FA Cup: Progress to offer Aston Villa unlikely relegation escape route

Micah Richards' role in resisting FA Cup elimination at Wycombe could yet prove pivotal for Aston Villa
Micah Richards' role in resisting FA Cup elimination at Wycombe could yet prove pivotal for Aston Villa

Over half of the Premier League strugglers to reach the FA Cup fourth round in the last five years stayed up...

"Of the 15 teams across the period under the microscope who started their FA Cup campaigns in the bottom three, over half – 53% to be exact – of those to progress to the fourth round managed to dodge the drop."

Oxford United's slaying of the Premier League's Swansea hogged the bulk of the headlines from an FA Cup third-round weekend that saw a sizeable chunk of the top flight's relegation battlers ejected from the competition.

Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich were struck down along with the Swans, though they were spared the same ignominy through their adversaries - Watford, Arsenal and Manchester City respectively - being based in the same division.

Bournemouth, who overcame Birmingham, and Aston Villa are the only survivors of what was a near-merciless FA Cup cull of the Premier League's lower echelons, though the latter must see off fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers in a replay after drawing 1-1.

With four of their rivals now free to focus solely on their seasonal objective of staying up, are the Cherries - 8.07/1 to be relegated - and Villans 1.041/25 at a disadvantage in still being preoccupied by extracurricular activities?

A five-year study of the Premier League's relegation skirmishes says they are not.

Examining the fortunes of all the teams to play their FA Cup third-round ties across the timeframe in question either in the drop zone, or within six points of it, almost half of those who were eliminated from the competition in the third round were relegated.

In total, 16 of the sides sufficing the aforementioned criteria went clattering into the first hurdle, with seven of these going on to fall through the trap door. Included amongst these are Hull, QPR and Burnley, who all went down last season after losing their respective third-round ties.

The present Premier League picture suggests that those currently residing above the drop zone have only Newcastle and Sunderland to fear, with bottom-placed Villa so far adrift.

Remi Garde's men must make up an 11-point deficit in 18 matches if they are to stay afloat, but victory over Wycombe will boost chances of an impossible-to-envisage salvation, from a statistical perspective at least.

Of the 15 teams across the period under the microscope who started their FA Cup campaigns in the bottom three, over half - 53% to be exact - of those to progress to the fourth round managed to dodge the drop.

Boosted by the knowledge that 44% of teams eliminated at the third-round stage have gone on to be relegated, Bournemouth, safely in the hat for the last 32 of the competition, can feel confident about survival this season.

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