The oldest domestic cup competition in world football returns this evening. At a quick glance it looks like the 4th round is packed full of the kind of ties this competition is so famous for. English Football has two main strengths that make the domestic game such a global success. The 1st is the competitiveness of the Premier League. No other league in the world has such strength in depth, not only in playing quality but also in atmosphere and history. The English games 2nd biggest attribute is its amazing strength in depth, non-league football thrives producing sides of great quality and support right down its 10 levels.
The weekend kicks off with a classic FA cup tie, where a top Championship side meet a struggling Premier league side.
Derby V Leicester Friday 7.55 on BBC 1
Leicester are now in real danger of getting relegated and realistically their Champions League run will be ended by table topping Seville. So if they want some light in their season they need to win this one. Claudio Ranieri played a pretty strong side in the last round against Everton although he did leave out his two best players in Vardy and Mahrez. Their league position has worsened since then so the big question when betting on this game is will he play a full team?
We have to say no. He’s known as the tinker man and he knows that the game at Burnley on Tuesday is massive. If they lose that then with United next they could end up very close to the drop line at the start of Feb.
They have a better squad this year so will be competitive but we are not sure their heart will be fully in it. Derby are 6 points off a play-off place and also play again on Tuesday. However at home in front of their amazing 32,000 fans they will put a full strength team out we think.
We don’t know if they will have quite enough quality to win the game but cannot see them getting beat. Back the draw at a fair looking 3.4 with Paddy Power.
Liverpool V Wolves, Saturday 12.30, BT Sport 1
At first glance we were not sure why BT had picked this, well apart from their being a lot of Liverpool fans in the world that is. However their recent form guide reads like a naughty school boys report card, only one win in the last 6 and that was against Plymouth. Wolves on the other hand have won 3 of their last 6 including an away victory at Stoke in the last round and have also defeated their local rivals Villa. On top of Liverpools recent poor form is the fact they played a high intensity game against Saints on Wednesday and have Chelsea to play in the league on Tuesday. Finally the absence of Mane is causing them huge issues as teams are pushing up higher in his absence.
Liverpool will have to make changes but at home we think they will still have enough to perhaps nick this. However for us the bet is on the Asian line, back Wolves + 2 at 1.7 with 32Red. For those not familiar with betting on Asian handicap lines + 2 means that you get a 2 goal head start. So for you to lose the bet completely Liverpool have to win by at least 3 clear goals, if they win by 2 then you get your money back. Any other result and you are a winner.
Blackburn V Blackpool, Saturday 3.00
This Lancashire Derby has not made the cut for TV and we can see why. Blackburn are 2 divisions above Blackpool but face a relegation battle so will no doubt rest players, Blackpool are safe mid table so will fancy a real go at this one.
For us though 2 divisions at home is too much to make up, and a good cup run could actually help Blackburns survival fight. Back them at a decent looking 1.8 with Ladbrokes.
Burnley V Bristol City, Saturday 3.00
Although Burnley are not quite safe yet they will have to play very badly to get relegated from here. Which should free them up to really go for the cup.
Bristol on the other hand have a battle on their hands to stay in the Championship and we think are more likely to rest players. They have Sheffield Wednesday at home on Tuesday and will fancy trying to get all 3 points in that one.
Back Burnley to win this one and continue their excellent home form. You can back them at a best price in the world of 1.67 with Paddy Power.
Chelsea V Brentford, Saturday at 3.00
Chelsea will have at least one eye on Liverpool on Tuesday as if they win that you can give them the title. They also lost to Bradford at this stage at home 2 years ago when again in prime spot in the league so you cannot totally rule out a shock. However under Conte Chelsea seem fully professional and have plenty of squad options. They can field a very strong side whilst at the same time resting their best players.
At a best price of just 1.2 with Paddy Power there is very little value in backing them. However we think they will win. Stay away from this one as there is better value elsewhere.
Palace V Man City, Saturday 3.00
We were expecting an improvement from Palace under big Sam but as yet we have not seen it. They have been awful and now find themselves in a really precarious position in the league. A cup run is the last thing they need as from now on in they have cup finals for every league game.
City on the other hand seem to be loving the cup judging by the 5 – 0 demolition of West Ham in the last round. The league has gone for City this year but they can still win this. They played fantastically against Spurs and should have won by 3 or 4 goals.
Put all this together and you have to back city. The price is short but we feel still offers value at 1.57 with 888Sport.
Lincoln V Brighton, Saturday 3.00
Lincoln are top of the national league and playing well having won 4 out of the last 6. At home the atmosphere should be excellent and against a struggling Championship team we could see an upset.
However against a team as good as Brighton it’s hard to see them getting anything from the game. If you want to back Lincoln you are assuming Brighton will rest a lot of players, we just do not see that happening.
They are 9 points above Leeds and have played a game less so really unless they completely collapse they should this time get to the Premier league. For them they will fancy a long cup run and getting a top side at home, they will want to test the current squad against the best to find out what they need in the summer.
With all this in mind we say back Brighton at 1.8 with Stan James.
Middlesbrough V Accrington, Saturday 3.00
Both these sides are just above the drop zone in their respective leagues. Middlesbrough are on a bad run and with Swansea scoring goals for fun are in real danger of dropping out of the league, and really so far have been pretty tight, so if they add in a cup run in the 2nd half of the season they could slip below the relegation line. It’s a huge game for Stanley as they rarely get this far and so will enjoy their day out.
