An effective strategy is to back all the top 30 teams, i.e. those in the Premiership and top 10 of the Championship, against sides from outside the top 30. This obvious approach of backing the stronger teams in the country against weaker opponents has produced a win rate in excess of 70%.
This equates to odds of approximately 2/5 and there is added value in this strategy if that average is exceeded by the coupon odds on all the top 30 teams with a home tie against opposition from outside the top 30.
In the Cup, many of the big teams are offered at much shorter odds than 2/5, so this is a high staking strategy which will appeal to the “big hitters” more than the average punter, but it is a strategy that works.
In the 2003/04 season, the top 30 sides had a total of 15 home matches against teams from outside the top 30 during the FA Cup. They were as follows:
Millwall @ 1.91 vs Walsall. Result: 2-1
Portsmouth @ 1.32 vs Blackpool. Result: 2-1
Tottenham Hotspur @ 1.51 vs Crystal Palace. Result: 3-0
Sunderland @ 1.42 vs Hartlepool. Result: 1-0
Middlesbrough @ 1.23 vs Notts County. Result: 2-0
Ipswich @ 1.56 vs Derby County. Result: 3-0
Fulham @ 1.15 vs Cheltenham. Result: 2-1
Bolton @ 1.36 vs Tranmere. Result: 1-2 AET
Wolves @ 1.23 vs Kidderminster. Result: 2-0
Chelsea @ 1.15 vs Watford. Result: 4-0
Portsmouth @ 1.23 vs Scunthorpe. Result: 2-1
Birmingham @ 1.33 vs Milton Keynes. Result: 1-0
Millwall @ 1.79 vs Burnley. Result: 1-0
Sheffield Utd @ 1.41 vs Colchester. Result: 1-0
Millwall @ 1.56 vs Tranmere. Result: 0-0
As you can see, 13 of the 15 matches produced wins for the higher positioned teams with two matches ending as a draw after 90 minutes. Using the above odds as a guide and £10 level stakes, a profit of £32.40 would have been achieved using this strategy.
The figures suggest the gap between the top 30 and the rest is widening and if you don’t mind backing teams at short prices, then this strategy could prove profitable for the third round this season where 10 matches have been identified as follows:
Fulham @ 1.28 vs Leyton Orient
Sunderland @ 1.28 vs Northwich
Blackburn @ 1.44 vs QPR
Chelsea @ 1.05 vs Huddersfield
Manchester City @ 1.20 vs Scunthorpe
Newcastle @ 1.12 vs Mansfield
Preston @ 1.57 vs Crewe
Sheff Utd @ 1.44 vs Colchester
Stoke @ 1.30 vs Tamworth
Wolves @ 1.72 vs Plymouth
Another way to look at this is it is rarely worth opposing the top 30 teams at home if you are looking for “shock results”, as even the chances of a draw are quite slim.