League football takes a break in England, but domestic action continues as the third round of the FA Cup commences this weekend as the big boys wade into the competition.
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Champions Manchester City, have been handed a fairly favourable tie at home to Port Vale, while the headline fixtures stand out at the Molineux Stadium and Anfield as Wolves host Manchester United and Liverpool prepare to do battle with Everton in the Merseyside derby.
Elsewhere, London’s three big guns will be strongly fancied as Chelsea welcome Nottingham Forest to Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho looks to end the trophy drought at Tottenham when they play Middlesbrough and Mikel Arteta’s first cup game in charge of Arsenal begins at home on Monday night to Leeds United.
Saturday 4 January
Manchester United 33/20 (19:31)
We kick-start third-round proceedings with a humdinger to look forward to as Wolves host Manchester United this Saturday. This encounter will see a repeat of last season’s quarter-finals where Wolves came out 2-1 winners on that day. Since their breakthrough into the top flight, Wolves have had an excellent record against the division’s ‘Big Six’ and particularly over Manchester United. The Red Devils have struggled for consistency, but tend to raise their game for the big matches, beating Chelsea, Leicester City, Tottenham and Man City this season, while they drew with Arsenal and Liverpool. United have clearly identified domestic cups as their best shot at silverware this season, and will likely field their strongest XI here as they’ve done in the League Cup. Still, its hard to see Wolves losing at home, especially after beating Manchester City 3-2 in their last encounter at the Molineux. My money is on the Home Win/Draw Double Chance & Both Teams to Score at 12/10.
Sunday 5 January
Nottingham Forest 7/1 (16:01)
Frank Lampard goes in search of his first piece of silverware as a manager when Chelsea host Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ home has been far from a fortress this season, but with Lampard expected to ring the changes for this tie, Chelsea’s fringe players will look to right the wrongs of their first team regulars. Forest are in with a shout at the promotion play-off spots but have been inconsistent all season. They were dumped out of the League Cup, with Arsenal cruising to a 5-0 win. Take Chelsea on the (-1) Handicap at 8/10.
Tottenham 4/10 (16:01)
Middlesbrough will be looking to cause a major upset when they welcome Tottenham to the Riverside Stadium. Spurs haven’t been at their ruthless best thus far under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. That said, the Portuguese will almost certainly be targetting to FA Cup, as it’s the last trophy they can realistically win this season. Boro have turned Riverside into a fortress again, enduring a six-game unbeaten run at home, winning the last four. Perhaps play it safe in this encounter and back Both Teams to Score at 9/10.
Everton 17/4 (18:01)
In the glamour tie of the third round, Liverpool and Everton go head-to-head in what is expected to be a fiery Merseyside derby. This will be Carlo Ancelotti’s first taste of derby action against Jurgen Klopp’s club world champions. To date, the Toffees have only had positives under Ancelotti, while Liverpool have just been going from strength to strength. The last time these sides met was not so long ago in the league where a weakend Reds XI ran riot, ousting Everton 5-2 at Anfield. Takumi Minamino will be hoping to feature and hit the ground running after sealing his move from RB Salzburg. With the home crowd on their side, I fancy Liverpool to get the job done at 5/10.
Monday 6 January
Leeds United 4/1 (21:56)
Mikel Arteta’s first game in a cup competition as Arsenal head coach sees his Gunners host Leeds United on Monday night at the Emirates Stadium. Leeds are flying high in the Championship and look as though they’ll finally break back into England’s elite. Arsenal, on the other hand, have continued to wobble under Arteta, dropping points against an injury-ravaged Bournemouth outfit before losing at home against Chelsea. Its still early days and everyone will be playing for their position in the team. It’s not going to be easy, but I’d back the hosts here at 6/10.
TREBLE @ 4/1
Wolves Win/Draw & BTTS 12/10
Liverpool Win 5/10
Arsenal Win 6/10
Written by Jesse Nagel for SBN and Hollywoodbets.