Even with a lot of changes which we expect Middlesbrough to make we still think they will win this one as the last thing they want is a replay.
The price is fair enough and for us and offers some value at 1.35 with Sportingbet.
Oxford V Newcastle, Saturday 3.00
This for us should have been on TV. It is the classic cup contest of two teams used to winning games with only one league between them, and Oxford are at home. Oxford are the form team of league 1 and spent a lot of money in the summer. Those signing have taken a while to gel but are now paying off.
Newcastle want a cup run. They are massive club and want something in the trophy cabinet so you can expect a pretty strong side.
We think Newcastle might just nick this one but it will be really tight. Back Oxford on the Asian line of + 1 with 188bet at 1.69.
Rochdale V Huddersfield, Saturday 3.00
This is an interesting cup tie. Rochdale have their best team for years as have Huddersfield. They are both top 6 in their respective leagues so we think this will be very close.
The 5th round is a big draw for both clubs and we think Huddersfield will really fancy showing off their team and ground on TV in the next round.
Couple to that the fact that Rochdale have lost their last two games and we think the Yorkshire side will win this one.
You can back them at a best price in the world of 2.2 with Betway.
Spurs V Wycombe, Saturday 3.00
Spurs on their day are the best side in the country and will feel that the FA Cup is something they can win. They have a great cup tradition and although they are still in the league fight the FA cup is the trophy they are most likely to win.
Wycombe are a solid side and have not lost in 6 but the gulf in quality at Spurs is just too vast to think about an upset in this one.
Stick Spurs in your acca and move on, William Hill have the best price in the world at 1.17.
Saints V Arsenal, Saturday 5.30 BT Sport 2
The issue for Saints in this one is the Liverpool game on Wednesday, they were fantastic but it will have taken a lot out of them. With nothing to play for in the league they will be fielding their strongest side.
Arsenal know what will happen if they send anything other than their strongest 11 out as Saints knocked them out of the League cup in just such circumstances.
The price seems to assume that Arsenal will play their star players in particular Sanchez. A top price of just 2.05 with Boylesports does not leave any room for squad players, if they do field an under strength side the price will drift massively.
If Arsenal do play their strongest team then it should be a cracker. Although Saints played an extra game they won it so will be feeling very confident.
We think even with their best side Arsenal could lose this one, with the chance he will rest players we have to be on Saints. Back them at a best price in the word of 3.75 with Bet365.
Millwall V Watford, Sunday 12.00 BBC1
Millwall are doing well in League 1 and had a great win over Bournemouth in the last round. They have not lost in their last 6 and tend to win most of their home games. It’s likely to be a cracking atmosphere for this London Derby with both sides feeling they can make the 5th round.
Watford have only won once in the last 6 and that was in the cup, however their performance against Bournemouth was much improved last time out.
We think the two divisions difference will show through in this one. Watford look like a big price at 2.45 with Boylesports.
Fulham V Hull, Sunday 12.30
This one looks to offer some value on Hull at first glance as they are the Premier League team. However that would not consider their current league position or the fact they play on Thursday.
Fulham are good side and are developing into a very good side. They should have enough against what will be a complete Hull reserve team.
Back them at the best price in the world of 2.15 with Betway.
Sutton United V Leeds, Sunday 2.00 BT Sport 2
For everyone at Appbet this is the tie of the round. It is everything the FA cup should be. A huge gulf in leagues between the teams, a tight 5,000 crammed into a classic non-league English stadium, and every chance of a big upset.
Sutton have been superb this year in all cup competitions, they are still in the trophy and have already knocked out a good league 1 side in Wimbledon.
There is a slight injury concern over Suttons main man Nicky Bailey but the word from Sutton is that he will play in what is the biggest game of his life. His partner in the middle of midfield is Craig Eastmond and between them at home they will be capable of keeping the ball better than the neutral will expect. If Sutton are going to get a massive win then the two key lads in midfield will need to find Mr FA cup Roarie Duncan, he has scored in every round to date, for all the neutrals watching let’s hope he does it again. His strike partner will be Maxime Biamou who will play in the football league pretty soon as he has real quality.
So Sutton are a solid side. Leeds have just moved up to third in the Championship and look like they have their best side in the last 10 years. Their travelling support will be loud which is what will turn this into a classic cup tie.
You can back Leeds to spoil the party at a very tempting looking 1.67 with Boylesports. If Leeds play their full side then this is a real bargain. However they still have a chance of automatic promotion and play Blackburn on Wednesday. We think this will mean a few players are rested and that’s all Sutton will need to make this really interesting.
If Leeds rest players then they will be happy for a draw which will also suit Sutton as it means a huge pay day. We suggest you back Sutton + 1 at 1.73 with 188, that way if Leeds do just nick it by 1 you get your money back.
United V Wigan, Sunday 4.00 BBC 1
The BBC have let a 10 year old pick the games again with this one. Admittedly if you happen to support United then it’s a great pick and we are sure unexpected, however if like the other 20 million football fans in the country you don’t then it is a truly baffling selection.
Wigan have won their last 3 fixtures which makes it slightly more competitive, and of course won the trophy a few years ago. However given they are in the teeth of a relegation fight to stay in the Championship you would forgive the manager resting a few.
United are a 1.18 shot with Paddy Power and given they are out of everything domestically apart from the FA Cup it is hard to see them not taking this seriously and so winning the game. Stick them in your acca and then go out for a late Sunday lunch.
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