There were few shocks in the last round of the F.A. Cup, although there were a few shocks with our Best Bets last week: we nailed a few Premier League winning selections!
The FA Cup returns this weekend, with all 16 fourth-round ties taking place between Friday and Sunday.
Our team has taken the time to analyse the six televised games taking place, providing you with a few tips along the way.
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Complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, we take a glance at the televise F.A. Cup Fourth round matches this weekend…
DERBY v LEICESTER
Championship Derby (8/5) have been rock-solid at home. The Championship side conceded twice to Reading last weekend, but it was the first time since September 24 that they had conceded a goal at Pride Park.
They went on to win 3-2 and are nicely settled in seventh place, well within shouting distance of their playoff rivals. Steve McClaren’s side has only conceded seven goals in 14 home games and the Rams won half of those encounters.
Derby won 2-1 at Premier League West Brom in the previous round, so the stuttering champions of England should hold few fears.
However, Leicester (17/10) have held sway over the Rams in the past few seasons. Winning eight of the last nine games, Derby’s sole success was a 2-1 win in the Championship back in March 2013. Positive results have been common in their meetings, too, with just five of the last 31 clashes ending in stalemate.
Leicester may well be struggling at the moment. Their away form is dreadful, taking just three points from a possible 33 on their EPL travels. Furthermore, they have yet to register a road win and have notched just eight times in those 11 games.
Derby will have their tails up, but something tells us that the relief of playing in the FA Cup, away from the constant pressure at both ends of the table in the last 18 months, will be just what the Foxes and Claudio Ranieri need. We take City to edge it with Jamie Vardy possibly enjoying the spotlight again.
VERDICT: DERBY 0 LEICESTER 2 @ 12/1
BEST BET: J VARDY ANYTIME SCORER @ 13/8
LIVERPOOL v WOLVES
Liverpool (1/4) may have suffered a hammer blow to their Premier League title chances last weekend, in going down to a shock 3-2 loss at home to struggling Swansea. Jurgen Klopp’s side now trail Chelsea by 10 points and with the two Manchester clubs chasing hard, there is no guarantee of European football next season.
They have plenty of issues at the back, which is a bit of a recurring theme over the past few seasons and have shipped 12 more goals than Chelsea. Their away form has also been better than it has been at home, even though the Reds’ loss to the Swans was their first at Anfield for over 12 months. They have won one of their last seven in all competitions at home and had to go to Plymouth to sneak through 1-0 in a replay after their FA Cup third round tie ended goalless at Anfield.
They have missed Sadio Mane, who has been ruled out since January 2, while influential midfielder Philippe Coutinho has only recently returned from a six-week lay-off with an ankle ligament injury and Joel Matip has only just rejoined the defence. The problems are not all about individuals, however. They look vulnerable when the ball is pumped into the box.
Having had a gruelling League Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton on Wednesday – and suffering another bitter home defeat – many will fancy Wolves’ (9/1) chances of causing an upset.
Wanderers sit 18th in the Championship, but dumped out Stoke in the last round and turned over Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago. While they went down 3-1 at Norwich, Paul Lambert had to use all three subs by the time keeper Carl Ikeme had been sent off for a push on Wes Hoolihan. In Wanda Helder Costa, they have a striker who can cause plenty of problems for Liverpool. Indeed, we see Wolves notching at least once at Anfield.
However, it is unlikely that Klopp (below) will make wholesale changes and take the visitors lightly, so we plump for a home win with Wolves suffering a backlash for the Reds’ League Cup exit.
VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 3 WOLVES 1 @ 10/1
BEST BET: LIVERPOOL WIN & BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 15/8
SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL
Arsenal (11/10) do not have particularly fond memories of recent trips to St Mary’s. In fact they have won just one of their last six trips to the south coast and have won just three of the last 10 meetings with the Southampton (12/5) in all competitions. They have failed to register a goal in four of the last five clashes, too.
So, do we sniff an upset?
