Everton represent value for a repeat

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The third round of the FA Cup this weekend should provide a conclusive test of the well-touted belief that the Premiership is still accelerating away from the rest of the League. A surprising number of the leading clubs face difficult away ties, and from a betting point of view, this makes the outright odds on the competition very interesting.

At 100-1 and above for the best-fancied Endsleigh League sides, it is clearly unlikely that the Cup will move beyond the Premiership, but the list of major clubs still involved could shrink dramatically by this time next week. Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Queen's Park Rangers all travel to face well-organised teams in good or excellent form. Even Hereford cannot be dismissed against Tottenham, while Newcastle or Chelsea, of course, will definitely make an early exit.

As a result, not one of the these clubs is a value bet at their current odds. The only sensible course is to back an in-form Premiership team with a good Cup pedigree and a straightforward home tie, and two names in particular stand out.

Everton, the holders, have added extra talent, in the form of Andrei Kanchelskis, to the combination of skill and resilience that carried them home last time, and must be backed at 20-1 with William Hill. The same firm also offers Aston Villa at double-figure odds, and 10-1 is a very fair price for a side which has already shown a liking for knockout competitions by advancing to the quarter-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup.

FA CUP: BEST ODDS (C, Coral; H, Hills; L, Ladbrokes): 6-1 Manchester Utd (C), Liverpool (C/H), Arsenal (C/H/L), 7-1 Newcastle (C), 10-1 Aston Villa (H), Tottenham (H/L), 14-1 Blackburn (H), 16-1 Middlesbrough (H), 20-1 Everton (H), 22-1 Nottingham Forest (C), 28-1 Sheffield Wednesday (C), West Ham (L), 33-1 Chelsea (C/H), 33-1 Manchester City (C/H/L), 50- 1 Coventry (L), QPR (H/L), Southampton (H/L), 66-1 Wimbledon (H), 80-1 Bolton (H/L), 100-1 Norwich (L), 125-1 Birmingham (L), and others.