WITH London sides winning four of the previous five FA Cup finals, it really is about time the rest of the country started pulling its weight and giving fans outside of the M25 a reason to cheer.
Only Manchester United have disrupted the tide in that time, lifting the trophy in 2016 thanks to Jesse Lingard’s thunderous effort in extra time against Crystal Palace when down to 10 men.
That was United’s 12th FA Cup win in their history and at the time was a record-equalling triumph, sharing the spoils with Arsenal for number of victories in the competition.
With Arsenal lifting the trophy 12 months later, United’s jubilance was short-lived and the pain of their 1-0 defeat in the final last year against Chelsea was clear for everybody to see.
Tomorrow they face a trip to the Midlands to take-on Wolverhampton Wanderers, another side keen to end the London monopoly having failed to lift the trophy since 1949.
With Millwall, Swansea, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Watford still in the draw, fans will be slightly annoyed that the FA Cup gods handed them a tie against Manchester United.
Especially as it’s a competition that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has laid down a marker in since replacing Jose Mourinho at the helm 18 games ago.
They may have looked less than impressive when dispatching Reading in the third round just five games into his tenure, but since then Solskjaer and Co have turned on the style.
As the two most recent FA Cup winners, neither Arsenal or Chelsea would have been deemed ‘comfortable ties’ to be given so early in the competition, let alone midweek and away from home.
Yet, sensational counter-attacking performances on both occasions saw United win those games 3-1 and 2-0 respectively, so a trip to Wolves shouldn’t be all that daunting for the rejuvenated Red Devils.
Wolves themselves haven’t had it all their own way. Fans must have been expecting a premature exit when drawn against an in-form Liverpool in the third round of the tournament.
However, goals from Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves either side of a Divock Origi strike sent Liverpool out of the tournament and Wolves through to the fourth round with dreams of glory.
Wolves though have made heavy weather of progression since, needing a replay to eventually get the better of Shrewsbury Town before narrowly beating Bristol City.
Wins have been a struggle to come by for Nuno Espírito Santo’s side in the Premier League oflate,too.With a 2-0 home victory against Cardiff their only win in their previous five attempts.
In that time they have lost to lowly Huddersfield and have been held to draws against Newcastle and Bournemouth, so they haven’t exactly installed prospective punters with much hope going into this.
Manchester United on the other hand can be forgiven for their last-time-out defeat against Arsenal.
After all,that came just four days after the dramatic comeback victory away at PSG in the Champions League and their ability to turn around a 2-0 deficit shows Solskjaer’s men can perform under pressure.
Those defeats by PSG and Arsenal have been United’s only losses in the Norwegian’s 18-game reign and having scored 39 goals in that time, the 13/10 on an away win looks a great bet.
Manchester United 13/10