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We look to continue our good run with our football selections and, complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, take a glance at some of the big matches in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup this weekend…
DERBY v MAN UTD
You want to know what really happened to Jurgen Klopp’s glasses – they were stolen by Louis van Gaal’s minion. Klopp appears to understand that square pegs fit in square holes.
One example: Brendan Rodgers insisted Emre Can was a defender and after the Liverpool boss was replaced by Klopp, the German quickly saw that the talented youngster should be playing in a more nature midfield role.
You can see it and we can see it, but it appears that Manchester United (1.95) manager Van Gaal has a bit of trouble when it comes to Marouane Fellaini, who is many things, but central midfielder is not one of them. The embattled Dutchman needs the same vision as Klopp if he is to remain in his position.
The return of Bastian Schweinsteiger would certainly help United. He has been missing for a few weeks, but he should be fit to face Championship side Derby in the first of the FA Cup Fourth Round ties on Friday.
Both teams suffered losses last time. United slumped to an eighth defeat of the season, going down 1-0 at home to Southampton and worryingly failing to register a worthwhile chance throughout.
Derby (4.00) were woeful as they lost 4-1 at Burnley on Monday night, leaving them fifth in the table.
It is natural that some players would not want to risk injury before such a big game and although taking nothing away from in-form Burnley, it was still a performance devoid of confidence form Paul Clement’s side.
Derby have lost just twice at home in 14 outings this season but have managed just two wins over United in their last 15 meetings and two home wins over the Red Devils’ last 17 visits.
Goals are usually on the menu – eight of the last 11 meetings yielded three goals or more and we see that more likely than not this time.
United have drawn on five of their last nine trips to Derby but plenty points to United bouncing back. [SM]
VERDICT: DERBY 1 MAN UTD 3 @ 17.00
BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.20
COLCHESTER v TOTTENHAM
Tottenham (1.40) really are in a rich vein of form of late. The North Londoners have only lost in one of their last nine games and battled to a vital away win at Crystal Palace last weekend after a goal-of-the-season contender from Dele Alli.
Their Fourth Round opponents Colchester (8.00) are having a tough time of it. The League One strugglers have only managed to win once in their last nine games – a victory against Charlton in the last round of this competition.
Harry Kane is a man in form. The prolific England striker has scored 13 league goals so far this season, which is made even more impressive when you consider his slow start to the season. If risked, we expect Kane to take advantage of a Colchester defence that has leaked a staggering 65 league goals already this season – making him a great first goal-scorer selection, especially with the Dubble Bubble/Hat-Trick Fan-Tastic offer available with My Club Betting.
As well as having the worst defensive record in League One, Colchester are also a side struggling for goals. The U’s have only scored 36 league goals this season, netting just three times in their last six League One games.
That stat, coupled with Tottenham’s fantastic defensive record leads us to believe that this will be comfortable for the visitors and we fancy them to win without conceding here. [CC]
VERDICT: COLCHESTER 0 TOTTENHAM 2 @ 7.00
BEST BET: TOTTENHAM WIN TO NIL @ 2.30
ARSENAL v BURNLEY
Arsenal (1.40) have really struggled for form since beating Sunderland in the last round. Arsene Wenger’s men followed their 3-1 home win in early January with draws against Liverpool and Stoke before losing at home to bitter rivals Chelsea last time.
Burnley (8.00) are currently the in-form side in the Championship. Sean Dyche’s side find themselves just one place below the automatic promotion positions after their rampant 4-1 win over Derby on Monday evening.
Alexis Sanchez returned to the Arsenal first team against Chelsea on Sunday. The influential Chilean winger spent more than two months on the side line with a hamstring injury and, in truth, Arsenal don’t look the same without him in the side. Sanchez offers a pacy, direct threat, favouring long dribbles over sideways passing, which is something the Gunners were really lacking in his absence.
Burnley reached the Fourth Round after an impressive away win against league rivals Middleborough. Wingers George Boyd and Michael Kightly have looked particularly threatening this season, linking successfully with top scorer Andre Gray on numerous occasions since his arrival in the summer.
Both sides are among the highest scorers in their respective leagues and we see this being reflected in Saturday’s score line.
We fancy a high scoring home win at The Emirates. [CC]
VERDICT: ARSENAL 3 BURNLEY 1 @ 11.00
BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.70
ASTON VILLA v MAN CITY
Remi Garde’s first game in charge of Aston Villa (5.25) saw his side battle to a home draw against Saturday’s opponents. However, it has all been downhill since then for the former Lyon boss. Villa are rock bottom of the Premier League after winning only two league games all season.
Manchester City (1.67) have recovered from a mid-season blip and now find themselves within touching distance of league leaders Leicester. City are the most prolific club in England’s top division, scoring 45 league goals already this season.
