The stats say Palace are safe from the drop

... but they could still be vulnerable to an FA Cup exit

The FA Cup 6th Round. The last eight! In the entire FA system!

Wow! It’s incredible. It would be more incredible if more than about 1.5% of the 730 or so teams had a genuine chance of or actual interest in winning it, but still – it’s a trophy and that’s better than being an Aston Villa fan.

It presents something of a dilemma for Crystal Palace. A semi-final, an unnecessary trip to Wembley and the welcome delusion of pretending your season was actually quite successful is the juicy carrot dangling in front of the club’s metaphorical eyes. For a team who have claimed four points from a possible 36 in the Premier League however, it may seem fairly irrelevant.

Despite being in the lower reaches of the league table and the even lower reaches of the form table, the chances are Palace are safe. Their results are nastier than having to sit through an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys, but crunching the numbers, it looks like continuing the cup run shouldn’t impact on their league survival. Here’s some stats that back that up.

  • Not once in the history of the Premier League has a team nine points clear of the drop with nine games to play ended up going down
  • The biggest cushion ever wasted was the seven points Sheffield United had with nine games to go in the 2006/07 season
  • 17 times in 23 seasons have at least one team not in the bottom three with nine games to ended up going down

Newcastle’s game in hand could complicate things slightly by ensuring the safety cushion may only be six points, but as anyone who has seen Newcastle play lately will confirm, a Toon game in hand is not exactly a nailed on three points in the bank.

Fight or Flight for the Eagles?

Heading to the Madjeski, Palace shouldn’t be too worried about a prolonged cup run compromising their top flight status. History suggests they’ll be safe, even with a fairly mediocre final few weeks to back up their fairly mediocre middle few weeks. That’s useful to know for punters. Palace shouldn’t need to commit FA Cup hara-kiri to survive the relegation mud-wrestle. If Palace go out at the hands of the Royals, it won’t be due to an implicit conspiracy, it’ll be because they’re a bit $h!t. Plus, if you think Alan Pardew’s smug sense of self-regard will allow him to turn up his nose at walking out at Wembley in a dapper new suit with a trendy middle-aged man haircut, then you’ve probably no idea who Alan Pardew is.

Head over to our football betting to see if any teams draw your eye in the FA Cup

With home advantage, Reading look a decent bet at . They’re out of the race for the Championship Playoffs and almost certainly safe from the threat of League 1, so as some cliché should probably go, they’ll go at this like a teenage boy at that Kim Kardashian selfie. Despite being about as reliable as Maria Sharapova’s admin skills, the Royals have been fairly prolific in the cup notching up 14 goals in their four games thus far. A home win plus over 2.5 goals comes in at a tasty .

On the flipside, if their performance against Liverpool (minus the rather ill-conceived tackle from Damien Delaney) was a sign of a Palace turnaround, looks like a reasonable choice. It’s your decision really. If that’s how your buttering your toast on the matter, then look at Palace to win by exactly one goal at . They’ve squeaked through three rounds of the cup by that margin and six of their nine league wins have come by the same method.

Magic of the cup etc., blah, blah, blah … you could realistically see this game going either way, but whatever side of the argument you come out on, there are a couple of juicy options for whichever team you think will reign supreme.