This has come at the wrong time for the Saints, who are victims of their own success, having had to face Liverpool at Anfield in midweek. Though they won 1-0 to reach their first domestic final since 2003, that game will have taken plenty out of Cluade Puel’s side. They will no doubt be aching from that clash (celebratory hangovers aside) and possibly from laughing so hard at West Ham paying £8m for 33-year-old defender Jose Fonte last week.
Saints are going nowhere in mid-table, so the Cup competitions are a nice distraction, but we feel this could be one game too many.
Arsenal are still in the hunt for the title after an unconvincing 2-1 win at home to Burnley, but the fact that Danny Welback (below) is up and running again means Wenger will have plenty of firepower at his disposal, particularly with Olivier Giroud in fine form.
We take the Gunners to get a least a draw out of this and while they are short enough at 21/20 to win, Saints could be running on empty by the second half.
VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 1 ARSENAL 4 @ 33/1
BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 4/6
MILLWALL v WATFORD
Millwall (2/1) caused a big shock in the third round, knocking out Premier League Bournemouth in convincing style. However, Eddie Howe made so many changes that Millwall should really have been heavy favourites, rather than the outsiders they were.
Watford (11/8) will not be such easy prey for the Lions. Indeed, they have a horrible record against the Hornets, who have lost twice in the last 16 meetings, winning 10. In fact, Watford have lost just once in their last eight trips to The New Den, which would have become the old New Den if Lewisham Council had not backtracked on their Compulsory Purchase Order plans this week.
The League One side may be just three points off the play-off places and that is where their priorities lay, but while their home form has seen them win seven of 13 and aside from their win over Bournemouth, they have yet to win in January, notching draws at AFC Wimbledon, Charlton and Bradford City. To be fair, they have not lost, either.
Watford’s campaign has been beset by injuries and they have not won in seven league games. Yet there were signs at Bournemouth last weekend that Walter Mazzarri’s (below) side were ready to bounce back. Despite their rather generous odds of 11/8 – which often sets alarm bells ringing – we see the Hornets as one of the better bets this weekend.
VERDICT: MILLWALL 0 WATFORD 2 @ 10/1
BEST BET: WATFORD TO WIN @ 11/8
SUTTON v LEEDS
National League Sutton (4/1) set up a tasty TV tie after knocking out 10-man AFC Wimbledon with a 3-1 win at The Cherry Road Stadium in a replay.
Leeds (4/6), who last won this competition on 1972 under Don Revie, should be a couple of classes apart and having been given a scare by Cambridge United, they won’t take this game lightly.
Garry Monk, who was harshly dispensed with by Swansea, has got ‘dirty’ Leeds playing some attractive football and they are in the thick of the play-off battle in the Championship. While they could have done without a midweek clash with Nottingham Forest (which they won 2-0 to put them third in the table), they should get through this tie without too much fuss, nice story though it is.
VERDICT: SUTTON 0 LEEDS 4 @ 22/1
BEST BET: LEEDS TO WIN @ 4/6
MAN UTD v WIGAN
If there was a ‘form’ game that we could consider to be a banker, then this is it. Wigan (14/1) have won a grand total of one meeting in the last 18 against Manchester United (1/6) – who have won the other 17 clashes. Just the recipe for a shock result, then?
Not quite. If history is anything to go by, they will not only fail to score – as has happened in eight of the last nine encounters – they will lose by at least two clear goals, as has been the case in 14 of their last 18 meetings. In fact, Wigan have managed just one goal in their last 10 visits to Old Trafford. Oddly, there has not been a draw and the law of betting averages says we are overdue. But given the history, we’d want double the 6/1 currently offered for that to happen.
Much depends on the strength of the United side that Jose Mourinho (above) will put out. He has already made noises this week about fixture congestion, and it has not helped that United had to travel to Hull for League Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday. They are, of course, in the Europa League, so how much emphasis they place on this competition is arguable.
Still, we are happy to roll with the hosts, whatever side the Special One puts out.
VERDICT: MAN UTD 4 WIGAN 0 @ 15/2
BEST BET: ONE OR OTHER FAILS TO SCORE @ 4/7
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