Crystal Palace have been superb in this season's FA Cup; Michael Lintorn presents the case for them going all the way...
"A win to nil at White Hart Lane wasn’t just enormous because of the magnitude of the achievement or the fact that the result eliminated one of the frontrunners. It is also a hugely promising omen to be the team who take out Tottenham because two of their last four conquerors went on to lift the trophy."
Having been available to back at 50.0 earlier in the competition, Crystal Palace are 9.28/1 fifth favourites to win the FA Cup after beating Tottenham away and drawing the sole confirmed Championship survivors in the quarter-finals. Here are five reasons to fancy them at that price...
The manager's ten-year anniversary
Alan Pardew has reached the FA Cup final as a player and a manager, scoring the extra-time semi-final clincher against Liverpool which guided Crystal Palace to Wembley in 1990 and leading West Ham to the final in their first season back in the Premier League after promotion a decade ago. On both occasions, the finals were 3-3 thrillers - against Manchester United in 1990 and Liverpool in 2006. Since returning to Palace as manager little over a year ago, he has contested nine cup ties in all competitions and progressed from an impressive seven.
The significance of the Tottenham kill
A win to nil at White Hart Lane wasn't just enormous because of the magnitude of the achievement or the fact that the result eliminated one of the frontrunners. It is also a hugely promising omen to be the team who take out Tottenham because two of their last four conquerors went on to lift the trophy. In 2013/14, they fell at the first hurdle to neighbours Arsenal, who gained so much belief from the experience that they went on to end their eight-year wait for silverware, and their 5-1 thrashing by Chelsea in 2011/12 was followed by the Blues defeating Liverpool in the final.
The perfect league position
Pardew spoke in the aftermath about trying to better last term's best ever Premier League finish of tenth, but that is a distant second in the priority list to FA Cup glory, which is why he has effectively picked his strongest side in every round. Their current Premier League position is ideal for pursuing an FA Cup challenge from. They are eight points adrift of sixth, meaning that they can focus more on the cup without compromising an opportunity to qualify for Europe in the league, while they are the same margin from the relegation zone, hinting that poor form won't be punished too harshly. Stoke were halfway between sixth and 18th after 26 games when they got to the final in 2010/11.
The luck of the draw
Though Hull and Shrewsbury remain in the competition, they will need to see off Arsenal and Man United to secure quarter-final spots. The only lower-league side whose last-eight participation was official were Reading owing to their victory over West Brom on Saturday, and they were therefore a more desirable opponent for the Premier League clubs left in than potentially Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, West Ham, Everton or Watford. The Eagles were the ones awarded the trip to the Madejski.
Their work so far
If the south Londoners do get through their quarter-final and then avoid one of the elite in favour of someone like Watford or West Ham in the semi-finals, there will be efforts made to claim that Palace fluked their way to the final. However, the reality is that they have fully earned that good fortune by clearing three monstrous obstacles in the first three rounds in the shape of Southampton, Stoke and Spurs - two of them away. Nobody else has got rid of three Premier League teams, let alone three from the top half, so Pardew's men have been the tournament's outstanding performers thus far.