In the last round, Villa needed a replay to overcome Wycombe Wanderers – a side THREE divisions below them. Although the Midlands club eventually ran out 2-0 winners in the replay, they were far from convincing. Villa needed two goals in the last 15 minutes to overcome their lower league opponents after looking nervy throughout the game.
Kevin De Bruyne has settled back into English football seamlessly. The former Chelsea midfielder arrived from Wolfsburg for £55m in the summer and has made an instant impact at his new club. The Belgian international has scored five times and made nine assists since arriving, becoming a huge favourite amongst the City faithful.
Villa have won just one of the last seven meeting between these sides and, in truth, we see City being too strong again on Saturday. [CC]
VERDICT: ASTON VILLA 0 MAN CITY 2 @ 7.50
BEST BET: MAN CITY TO WIN @ 1.67
PORTSMOUTH v BOURNEMOUTH
These two South Coast sides are separated by just 50 miles and Saturday’s game will be their first meeting since the Cherries 1-0 League Cup win back in 2013.
Past winners Portsmouth (2.88) are flying high in League Two at the moment and caused arguably the biggest shock of the Third Round by beating Championship side Ipswich a week ago.
Bournemouth (2.40) will be prioritising Premier League survival, so we really wouldn’t be surprised to see changes from Eddie Howe on Saturday.
Portsmouth striker Matt Tubbs spent much of his career with Saturday’s opponents. The striker started his career at hometown club, before leaving to make his name at Crawley Town. Tubbs then returned to Bournemouth in 2012 to help the club win promotion to League One.
Another man who will be facing his former side in this tie is Eddie Howe. Harry Redknapp purchased the now Bournemouth boss for £400,000 in 2002. However, his spell at the club ended unsuccessfully. Howe made just two league appearances for Pompey, and after two loan spells away from the club, Howe returned to Bournemouth in 2004.
Portsmouth have scored in four of their last five games, while Bournemouth have scored in all of their last four.
Due to the Bournemouth’s probable squad rotation, we can’t split these two and see a scoring draw being played out at Fratton Park on Saturday. [CC]
VERDICT: PORTSMOUTH 1 BOURNEMOUTH 1 @ 6.00
BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.80
MK DONS v CHELSEA
Guus Hiddink is doing a fine job, with Chelsea (1.30) still unbeaten since his arrival at the club. The Blues earned a vital win away at Arsenal last weekend – however, they did face 10 men for the majority of the game after an early Per Mertesacker sending off.
MK Dons (9.50) are hovering above the relegation zone in their inaugural Championship campaign, after winning just seven league games so far. This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs, although Chelsea did do battle with Wimbledon and the ‘Crazy Gang’ on numerous occasions.
Diego Costa has looked like a man possessed since Jose Mourinho left the club in December. After struggling for goals in the early part of the season, Costa has turned things around under the guidance of Hiddink. The Brazilian-born, Spanish international has netted in four of his last five appearances and was particularly impressive in their game against Arsenal last time out.
The Dons needed a replay to overcome League Two side Northampton Town in the last round, and in truth Chelsea just look too strong for the hosts.
Everything points to a comfortable away win here. [CC]
VERDICT: MK DONS 0 CHELSEA 2 @ 6.50
BEST BET: CHELSEA/CHELSEA (HT/FT) @ 1.90
NOTTM FOREST v WATFORD
This is one of the more intriguing ties of the Fourth Round, with both sides going well in the Championship and Premier League respectively.
Forest (2.87) are toddling along in 11th place, eight points off the play-off places, having gone on a 12-match unbeaten run that included a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in the Third Round. They have not been beaten since November 21 when losing 2-1 at Brentford.
Watford (2.50) have enjoyed more highs than lows since returning to the top flight, although they have suffered a dip in form in recent weeks, going five league games without a win before beating Newcastle 2-1 at home last weekend. Coincidentally, they put Newcastle out of the FA Cup in the last round, having also turned them over in the reverse League fixture in September.
Watford have looked tired in recent weeks and it is conceivable that their tough Christmas period, playing the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City within the space of eight days, was a major reason for the dip in form.
Watford have bought reinforcements since, with Nordin Amrabat arriving from Malaga for £6m and goalkeeper Costel Pantillimon arriving from Sunderland (2.5) land as cover for Heurelho Gomes. They may well bring in a central midfielder before the transfer window closes on Monday.
Games between these two have been evenly split in recent years, with each winning five times and drawing five times. Watford have lost just three of their last 12 visits to the City Ground, however, and they should be good enough to earn a replay. [SM]
VERDICT: NOTTM FOREST 1 WATFORD 1 @ 6.00
BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SORE @ 1.91
LIVERPOOL v WEST HAM
With just one win at Anfield since 1963 and seeking an unprecedented third successive win against Liverpool, the odds are stacked against West Ham in their FA Cup Fourth Round clash. Or they should be. The bookies, strangely, think otherwise.
