So – the 5th round of the FA Cup and there are some fascinating games on show. There are some good ties between Premier League and Championship sides, and also a few all-Premier League games. The mis-match of the round is Shrewsbury vs Man Utd, but with the Red Devils playing like they are, it could be interesting.
For me, stats go out the window and it’s all about who will be better on the day. Premier League sides like Arsenal, Man City and Spurs might rest players as all of them have European games in the next week. Other clubs like Watford, Bournemouth and WBA might well rest a few to make sure they survive in the Premier League.
So – 8 games. I have picked a few larger odds for a couple of the games, such as Win + BTTS, mainly between Premier League and Championship as I feel with a mix of rested players and the opportunity for the smaller club to go into the next round – they should be good games:
Arsenal vs Hull: BTTS @ 19/20 (1245 KO)
Arsenal have a tough game coming up in midweek, and I believe they will rotate. After hearing Wenger’s comments about keeping the Replay’s because PL sides have big squads – he will demonstrate it and give the likes of Walcott and Ox a runout, possibly with the likes of Gibbs and Chambers. Hull will be missing on-loan Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom, but still boast a very impressive and dangerous team capable of scoring – Abel Hernandez the main threat. Arsenal have always shown weaknesses at the back in the last 10 years, and with Bayern in mind, we could see an under-par performance.
Reading vs West Brom: WBA Win + BTTS @ 11/2 (1500 KO)
Reading are a team that are very good at home – scoring plenty in their last 5, but also drawing 2 games 0-0. West Brom on the other hand are struggling in the league, but scoring freely in the Cup. With Saido Berahino likely to feature, and a mish-mash of second-string players likely to play some part – I expect a disjointed display between the two, but plenty of goals.
Watford vs Leeds: Over 2.5 Goals @ 1/1 (1500 KO)
These two have a long history of goals between them in their recent meetings. 3-2 and 4-1 in the Championship last season, while in preceding years there have been scored of 3-0, 3-3 and 2-1. Watford might take the chance to rest a few, while Leeds should be at full strength as promotion is a mile off. Alex Mowatt and Lee Cook are two talented lads that Leeds have on their books, and could make an impact on it.
Bournemouth vs Everton: Everton Win @ 13/10 (1730 KO)
This was a classic match earlier in the season, ending 3-3. Both have gone a little downhill since, and both are entirely unpredictable. Everton had over 30 shots against West Brom last weekend but could not score. With new-signing Oumar Niasse waiting in the wings for his first start, I think he will feature, and possibly score looking at the Bournemouth back four. Others such as Gerard Delofeu should start, so for me Everton are the dangerous side. Bournemouth could rotate a few players, and we might see a start for Juan Iturbe – the Argentine winger on loan from Roma. I can’t see past a win for the Toffee’s. 13/10 a good price.
Blackburn vs West Ham: West Ham Win @ 11/8 (1400 KO)
Sunday’s first game see’s West Ham travel to Ewood Park in what should be a close encounter. Blackburn have scored 7 and conceded 8 in their last 10 home games – losing 3 and drawing the majority. Without Jordan Rhodes they have struggled to find the net, and despite having a decent all-round team should be powerless to stop West Ham, who disposed of Liverpool in the last round. Neither will want a replay with fixtures piling up – so I think it will be done in one leg, one way or another. 2-0 to West Ham my prediction, but the win @ 11/8 good value.
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace: BTTS @ 1/1 (1500 KO)
This will be an interesting one. A team in form (Spurs) who are competing in 3 competitions and realistically have a chance of winning any of them. However they need to prioritise. Their squad isn’t huge, so dropping out of one is needed if they want to go for the others. The FA Cup could be the one Spurs won’t mind crossing off the list as the Europa League and Premier League are the bigger fish they want to fry. They play Fiorentina again Thursday, and having just played a few days ago I can see the likes of Harry Kane coming back in, but the likes of Eriksen and Alderweireld might not be able to play 3 games in 7 days, with another 2 Premier League games coming the following 5/6 days after that period.
Palace on the other hand are dreadfully out of form. A host of losses has led to a severe drop down the table, and although not in any real danger, a run in the Cup wouldn’t go amiss, and Alan Pardew is one who enjoys the traditions of the FA Cup and is likely to go with a full strength team. Will Adebayor come back to haunt his old club? It’s the type of thing he does. With changes likely for Spurs, I think Palace will see a chink in the armour and go for it. I like BTTS @ 1/1.
Chelsea vs Man City: BTTS @ 4/5 (1600 KO)
With Chelsea’s first leg out of the way, and Man City’s long trip to Ukraine still to come on Wednesday, Pellegrini has already stated that the FA Cup will hit the backburner, and with those comments in mind I see a few changes and the likes of Kompany and Aguero not risked. No matter who they put out, they will put up a good fight and with Chelsea likely to field a good 11, it should be a very close game. Frailties do not go away easily, so I see mistakes all-round for both sides and with that a potential score-draw. It might not be ideal for either side, but between a weakened City, and a dodgy defending Chelsea – I see a replay looming, but both scoring. BTTS @ 4/5
Shrewsbury vs Man Utd: BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/5 (1945 KO)
The last of the games is a showdown between League One’s Shrewsbury Town and Premier League side Man Utd. With United in action again Thursday night, and injury problems mounting all over the pitch – a lot of youth players might be used. On a poorer surface than they are used to, and up against hardened lower league players – I feel they will struggle, and possibly losing. I’m going for BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/5 – I think the home side will get under the skin of the kids on show and really give it to them. I think both will score, but if you ask who will score most…I really wouldn’t want to guess. A real testament to how far the mighty have fallen in two short years.
Overall – I think it will be a fascinating weekend and one full of twists and turns. Both Arsenal and Man Utd could forfeit to lower league opposition, and with Europe in mind Spurs and Man City could slip up. From the 8 above, here is what I fancy for a 4 fold accumulator:
- Shrewsbury-Man Utd BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/5
- West Ham Win @ 11/8
- Watford-Leeds Over 2.5 Goals @ 1/1
- Everton Win @ 13/10
That pays around 25/1, depending on who you bet with. If you can’t get the market for Man Utd vs Shrewsbury, a simple BTTS is nearly as good price wise.
Best of luck