FA Cup 4th RoundFriday, January 26 2018
I’ve shamelessly handpicked a smattering of cup ties I happen to give a sweet FA about. But don’t forget, BaDMeN - picking and choosing what we bet on is our biggest advantage over the bookies. That poor sucker has to be on EVERY match…
The Tap Ins are included regardless of price, so I’d reserve them for topping up Accas at best. Or even bypass them totally.
The Smart Money bets are the best way of dredging a bit of value from the match. And any Long Shots are decent priced (usually 3/1 or bigger) punts that have some statistical merit.
I’ve included prices on my Scorecasts too. Two a week is likely to cover your stakes if you’re backing them all. Three and the Milky Bars are on you.
Yeovil Town v Man United
Some classic ‘magic of the cup’ fodder here. Fourth bottom in League Two plays second in the Premier League… Yeovil’s squad cost £65 and United’s cost a squillion pounds… blah blah blah. If I could get Even Money on somebody comparing Yeovil’s annual wage bill with what Alexis Sanchez throws away per week (or something), I would bet the farm on it. But to business…
We know what happens here – Yeovil huff and puff, are brave and heroic. But ultimately United’s class shows through. Expect plenty of big hitters to make the trip, the FA Cup could be important to Jose this season.
Tap in: United Win – 1/7
Smart Money: United Win & Under 3.5 Goals – 21/20
Scorecast: An efficient 0-3 – 5/1
Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City
The FA Cup won’t be a priority for Huddersfield, but likewise it could be a source of welcome high notes in a season which could get sticky in the coming months. They have been pretty efficient at home to the PL’s Bottom Six and won’t want to go into fixtures with Liverpool and Man United (up next) on the back of a cup shock.
This won’t be a priority for Birmingham either, avoiding the drop to League One – the Last Rites for many a ‘big’ club – is much more important. The Blues have taken just 7pts from 14 away games, but only once shipped more than two.
Tap in: Huddersfield Win – 8/11
Smart Money: Huddersfield Win to Nil – 6/4
Scorecast: A steady 2-0.
Middlesbrough v Brighton
Hmm, there could be a bit of value on offer here. The bookies makes Middlesbrough favourites based on their decent home record and Brighton’s shocking away form. And the Home Win is the Racing Post's Banker of the Week. But I’m going the other way…
A closer look at Boro’s numbers revelas just 5pts from 11 matches v teams above them. Which, let’s not forget, Brighton are. Against the Bottom Nine, Boro are almost perfect – 10 wins (and a draw) from 11. Which tells me they punch effectively below their weight, but rely on scratching and pulling hair above it.
Brighton travel badly and have bigger fish to fry – including a south coast derby on Wednesday. But are always set up well and haven’t conceded more than twice on the road - including trips to Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man United. So I think they will edge this.
Tap in: Under 2.5 Goals – 1/2
Smart Money: Brighton & Under 3.5 Goals – 29/10
Long Shot: Draw/ Brighton HT/FT – 6/1
Scorecast: A tight squeak but 0-1 – 7/1
Newport County v Tottenham
Spurs play Man United on Wednesday. Then Liverpool, then Arsenal, then Juventus. So safe to say Moussa Sissoko will be starting this match. But the FA Cup could be an important competition for Tottenham, especially if a Top Four places slips out of reach. So the question is, can a second string Spurs team still get past Newport County..?
The League Two outfit have only lost twice at home this season (although one was v Barnet, currently bottom of the whole world). They’re in their best form so the season too, winning four of the last five. But the key stats for me is that they’ve conceded in nine of their 14 home matches. So Tottenham’s reserves should outscore them.
Tap in: Tottenham Win – 2/11
Smart Money: Tottenham Win & Under 3.5 Goals – 5/4
Long Shot: Draw/ Tottenham HT/ FT – 3/1
Scorecast: Two should do so 0-2 – 11/2
Liverpool v West Brom
I fancy Liverpool for the FA Cup this season. Just close your eyes for a second and imagine Jurgen’s big grin as he is interviewed on the Wembley pitch amidst a shower of red and white confetti… Ooh, here comes that scamp Mo Salah squirting a water bottle at the camera… and he’s only gone and put the cup lid on his head!!!
You with me?
Anyway, with their customary blip out of the way (at Swansea last week) the only wrinkle in my forehead is the Tuesday encounter at Huddersfield, which could affect their line-up.
I daresay the Baggies would swap midweek features – they are at Man City – and need PL status much more than a cup run, so I think they will set up to win this. Shit or bust. And I’m backing bust.
Tap in: Liverpool to Win – 1/3
Smart Money: Liverpool Win & Under 3.5 Goals – 2/1
Scorecast: A competitive 2-1
Chelsea v Newcastle United
At the risk of sounding like a broken record – or a dirty CD, or corrupted download, or whatever da kidz listen to these days – the importance of the FA Cup could increase incrementally with Chelsea’s stumbling PL form. All is clearly not well if they are seriously trying to pouch Peter Crouch – if that happens, I’m getting my boots out the loft by the way… But players tend to win tournaments and I’d suggest Chelsea have the talent and temperament better suited to winning Cups than Leagues right now. Plus nine wins from nine with 27 scored and just two conceded says Newcastle will be concentrating on the league come Sunday. Particularly if Chelsea start like they against Arsenal in midweek.
Tap in: Chelsea Win – 4/9
Smart Money: Chelsea Win & Under 3.5 Goals – 5/4
Scorecast: A routine 2-0 – 6/1
Cardiff City v Man City
If anyone needed proof of City’s ability to move through the gears at will, then the 2-0 up, back to 2-2, then 2-3 ahead win at Bristol City was it. So their ability to outscore Cardiff isn’t in question. It’s the home team that are the variable in this equation.
One home win in four isn’t too pretty, but we can put two defeats down to, ahem, Christmas fatigue… Otherwise the Bluebirds are flying high in the Championship based chiefly on a powerful home record and Neil Warnock’s effective, industrial football. They won’t outplay City, that’s for shiz.
Tap in: Man City to Win – 1/4
Smart Money: City Win & Both Teams to Score – 9/5
Long Shot: Raheem Sterling Last Goal – 10/3
Scorecast: A hard fought 1-3 – 10/1
Here’s to a sweet FA Cup weekend.
Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.
Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.
Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.