1 represents good value for a team that look extremely strong at present and could fancy a good cup run.
Congratulations to Arsenal, winners of FA Cup 2014!
Lukasz Fabianski, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Arsene Wenger.
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