The action in the English Premier League is heating up with entertaining football regularly being displayed by some of the finest players in the world and unpredictable results that constantly leave us craving for more each week.
This will sadly be put on the back burner this weekend as Premier League clubs switch focus to the oldest cup competition in the world – the FA Cup. Teams from the top-tier join the prestigious competition in this round with eventual victory earning the winners bragging rights of a well-respected trophy in the cabinet, but for some, it is also another route to the UEFA Europa League.
Friday 8 January
Wolves 1/1 | Draw 23/10 | Crystal Palace 28/10
Wolves, who are languishing in 13th spot on the Premier League standings, play host to 14th-placed Crystal Palace at the Molineux Stadium on Friday night. Last year’s FA Cup journey was short-lived as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men were knocked out by Manchester United in the third round and will surely be aiming for a better cup run this time around. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, didn’t progress further than Wolves after suffering a third-round defeat to Championship outfit Derby County. The Eagles lost a league encounter 2-0 when they last visited this stadium two months ago. I can’t see Crystal Palace causing upset, my money is on Wolves at even money.
Aston Villa 24/10 | Draw 26/10 | Liverpool 1/1
Liverpool will be looking to avenge their last two trips to Villa Park which left the Reds embarrassed. In the Premier League, Aston Villa wiped the floor with Jurgen Klopp’s troops in a 7-2 humbling three months ago, while the memory of a Neil Critchley led “B-team” that was on the receiving end of a 5-0 Carabao Cup loss with Klopp at the FIFA Club World Cup and Jack Grealish watching from the bench was a bitter sight for Liverpool fans. Aston Villa have impressed and were cruelly edged 2-1 by Man United, instead of picking a winner, back Both Teams to Score (Yes) at 5/10.
Saturday 9 January
Everton 4/10 | Draw 36/10 | Rotherham United 6/1
Everton are massive favourites to make it to the fourth round against struggling Championship club Rotherham United. The visitors have lost seven of the last nine matches which doesn’t give any indication of a possible upset. Take the Toffees at 4/10.
Bristol Rovers 7/2 | Draw 28/10 | Sheffield United 7/10
Bristol Rovers are enjoying an upturn in form following three victories from four games in League One that has seen the Pirates move off the foot of the table. Sheffield United have been woeful in the top-tier and will look to this game as an opportunity to put a smile on the faces of their fans. The Blades are desperate for the win and have more quality in their ranks, back Sheffield United at 7/10.
Stoke City 7/2 | Draw 51/20 | Leicester City 15/20
Stoke City come into the clash with just one win from the last seven games in the Championship, only finding the net three times in this run which is a worrying sign for the Potters. Leicester City have been excellent on their travels, claiming maximum points at Manchester City (2-5), Arsenal (0-1), Leeds United (1-4) and Tottenham (0-2). The Foxes are tipped confidently at 15/20.
Burnley 5/10 | Draw 32/10 | Milton Keynes Dons 47/10
Burnley will welcome Milton Keynes Dons to Turf Moor in full confidence. The Clarets are unbeaten in four home games, including three wins that has changed the fortunes of Sean Dyche’s men. Milton Keynes Dons are three points from the bottom of the League One table and will find it difficult in this clash. Burnley will not want to repeat last season’s failure of being knocked out in the third round by Norwich City. At 5/10, I’m backing the hosts.
Queens Park Rangers 39/20 | Draw 9/4 | Fulham 27/20
Queens Park Rangers are trying to get out of the Championship’s relegation zone and come into the clash with dreadful form – winless in nine matches, suffering five defeats. Fulham are struggling to compete in the Premier League but have shown encouraging signs in recent weeks with four draws on the bounce against tough opposition. The visitors enjoyed a decent FA Cup run that ended when they met Manchester City in last season’s fifth round. Fulham will have too much for QPR.
