First, remember that it is a rare year indeed in which at least one of what used to be known as the Big Five - Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham - does not reach the final. Second, there can be no value in backing a side whose third-round match is anything but an apparent walkover.
The latter point rules out Manchester United and Spurs, who meet at Old Trafford on Sunday for, while Tottenham's 7-1 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday was far from an ideal preparation, their Cup tradition is such that an upset is possible. Arsenal, too, who entertain Peter Reid's Sunderland, are hardly over-priced at 13-2.
Straightforward tasks await both Liverpool and Everton, however and, while Everton appear too inconsistent to go all the way, Liverpool look set for a good run. But at 6-1 they are effectively odds-on for every match and not a punting proposition.
The two prices which stand out at this stage are those against Aston Villa (11-1, Coral) and Coventry (50-1, Ladbrokes). Strictly speaking, Villa's away tie next week should rule them out but Notts County have recently sacked their joint-managers and are second from bottom of Division Two.
Coventry have finally started to add up to the sum of their parts and should make short work of Woking. The 50-1 is simply too big for an improving Premiership outfit.
FA CUP (Third round, Saturday): Best prices: 6-1 Liverpool (C). 13-2 Newcastle (C). 7-1 Man Utd (C), Arsenal (L). 10-1 Chelsea (H). 11-1 Aston Villa (C). 12-1 Everton (H). 20-1 Wimbledon (C). 22-1 Middlesbrough (T), Spurs (T). 25-1 Blackburn (C,T). 28-1 Leeds (H), Sheffield Wed (H), Leeds (C,H,L). 33-1 West Ham (C,L). 40-1 Nottingham Forest (C,H,L,T), Leicester (H,L). 50-1 Derby (L), Coventry (L). 66-1 Southampton (C). 80-1 Bolton (C), QPR (C,H,L,T). 100-1 Wolves (C), Sunderland (H), Birmingham (C,L,T), Crystal Palace (C,L,T), Sheffield Utd (C,L,T). 125-1 Bar.
l C Coral. H William Hill. L Ladbrokes. T Tote.Reuse content