The romance of the FA Cup comes again in the Round of 64, where potential banana skins lie in wait for a handful of English Premier League teams
|By PAUL GOUGH
Aston Villa and Newcastle look to be the two English Premier League teams most in danger of a potential banana-skin FA Cup tie when third-round action gets underway on Saturday.
The third round of the FA Cup is the most romantic day on the English footballing calendar, when the big boys of the top flight take on the lower division teams in the Round of 64, with 29 matches set down for Saturday.
There are just three all-Premier League ties on Saturday, meaning there is plenty of opportunities for the kind of upset results that have long made the FA Cup such a famous and watchable competition.
Villa, winners of the FA Cup on seven occasions but not since 1957, are sitting 16th in the Premier League and host Championship side Ipswich Town, who sit 19th in England's second tier competition.
Ipswich have only tasted defeat once in their past four matches, while Aston Villa are in with a real chance of being relegated from the top flight for the first time since 1987, having failed to win any of their past four matches while in that time conceding 17 goals.
Villa are favourites for this game given their home advantage at $1.91 at sportsbet.com.au, $1.95 at TAB Sportsbet and $2.02 at Betfair, but Ipswich are in with a real chance at $4, $3.50 and $4.40 respectively.
The draw, which would then require the teams to meet again in a replay at Ipswich, is best odds of $3.60 at Betfair.
|Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City to win their ties at Betfair
||Brighton Hove & Albion to win v Newcastle United at $2.88 at Betfair|
Newcastle look even more vulnerable away to a good Championship side in Brighton Hove & Albion in the early fixture on Saturday.
Brighton, under the management of former Chelsea and Tottenham star Gus Poyet, are sitting ninth in the Championship, while Newcastle are in free fall in the Premier League, having slumped to 15th.
And Newcastle have also just lost star striker Demba Ba to Chelsea in the January transfer window.
All that makes Brighton great value in this game as only the slight $2.88 underdogs at Betfair, with Newcastle at $2.56, while at sportsbet.com.au it is $2.80 for Brighton, $2.50 for Newcastle and $3.30 for the draw.
In overall betting on this season's FA Cup, Manchester City head into the third round as the $6.20 favourites at Betfair ahead of Manchester United at $7.80, Chelsea at $8.20, Tottenham at $11.50, Liverpool and Arsenal at $12 and Everton at $14.
Those seven clubs have won every FA Cup since 1989, with the exception of Portsmouth's shock 2008 triumph.
However, while City should cruise into the third round at home against Championship side Watford, United - havingnot won the FA Cup since 2004 - and Chelsea, winners in four of the past six seasons, both face testing starts to their campaigns against fellow EPL sides.
The fourth-placed Blues, who suffered a shock league loss to bottom side Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, are away to 17th-placed Southampton although they remain the $1.67 favourites to win the match at Betfair, with the Saints at $5.50.
And league leaders United face an even tougher tie away to 11th-placed West Ham.
But with United having only bowed out in the third round twice in the past 30 years, Sir Alex Ferguson's team are priced at $1.73 at Betfair to beat the Hammers, who are at $5.50.
* Note prices subject to change