Blackpool 29/10 | Draw 26/10 | West Brom 8/10
Blackpool will welcome the return to Bloomfield Road after suffering back-to-back losses at Shrewsbury Town and Bristol Rovers in League One. The Tangerines have won five of the previous six home games under coach Critchley and will look to make history with a possible upset on the cards. West Bromwich Albion missed out on a quarter-final berth with a 3-2 defeat to Newcastle in last season’s FA Cup. The Baggies have drawn at Manchester City and Liverpool in recent weeks under Sam Allardyce, both by a 1-1 scoreline. The away win is a good bet at 8/10.
Arsenal 5/10 | Draw 34/10 | Newcastle United 5/1
Arsenal will be looking to begin the defence of their title as FA Cup champions by claiming a fifth straight victory over Newcastle United at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta’s Gunners seem to have turned a corner with the straight wins against Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom. Newcastle are struggling, the Magpies are winless in six games, including a 1-0 defeat to Brentford in the Carabao Cup. Add Arsenal to all weekend multiples at 5/10.
Brentford 21/20 | Draw 47/20 | Middlesbrough 49/20
Brentford were in stellar form, unbeaten in 16 games across all competitions at the time of writing prior to their back-to-back cup encounters against Tottenham and Middlesbrough. The Bees have lost just once in 14 games on home soil. Middlesbrough are enjoying an upturn in form – four wins from the last five matches. Neil Warnock’s teams are hard to break down and I’m expecting these sides to share the spoils at 47/20.
Southampton 3/10 | Draw 17/4 | Shrewsbury Town 15/2
Southampton will be aiming to better their performance of last season’s FA Cup where the Saints were knocked out by Tottenham in the fifth round. Shrewsbury Town stand little to no chance at St. Mary’s against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s well-drilled outfit. Home Win to Nil will add more value to your multiple at 21/20.
Manchester United 7/20 | Draw 4/1 | Watford 13/2
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will target the FA Cup as an opportunity to add the first piece silverware to Manchester United cabinet’s since taking charge at Old Trafford. The Reds are enjoying a purple patch in the league, winning eight times from 10 games. Watford were dumped out of last season’s FA Cup by minnows Tranmere Rovers and need to bring their A-game to stand a chance against in-form United. Take United on the (-1) Handicap at 17/20.
Sunday 10 January
Crawley Town 7/1 | Draw 4/1 | Leeds United 7/20
Crawley Town have the enviable task of hosting swashbuckling Leeds United. The hosts, nicknamed the Red Devils, face the Peacocks who were knocked out in the third round by eventual champions Arsenal last season. Marcelo Bielsa’s men will be aiming to thrash the League Two opposition, instead of picking a winner, get on Over 2.5 Goals at 5/10.
Manchester City 2/13 | Draw 6/1 | Birmingham City 15/1
Manchester City welcome struggling Championship club Birmingham City to the Etihad stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side have been quietly going about their business and have plenty of quality within their squad despite being hit with a number of players testing positive for COVID-19. Home Win to Nil is tipped confidently at 13/20.
Chelsea 1/14 | Draw 9/1 | Morecambe 25/1
Chelsea have an opportunity to turn their fortunes around by kick-starting a winning streak when League Two outfit Morecambe travel to west London. The Blues will ring the changes with the likes of Billy Gilmour and Callum Hudson-Odoi expected to make the starting XI. Over 2.5 Goals is the way to go at 1/4.
Newport County 52/10 | Draw 34/10 | Brighton 9/20
Newport County come into the clash winless in four games that has seen the Exiles slip off the summit in the League Two standings. Brighton showed a lot of character in their previous clash with Wolves where the Seagulls snatched a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw. I’m backing Graham Potter’s men to proceed to the fourth round.
QUAD TIPPED @ 15/2
Leicester City Win 15/20
Arsenal Win 5/10
Southampton Home Win to Nil 21/20
Crawley Town vs Leeds United Over 2.5 Goals 5/10
Written by Bryan Naicker