Ange Postecoglou has turned Tottenham into great entertainers (Picture: Getty Images)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Christmas and New Year festivities may be over and the harsh reality of returning to work in the cold, dark and rain may be setting in but there’s still plenty to celebrate.
A bizarre turn of events saw every single London team (unless you count Sutton United) drawn at home in the third round of the FA Cup where matches are spread out over five glorious days, starting with Thursday’s clash between Crystal Palace and Everton under the Selhurst Park lights.
Then on Friday Brentford entertain Wolves, Tottenham host Burnley and Fulham are home to Rotherham so at least three Premier League clubs will be knocked out before Saturday’s matches kick-off. What fun!
Saturday’s blockbuster sees Sunderland entertain Newcastle at lunchtime while Sunday’s box office attraction is the cracker between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.
The exciting run of matches concludes with Manchester United’s short trip to Wigan on Monday and while it looks a formality for Erik ten Hag’s team, they have been so poor in recent performances a shock result isn’t unthinkable.
The big question is who is going to lift the cup at Wembley in May and, just like the race for the Premier League title, the field is wide open.
Manchester City are 3/1 favourites with Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet but have not been in their best form and the Champions League and Premier League title defences will take priority.
Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton could all enjoy deep runs but are also involved in energy-sapping European activities which will eventually take their toll so that leaves just four teams – Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham – who are able to concentrate on the FA Cup while seeking to finish strongly in the top flight.
Erik Ten Hag has work to do before Manchester United can be backed (Picture: Getty Images)
Backing any of them comes with a degree of trepidation. United’s inconsistencies are showing no signs of abating, the Magpies are not as good as last year, Chelsea are improving but manager Mauricio Pochettino still has work to do, and Spurs desperately need to strengthen a thin squad devastated by injuries.
Ange Postecoglou has worked wonders at Tottenham, however, and with core players such as James Maddison, Micky van de Ven, Rodrigo Bentancur and Cristian Romero returning to the fold plus a few January additions on the horizon, they are worth an each-way wager at 14/1 with Betway and bet365 to win their first silverware since claiming the League Cup in 2008.
• Premier Greyhound Racing have set up a wonderful new daily service which is broadcast on Sky Sports Racing and it promises to be a lot of fun. King Memphis impressed when winning the Olympic at Hove just before Christmas and is worth gobbling up at 22/1 with Coral for this year’s Greyhound Derby.
Tottenham can win the FA Cup.