FA Cup 3rd RoundFriday, January 5 2018
Quick update on my Christmas assessment…
That Arsenal and Chelsea lot did us a solid the other night, a-scoring and a-drawing at the Emirates. Adding 4/5 and a 16/5 winners into the pot.
I had scored our four Christmas match days v the bookies as a win, a loss and two draws. But this counts as an injury time winner, so get ready for dressing room selfie. Shirts off, bellies in and say ‘win bonus’.
Right, to FA Cup biznizz... I’ve picked six of the best, including the all-Premier League ties and a couple of Championship teams I happen to cover on duty for the bookies (don’t judge me – I’ve got an expensive wife-style to maintain).
As per, the Tap Ins are short-price bankers best used in Doubles, Trebles and Accas.
The Smart Money bets are for pick-pocketing a bit of value out of the bookies. And there are a few Long Shots in there that are worth a punt.
Suggested stakes: 1pt per Smart Money, 0.5pts per Long Shot up to 3/1, 0.25pts 3/1+.
Liverpool v Everton
If Everton’s unlikely draw – secured from their only shot of the match – at Liverpool a month ago tore up the formbook. Friday’s cup clash should Sellotape it back together again. Liverpool have scored 16 goals in the six matches since (including one blank) and won’t be anything like so wasteful this time.
The Big Sam effect has worn of in stages since assuming the throne at Goodison. Two wins were followed by two draws, which have given way to two defeats. But they are back in mid-table and that’s where their ambitions lay, not in the FA Cup. Liverpool, on the other hand will fancy their chances.
Tap in: Home Win but 2/5 is too short.
Smart Money: Liverpool To Nil is better at 11/8.
Scorecast: No mistakes – 2-0.
Man United v Derby County
With the big one (the Premier League) out of sight, the even bigger one (the Champions League) light years away, the Special One (Mourinho) might fancy the FA one this season. It would certainly help paper over a few cracks (just ask Arsene), just like the acquisition of the EFL and Europa Leagues did last term. It would also be one to add to the set for Jose and Zlatan.
Derby are going well in the Championship but this is likely to be as much a short-swapping exercise as anything. They have got smaller, but more catchable fish to fry.
Tap in: Man United, but not at 1/4.
Long Shot: Draw/ Man United in the HT/FT at 27/10.
Scorecast: A late flurry 2-0.
Middlesbrough v Sunderland
Here’s a few things you might not know about Middlesbrough: It’s an industrial town on the River Tees and it’s a shithole. Only joking, of course - everybody knows it’s a shithole…
Currently 8th in the Championship Boro have been decent against teams outside the Top Six (W7 D2 L1) and beat Sunderland 1-0 in November. Six of their seven home wins have been To Nil.
In the interests of balance, I should state that although Sunderland is bigger (it’s a city) it is every bit as shit as Middlesbrough, every day of the week. Except Saturdays. When it’s often worse. Three wins in the last eight matches is something of a revival in a dogs’ egg of a season which sees them bottom of the table.
Tap in: Home Win at 3/4 – but I’d be more inclined to go…
Smart Money: Middlesbrough & Under 3.5 Goals at 6/5. Or even to cover both…
Long Shot: 1-0 and 2-0 Correct Scores at 5/1 and 7/1 (55:45 stakes for even coverage).
Scorecast: I’ll go 2-0.
Man City v Burnley
Hmm, this might depend just how much Pep fancies the Quadruple. And I suspect he will. Which is a shame because Burnley might’ve been eyeing a cup run in their so far excellent season. Although – whisper it – but they had a stinker over Christmas.
Three points from five matches, with just three goals scored is by far their worst form of the campaign. Of course, it’s all ‘look how far we’ve come’ and ‘this time last year’ from Sean Dyche – and quite right too. But if the margins of your success are small – six 1-0 wins so far, just saying – your collective arses are never far from reality’s snapping jaws.
But, saying all that City can concede – just one clean sheet in six at home. And Burnley compete well.
Tap in: Burnley (+3) Match Handicap at 4/7.
Smart Money: Man City & Under 3.5 Goals at 5/4.
Long Shot: Draw/ Man City in the HT/ FT at 29/10.
Scorecast: City to find a way – 2-1.
Watford v Bristol City
Up until the end of November, Watford were the story of the Premier League season. Since then seven defeats from nine has introduced a nasty twist in the middle. But I think they’ve been a bit unlucky. A mixture of bad luck (v Tottenham, Palace and Swansea), a couple of unwinnable matches (v United and City) and a shitload of red cards (v Burnley, Palace and Huddersfield) has dealt them a raw deal.
Bristol City, however, will fancy their chances. Now they ARE the story of the Championship. A squad put together for a combined £65… favourites for relegation a year ago… a handicapped child for a goalkeeper… blah, blah, blah. Their efforts this season have been remarkable. Only leaders Wolves have been better on the road and seeing to Man United in the EFL won’t exactly deflate their big balls.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 4/5.
Smart Money: Watford & Both Teams to Score pays 2/1 – four times the Home Win.
Scorecast: Goalfest 4-2.
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Someone on Five Live called this a derby the other day?! It’s 46 miles, for badness sake. That’s no more a derby than… I dunno… Stoke and Man City (43 miles). But it is on TV. So…
Brighton are one of the most consistent teams in the Premier League. They pretty much punch their weight – W3 D2 v Bottom Five, L5 v Top Five and W2 D6 L4 v the rest. Palace’s form over the last ten matches – W4 D5 L1 – puts them smack in the middle of that and have added away wins to their armoury in two of the last three. Both have got more pressing business in the league but I fancy a little light relief of FA Cup magic might make this a bit of a thriller.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at Evens.
Smart Money: Draw at 17/5 could well land.
Long Shot: Draw & Over 2.5 Goals is worth a punt at 14/1.
Scorecast: Can see a desmond here – 2-2.
Here’s to a sweet FA Cup weekend.
Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.
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Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.