Inside Edge: Is there magic to be found in the FA Cup fourth round?

Inside Edge: Is there magic to be found in the FA Cup fourth round?

Rounding off the week, Joe Mellor and Nick Haynes at Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – take a look at how the top-tier teams fare against lower league opposition in the FA Cup, and where the magic might be in this year’s round four.

FA Cup fourth round – Where’s the value?

Dating back to the 1998/99 season, there have been 218 matches between Premier League and lower league sides beyond the third round and it’s little surprise that the top-tier teams tend to come out on top with a 61.8% winning percentage in that time. Nine clubs fit that mould for this round of fixtures, with the home sides (Brighton, Chelsea, Everton, Sheffield United and West Ham) seeing that percentage rise to 65.9%. While that would usually be an impressive return, considering that record is up against sides lower down the football league, it really should be higher to warrant getting behind.

In order to gain more depth with this, segregating the traditional ‘Big Six’ sides from the rest of the league gives us vastly more impressive results. Indeed, there have been 123 matches between the Big Six and lower league opposition, with the Premier League clubs coming out on top in 91 (74.0%) while they’ve lost just 13 (10.6%) of those games in the last 22 years, which looks to be good news for Chelsea, Man City and Spurs fans.

History would suggest it’s the Blues who have the best chance of proceeding, going W26-D3-L2 from their such games over this period while even more astonishingly, 25 of those 26 victories have come by at least two clear strikes, including all 13 home wins.

However, there could be some value in an FA Cup upset or two, and it’s those weaker Premier League sides that could be vulnerable. When excluding those ‘Big Six’ sides, top-flight clubs have a meagre 54.3% win percentage against teams lower down the pecking order, implying odds of 1.84. Brighton, Everton, Leicester, Sheffield United, West Ham and Wolves all fit that mould this weekend, though in truth we’d discount the Foxes from this bracket considering they deserve to be considered at least on par with those ‘Big Six’ clubs.

Such sides have a 21.46% loss rate, giving their opponents implied odds of 4.66 and seemingly making all of Blackpool (8.6), Sheffield Wednesday (9.8), Plymouth (7.75), Doncaster (11.5) and Chorley (29) very good value for money. Statistically one of these sides is going to cause an upset, whether it be a draw or victory over a top-tier side, with Plymouth in particular, who are now unbeaten in four matches domestically, looking extremely long against Premier League whipping boys Sheffield United.

Away from the potential Cup upsets, we have three all Premier League clashes. Defending champions Arsenal travel to the south coast as they look to get past a difficult Southampton side, while Fulham host Burnley as Scott Parker’s men try to turn their good performances into results. Though the highlight clash of the weekend comes on Sunday evening as it’s Man United’s turn to host their North-West rivals Liverpool, just one week after their 0-0 draw at Anfield. 

The Reds (2.7), in truth, have a relatively poor Cup record over time, and that hasn’t exactly improved under current management. Since winning the competition in 2005/06, they’ve fallen at the fifth round or earlier in 12 of the subsequent 14 seasons. Under Jurgen Klopp alone, they’re just W6-D4-L5 in this competition and when facing top-tier opposition that shortens to W3-D1-L4 when including extra time, and one of those wins came against Aston Villa’s youth team just a fortnight ago.

It’s a different story for the Red Devils (2.7). They’ve won 19 of their last 24 matches when including extra time, with three of their four defeats in that time have come at the hands of Chelsea who have a notoriously strong record in this competition, and they’ve beaten a whole host of Premier League sides in that run including Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. It’s no surprise to see the hosts favourites here, with form suggesting that they have what it takes to come out on top, and competition history serves to support the market in this case.

German Bundesliga: B. M’gladbach (3.25) v B. Dortmund (2.3)

  • B.M’gladbach have conceded first in 11/14 home matches against top-six teams like Dortmund.
  • Dortmund have won all 12 H2H’s between the two sides since 2015/16. 
  • B. M’gladbach have lost the first half exactly 1-0 in a third of their 31 home matches against top-six sides since the start of 2015/16, while Dortmund have won the opening half by that same scoreline in 29% of their 28 respective away ties.

NFL Conference Championships – Key Stats

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+168) @ Green Bay Packers (-172)

  • The Buccs and the Packers both ranked in the top three scoring offences in the NFL this season (3rd and 1st, respectively), and are the top two in passing touchdowns.
  • Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have faced each other three previous times in their careers, with Brady leading the head-to-head 2-1.
  • Both sides have hit the Overs mark in 56.2% of their games in the regular season.

Buffalo Bills (+150) @ Kansas City Chiefs (-154)

  • The Chiefs are the number one ranked offence in the league, though the Bills follow in just behind as the second-best offence, while both are ranked in the top three passing offences in the NFL.
  • Stefon Diggs led the NFL in catches (127) and yards (1,535) for the Bills, while Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill had 16 catches between them for the Chiefs against the Browns last time out. 
  • The Chiefs are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven outings against fellow AFC sides, while the Bills are a more impressive 9-1 ATS in their last 10 matches.

Stat of the day

  • The ‘Big Six’ Premier League clubs have won 91 of their 123 FA Cup matches (74%) against lower league opposition over the last 22 years, losing just 13 (10.06%). 

SBC News Inside Edge: Is there magic to be found in the FA Cup fourth round?

Form Labs delivers bespoke editorial covering a variety of sports to a number of sportsbooks. Click here for more information or contact Nick Haynes on [email protected].

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