The FA Cup third round takes place this weekend, promising big matches, tales of giant killing and maybe just a little romance in the cynical world of football.
But, does the FA Cup hold any winning opportunities this weekend or is it going to be the cause of many a busted betting slip?
Friday Night Banana Skin
The bookmakers will hope a number of coupons are sunk before a ball is even kicked on Saturday when Liverpool host League One side Oldham Athletic on Friday night.
Of course, a home win should be a formality but Liverpool have been out of sorts recently. You are not going to get much better than 1.13 (Boylesports) on Liverpool which on a cold, windswept evening game against an unknown quantity playing the game of their careers, does not scream “value” to me.
One to avoid I think.
A number of fixtures taking place this weekend look difficult to call, so there could be plenty of opportunities for punters willing to back the draw. Here, I have identified eight matches which could require replays. Home advantage can be a great leveller for sides playing a division below their opponents while out of form sides taking on opposition from a division below can also be held over 90 minutes.
Birmingham City vs Wolves @ 3.3 (Bet Victor)
Dagenham & Redbridge vs Millwall @ 3.6 (Betfred)
Barnsley vs Swansea @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)
Doncaster Rovers vs Notts County @ 3.4 (Ladbrokes)
Hull City vs Ipswich Town @ 3.75 (Bet Victor)
MK Dons vs Queens Park Rangers @ 3.3 (Sky Bet)
Nottingham Forest vs Leicester City @ 3.3 (bet365)
West Bromwich Albion vs Cardiff City @ 3.8 (Coral)
Predict the Cupsets
Who doesn’t love a Cup upset? It’s one reason we watch the games after all.
First of all I am going to take Gillingham to beat Stoke City @ 6.0 (Boylesports). Last season Tony Pulis’ side reached the final for the first time in their history but with the club going well in the Premier League and still involved in Europe, he may opt to rest a few key players. The Gills are gunning for promotion in League Two and if there is going to be a “huge” upset this weekend, I think it’s going to happen at Priestfield Stadium.
Charlton Athletic can be backed @ 8.0 (Bet Victor) to beat Premier League side Fulham at Craven Cottage which is a huge price. The Addicks are set for promotion from League One this season and the derby element of this fixture will see them raise their game even further. Fulham look shaky despite beating Arsenal and they could face a third round exit.
Those of you looking for an upset on Sunday may fancy Peterborough United to beat Sunderland @ 4.0 (Ladbrokes). The Posh are free scoring at home and Sunderland may go into this match a little too over confidently after winning four and drawing one out of six matches since Martin O’Neill became manager.
The Manchester Derby
On Sunday, all eyes will be on the Manchester derby and it will be viewed as a “rematch” following City’s 6-1 trouncing of United at Old Trafford back in October. United are in poor form going into this match, having lost 3-0 to Newcastle on Wednesday and 3-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers last weekend.
However, prior to those back to back defeats, they won their last four matches convincingly, scoring 16 goals and conceding just one. City are experiencing mixed form themselves. They beat Liverpool convincingly on Tuesday night but lost 1-0 at Sunderland last weekend and were held to a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day.
With home advantage, City are expected to win but they will be without the Africa Cup of Nations bound brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure.
I don’t believe City are going to have things their own way this weekend which is why I am backing Manchester United to win @ 3.6 (Bet Victor).
Monday Night Football
If you haven’t had enough of the FA Cup by Monday, Arsenal vs Leeds United is televised for your entertainment. Arsenal, are of course short-priced favourites but there could be some value in opposing them.
You may remember that Leeds held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw at the Emirate at this stage of the competition last season before losing the replay 3-1 at Elland Road. Interestingly, Arsenal have lost just one of their last 35 FA Cup matches at home under Arsene Wenger – a 1-0 reverse against Leeds back in 1997.
Can Leeds frustrate the Gunners yet again? If you think they can, the draw is available @ 6.0 (Paddy Power).
If you enjoy the money back specials offered by Paddy Power you will be interested to know if a red card is issued in any of the following televised matches, you get your losing first / last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast singles refunded on that match:
- Birmingham City vs Wolves
- Bristol Rovers vs Aston Villa
- Manchester City vs Manchester United
- Arsenal vs Leeds United