Sunday 8th January
Good day to you all. Rather than give you our usual razor-sharp thoughts on upcoming matches, we thought we’d take our boss’s advice and aim for brevity. That is, we’ll go for a short-sharp-shock approach toward Sunday’s FA Cup ties.
11.30 Cardiff v Fulham
Both these teams reside in the old English second division, more regularly referred to as the Championship these days. Both could recently claim the BPL (the old first division) as their primary address but alas, a combination of shoddy play on the pitch and in the boardroom have seen both relegated. Neither side have had a good season to this point; Cardiff have exactly half the points of league leaders Brighton and sit in 19th whereas Fulham have nine points more and sit in 10th.
In Cardiff’s favour, the last five games, home & away, have seen them pick up a bit of form (eight points from 15 isn’t great but it’s a big improvement!) and their last five home games have seen them pick up 10 points from the 15 available. They’ll feel relatively confident in welcoming Fulham across into Wales.
The visitors come into this tie off the back of a home defeat to the league leaders having led until the 74th minute. However disheartening that must have been, they can draw some comfort from the fact that their away form is amongst the best in the league. In fact, it’s considerably better than their home form. Only tow teams have score more away from home than Fulham have.
The market has Fulham as favourites here at about 6/4 with Cardiff at a price of 19/10 to win. There’s a good possibility that both teams will score so going along with the market’s preference for a Fulham win, we’d suggest something along the lines of 7/2 from PaddyPower for both teams to score and Fulham to win.
13.30 Liverpool v Plymouth
At the time of writing, we don’t how Liverpool with line out but judging by previous cup outings this season, it seems likely that the home team will field a very young side as Jurgen Klopp’s kids look to avail of a chance to impress their German boss. For Plymouth, this could be the high point for many of their player’s careers so we’d expect them to field a strong team.
The visitors will arrive at Anfield brimming with confidence. They will know that Liverpool are likely to field a whole heap of youngsters, albeit very talented ones, and will look to ‘get about them’ and make things very uncomfortable for their hosts. And they can back this confidence up as they are currently 2nd in League 2 (old 4th division). Granted, this is exactly four leagues beneath Liverpool’s current position but that won’t matter a jot to them.
All the pressure is on Liverpool. They are expected to win without too much hassle and this is reflected in the 22/1 price being offered in some quarters for a Plymouth win. This plays right into Plymouth’s hands and if they play with the requisite considered aggression, they will make things uncomfortable for Liverpool. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the hosts fall behind initially before their talent and/or substitutes bench makes the difference and gets the win. Another bet along the lines of both to score with Liverpool to win has a price of 2/1 from WilliamHill and seems the best value around.
15.00 Chelsea v Peterborough
Hmm, a bit of a puzzler this one, isn’t it? Exactly how many words can we get out about this particular tie? Not many, one might suggest. Everyone knows about Chelsea. True, they come into this tie off the back of a loss but that was their first one in the league since September – every other match in the league was a win. Peterborough are 6th in League 1 (old 3rd division), score a lot of goals, have a good defence and haven’t been beaten in any competition since November. Game on!
Really, though, even with their recent run of good form, there can be little chance of anything other than a home win. Antonio Conte will likely make a whole raft of changes to the Chelsea team but there won’t be the necessary drop-off in quality required for Peterborough to get anything other than a spirited loss. They’ll be hoping to at least better the result from the last time the two teams met in the FA Cup – that result ended 5-0 in Chelsea’s favour.
It goes without saying that Chelsea are strong favourites at about 2/11; in other words, it’s hardly worth your time. In terms of bets that might be of interest to you, how about the Half Time/Full Time BetVictor are offering at 15/4 for Draw/Chelsea?
16.00 Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa
Arguably the biggest tie of the day, Spurs host the recently relegated Aston Villa. The visitors have been through two managers since last they played in the BPL and now have Steve Bruce at the helm. He has steadied their previously poor form since he took the reins but they’re still struggling for consistency. Spurs have won their last five matches so they’re not.
After a strong start to the season, Spurs rapidly fell off the pace with a slew of draws and relatively flat performances. They’ve picked themselves up, however, and are now arguably the form team in the BPL. Five wins from five has seen them score 15 and concede just three. Over the same period, Villa have scored four and conceded four.
Expect wholesale changes from the hosts but as you do, expect that that those drafted in will be doing their utmost to impress their manager with an eye to more regular involvement in the first team. Steve Bruce is a wily old fox and has enjoyed good cup runs with some of his previous clubs. He is from a time when the FA Cup was taken extremely seriously and although his primary focus must surely be the league, he’ll be pushing his players to go for the win.
The best of intentions are likely to count for little. Villa do have the players who can cause Spurs problems and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them score, especially if Spurs play the calamitous Kevin Wimmer in defence. However, in as much as the FA Cup might be viewed as a distraction by a club with Spurs’ current ambitions, they have enough quality to beat their visitors. For shits and giggles, the Half Time/Full Time price of 25/1 on Aston Villa/Spurs is well worth a look.