Football Tips: 4 big-value FA Cup shocks on the cards this weekend

Ahhh... The FA Cup Third Round. Everyone's favourite footballing weekend.


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

The FA Cup 3rd round looms into view with the big boys entering the world’s oldest cup competition nervously looking to avoid an upset. It feels like there’s plenty of potential for Cupsets this year with this crazy calendar forcing managers to field weakened sides in the hope of avoiding injury and bolstering their respective league campaigns.

This all boils down to an intriguing weekend where we could see more surprises than usual. We’ve trawled the sprawling fixture list across Saturday and Sunday to unearth four potential upsets.

Saturday 3pm: Blackpool v West Brom – Blackpool to Win

Big Sam Allardyce takes his West Brom side to Blackpool on Saturday considering this tie to be nothing more than a rather large pain in his backside as he looks to turn The Baggies’ fortunes around in the Premier League. They’re second bottom of the top flight with just one win all season.

Their League One opponents Blackpool are perfectly placed to cause a shock here. They’re comfortably midtable (13th) with faint hopes of a playoff push and no worries about a relegation battle. You would fully expect them to field a full-strength side here with a full week’s rest and another seven days until they play again.

Saturday 3pm: Blackpool v West Brom
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West Brom on the other hand, well you might struggle to name any of their starting XI for this one. You may struggle to name their first-choice team, but that’s a different story. Blackpool have been decent at home this season while West Brom have been woeful away, granted, against very differing opposition.

This will essentially be a reserve Championship side taking on a decent, first choice, League One outfit who will be well drilled and fully match fit. You get the feeling West Brom won’t be at all bothered (maybe even pleased) if Blackpool Win and Big Sam can fully focus on protecting his record of never being relegated from the Premier League.

Saturday 3pm: Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United – Rovers to Win

It’s a similar story in our next selection, though Bristol Rovers and Sheffield United find themselves in worse positions in their respective leagues than Blackpool and West Brom. The Blades are rock bottom of the Premier League and on course to break all records for the worst-ever season.

Rovers are 18th in League One but have a handful of games in hand which could seem them slowly rise up the table and give themselves some breathing space over the sides below them. They’ll be relatively fresh after some Covid-enforced rest at the start of last month.

Saturday 3pm: Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United
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In terms of home and away form, United have obviously been dreadful on both fronts, having amassed two points all season. Rovers haven’t been amazing at home but they’ve started picking up results recently under new boss Paul Tisdale and things look to be improving dramatically down in the Westcountry.

United couldn’t be lower on confidence and boss Chris Wilder will undoubtedly field a weakened team as he scrambles to try and avoid shocking records in the top flight. Bristol Rovers are on the up and there’s a decent chance they can improve on their record of three wins in the last four on Saturday.

Paul Tisdale

Saturday 3pm: Exeter v Sheffield Wednesday – Exeter to Win

This is a potential upset that I’ve been eyeing ever since the draw back in November. While things have changed for both sides recently, I still think there’s a good chance the League Two team can prevail in this contest.

Sheffield Wednesday were suffering badly under the brief stewardship of Tony Pulis. The Owls won just one game in 10 with him in charge and it didn’t take long for the axe to fall. Since then, they’ve won the two games following his dismissal and have won three in the last four.

Saturday 3pm: Exeter v Sheffield Wednesday
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But they’re still in big relegation trouble and sit in 21st in The Championship. There is surely no doubt their focus will well and truly be on the league. It’s a different story for promotion-chasing Exeter though.

They’re going to be really fresh for this game, having three of their last four league games postponed due to unplayable away pitches and positive Covid results from their opponents. They’ll be raring to go, are in good form and seem to be able to score at will. Don’t be too surprised if Exeter pull of a bookie-bashing Win in this one.

Sunday 7.45pm: Newport v Brighton – Newport to Win

It would be a big shock if Newport were to knock out Premier League Brighton on Saturday. But there is a chance. The Welsh side are flying in League Two and will go back to the summit if they win their game in hand over Cambridge United.

Brighton are hovering one spot above the drop zone and, just like with West Brom, this game will be an unwelcome distraction for Graham Potter and his staff. This is a good opportunity to rest and rotate ahead of a gruelling second half of the season where Premier League survival is the only thing that matters.

Saturday 3pm: Newport v Brighton
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Brighton have saved their best form for away days – but it’s been a long time since they will have experienced anything like they will at Rodney Parade, Newport’s home. The Welsh outfit share the stadium with the Dragons and Newport RFC and their last two home fixtures have been postponed at late notice. The Exiles have serious recent giant-killing pedigree under Michael Flynn, famously beating Leeds in 2017/18 before taking Tottenham to a replay.

The next season they dumped Leicester out of the cup before beating Middlesbrough in a replay with Manchester City finally ended their amazing run in the next round. The Exiles are a seriously well drilled lower league team and there’s a good sporting chance Newport can stun Potter’s Brighton Under-23 side on their ploughed field in wet and windy South Wales on Sunday night.

Potential FA Cup upsets this weekend

Saturday 3pm: Blackpool v West Brom – Blackpool to Win
Saturday 3pm: Bristol Rovers v Sheffield United – Bristol Rovers to Win
Saturday 3pm: Exeter v Sheffield Wednesday – Exeter to Win
Sunday 7.45pm: Newport v Brighton – Newport to Win

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

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