Every shock FA Cup defeat for one of the Premier League's big six is magnified by its headline-grabbing fallout, which distorts perceptions of how common (or not) such upsets are.
With four of the big six facing lower-league opposition in this weekend's fourth round, it is worth reflecting on the figures that lie behind these ties.
The four big teams involved in such matches this weekend are Manchester United (away to Derby), Tottenham (away to Colchester), Arsenal (home to Burnley) and Chelsea (away to MK Dons). Since the emergence of the big six, that quartet have lost only four times to lower-league opposition (once apiece) and the defeat rate is low (10%).
It might be expected that the greatest risk would lie in away games, but only one of the losses has been on the road and the away defeat rate is even lower at just 7%. The rationale behind the figures might be that any sense of complacency is reduced by the obvious danger of playing away, prompting managers to put out stronger teams and leading to fewer slip-ups.
If that is the case, United might be a decent bet at 2.01/1 to negotiate their tricky-looking tie at Derby on Friday night. Although the sample size is small, it is worth noting that United have an away record of W3 D1 L0 against lower-league opponents in the big-six era.
Even more notably, given the negativity surrounding Louis Van Gaal, the current manager has recorded two wins and a draw in away ties against lower-league opposition, which is difficult to quibble with.
Van Gaal's tenure as United boss may well hinge on the outcome of this match - much as it did for Alex Ferguson in a third-round FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest in 1990 - and that increases the likelihood of a strong team being selected by the Dutchman.
The away win rate for big-six teams in this type of match-up is better than the odds indicate and, while it will be hard for many punters to ignore United's recent uninspiring form, there is value judged on the stats.
For those looking for acca bankers, the big-six team with the most reliable record against lower-league opponents is Chelsea with a win rate of 77% and just one defeat in the big-six era (last season's home 4-2 shock loss to Bradford).
Chelsea are 1.351/3 away to MK Dons on Sunday and should provide a happy ending for anyone waiting on them for a winning last leg.
Pulis well placed for another cup run
Five years ago, when Tony Pulis took Stoke to the FA Cup final, his side were comfortably mid-table at this stage of the season (10th with 30 points, eight clear of the relegation zone) and he was able to give the cup serious attention without having to worry unduly about the Premier League.
Pulis is in a similar position now with West Brom (14th with 28 points, seven clear of relegation) and a home tie against Peterborough of League One gives him every chance of taking a step towards another cup run.
The Welshman's cup record remains one of the best among Premier League managers, marking him out as one of the old-fashioned breed who still regard the FA Cup as a top competition. Despite needing a replay to overcome Bristol City in the third round, he has still won nine out of 13 home ties in the last nine seasons (with Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Brom).
At 1.645/8 West Brom rate a good bet on Saturday.
Back Man Utd to beat Derby at 2.01/1 (1pt)
Back West Brom to beat Peterborough at 1.645/8 (1pt)
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