Although the 135th edition of the most famous domestic cup competition has yet to get underway, I always feel a sense of excitement when the FA Cup starts. Some may feel that the FA Cup has lost some of its magic and importance over the years, but nothing can take away the feeling of watching the underdogs come out on top in David versus Goliath ties that perfectly depict the beautiful game in all its glory.
Reading and Aston Villa proved last year that anything is possible by marching to the semi-finals and final respectively , but I feel this season could be dominated by the big Premier League teams who will value the FA Cup as the perfect opportunity to get their hands on silverware. Football may have lost some of its credibility thanks to the corruption scandal surrounding FIFA, but watching the FA Cup blossom into life could be the ideal ways for myself and other fans to be reminded of what makes the sport so enthralling to watch.
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It has been another interesting summer at Old Trafford, with a number of big-money arrivals and departures taking all of the headlines at Manchester United. Returning to the top four was the bare minimum requirement for Louis Van Gaal in his first season in charge, but much more will be expected of a club that have been synonymous with success over the years. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to handle the demands of challenging for the Premier League title, competing in the Champions League and trying to win a domestic cup competition, but I feel the signings of Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger gives them a great chance in the FA Cup.
Manchester United are currently 7/1 (odds supplied by BetFred) to win the FA Cup this season and end an eleven-year wait to lift the prestigious trophy, but their chances may ultimately rest on whether Van Gaal is able to fix their defensive vulnerability, and if star goalkeeper David De Gea decides to stay or leave for Real Madrid.
One can only hope that Chelsea will face a much stronger test this season than they did during the previous campaign when they merely strolled towards the Premier League title. It still amazes me that they came under so much criticism and scrutiny for dropping off the pace during the latter stages – Chelsea had practically won the league by January as none of their closest challengers mounted any sort of credible challenge.
Jose Mourinho will be all too aware that the 2015/2016 season will be much more difficult as defending champions, but the Blues will undoubtedly target the FA Cup in their search of establishing their dominance in English football. It may, therefore, come as no surprise that Chelsea have been installed as 5/1 favourites to lift the cup, and if they get Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao firing on all cylinders, I would find it extremely difficult to back against them.
Winning the FA Cup last season may have appeased the fans’ demand for silverware, but Arsenal may have their eyes firmly set on the bigger prize – winning the 2015/2015 Premier League title. Arsene Wenger is already under pressure following their surprise 2-0 defeat at home to West Ham, and although Arsenal are often prone to slow starts, it could come back to haunt them once again given the ever-increasing level of competition around them.
There is no doubt that Arsenal are one of, if not the most attractive teams to watch in England, and can be simply unstoppable when they hit top gear. However, Wenger’s stubbornness to stick with Plan A instead of having contingency plans when things are not working out on the pitch is probably why Arsenal are alongside Manchester United in the odds list at 7/1 – behind Manchester City (6/1) and Chelsea. I would say that represents good value for a team who could beat anyone on their day, but as these ‘days’ do not come as often as their fans expect, they could fall short in their efforts to defend their FA Cup crown.