True, the Hammers have won both League meetings this season, beating them 3-0 at Anfield and 2-0 at Upton Park. But Liverpool are on a high following their dramatic 5-4 win at Norwich – celebrated as though it was a Cup final – and reaching the League Cup final in midweek (on penalties… surprise, surprise!).
Defensively Liverpool (2.00) look shaky and Jurgen Klopp will doubtless but reinforcements in the summer, but going forward they are always a threat and this looks a game which will be all about the first goal. If Liverpool get their noses in front, they won’t look back. If West Ham (3.80) score, they can punish the Reds on the break.
Liverpool look a good bet to score the first goal at 1.60 and that is a massive price. West Ham, who lost on penalties to Liverpool in the 2006 FA Cup Final, have failed to score in four of their last six trips to Anfield.
Despite their good early-season from, which brought them victories at Manchester City, Liverpool Arsenal and Crystal Palace, West Ham have won one of their last seven away games since October 17 and they were under fire for long periods before beating Bournemouth 3-1 on January 12.
West Ham have injury problems up front and will again be without Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll. They are attempting to bring in a striker on loan, as Nikica Jelavic can no longer be considered an effective forward at this level and he will likely be shipped out after the season is over.
Liverpool may be mentally fatigued after two emotionally-draining back-to-back games, but they are fantastic value to beat the Hammers. In fact, we’d go so far as saying they are the best bet of the weekend. [SM]
VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 3 WEST HAM 0 @ 13.00
BEST BET: LIVERPOOL TO WIN 2.00
CRYSTAL PALACE v STOKE
Despite losing 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace (2.15) and failing to win for the sixth successive League game last weekend, they played well. Aside from two wonder goals, they gave as good as they got and were unlucky not to take all three points.
Stoke (3.60) cannot play anywhere near as poorly as they did in losing 3-0 at Leicester last weekend, where they rested a few players as they had the League Cup semi-final second leg at Liverpool just a few days after that.
The loss of Ryan Shawcross to injury is a major blow to the Potters. He is the lynch-pin in defence and will miss the next few weeks with a back injury. Since returning from surgery on his back in October, Stoke have lost only five times in all competitions.
The good news is that midfielder Geoff Cameron (ankle) may return after missing last Saturday’s defeat and the midweek League Cup trip to Anfield.
Palace are struggling for goals, particularly from their strikers. In fact, they have benefitted from own goals as much as they have from their marksman, who have scored a total of one goal between them in the Premier League. They are also suddenly leaking goals, having conceded 11 in their four Premier League games this year, but netting only once (and that was an own goal against Spurs).
Stoke have conceded two or more goals in four of their last five Premier League road games, but they have lost just once on their last five trips to Selhurst Park.
This all-Premier League tie is one of the more attractive games of the weekend and with Palace due to win again and Stoke suffering an emotional let-down after their exploits at Anfield on Tuesday, we take the hosts to sneak it. [SM]
VERDICT: CRYSTAL PALACE 2 STOKE 1 @ 9.00
BEST BET: PALACE TO SCORE FIRST @ 1.83
CARLISLE v EVERTON
Carlisle (6.50) returned home to Brunton Park last week, having re-laid the pitch following the horrendous flooding in Cumbria. The hosts were held 1-1 by York on their first match on home soil for two months.
The Blues have been in enforced exile after the floods caused by Storm Desmond in November left their ground unplayable, with United having to stage ‘home’ matches at Blackburn, Preston and Blackpool.
Carlisle have done remarkably well, given their circumstances. Currently, they sit tenth in League Two, just three points outside the playoff places.
Everton (1.44) have been disappointing. They appear to lack a bit of backbone, having lost frequently from winning positions and are giving away too many silly goals.
They were booed off at half-time and again at the final whistle in their 2-1 home defeat by Swansea and they have conceded 22 goals in 12 games Goodison Park. That defeat was the worst kind of preparation for their midweek League Cup semi-final trip to Manchester City.
But despite the pressure they are under at home, they may play with a little more freedom at Brunton Park.
Carlisle have won two of their three previous meetings, but the last time the pair met was in the FA Cup in 2010 and Everton ran out 3-1 winners at Goodison.
This has the potential to be one of the shocks of the round – Particularly after Everton’s draining Midweek League Cup semi-final second leg at Manchester City – but we see the visitors having too much class and they should go through confortably enough with Romelu Lukaku a fair bet to score first.
Don’t forget, if he scores again, you can take advantage of our Dubble-Bubble offer, where you get double the odds if he scores a second. [SM]
VERDICT: CARLISLE 1 EVERTON 2 @ 8.50
BEST BET: HT/FT = DRAW/EVERTON @ 4.33
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