IF we needed a warning about FA Cup matches we got it with Liverpool’s draw at Exeter last night. The Reds played Christian Benteke and 10 reserves and were lucky to escape St James’s with a draw.
Team news is vital before betting on these ties and if anyone can wait until the last minute to place their bets that’s the best approach.
Most Premier League teams will rotate especially with a full card in midweek and I’ve read the managers at Arsenal, Stoke, Everton and Bournemouth confirm their line-ups will be weakened. So don’t blindly lump on all the big guns or expect them to win easily.
There are bound to be a few shocks and I wonder how people will approach the ties involving Wycombe v Aston Villa and Eastleigh v Bolton.
At first glance look great bets with Villa a best 6-5 with bet365 against the League Two men and Bolton are even bigger at 5-4 with many firms.
Both tempt but not enough for me. There’s nothing an under-fire manager fears more than an FA Cup tie against a little ‘un.
Defeat could be the last straw in the fight to save their jobs and bosses who’ll be fearing the worst today include Villa’s Remi Garde, Bolton’s Neil Lennon and maybe even Man United’s Louis van Gaal.
It’s easy to see why the BT Sport cameras are rolling up at Adams Park this lunchtime – they sense blood. Villa are without a win in 15, haven’t triumphed away since the opening day and confidence will be rock bottom after being battered by Sunderland last weekend.
And like other Premier League teams they have a midweek match – with Crystal Palace the visitors and they have to pick up points right now or they’re down.
League Two Wycombe have lost two out of 13 but normally wouldn’t be given a sniff against Premier League opposition.
Wycombe are shorter than they should be at 13-5 with McBookie and I’m backing them draw no bet at 13-10 with BetVictor and McBookie. Villa were one of Sheffield Utd’s victims as the Blades battled to the semi-finals two years ago and the League One side could ask questions of Man Utd.
The pressure on van Gaal was eased by last week’s much-needed win against Swansea and ramped up again when kitmakers adidas questioned the manager’s dull tactics.
Eastleigh, fourth in the National League, face the biggest game in their history at home to Bolton. There will be a sell-out at the Silverlake Stadium for the club’s first FA Cup third-round tie in 70 years and Lenny and Co must be afraid.
Bolton are rock bottom of the Championship, skint and with just three points on the road. Eastleigh aren’t even that big a price at 12-5 at Paddy Power with Lennon’s side as big as 13-10 with McBookie. I reckon the favourites would settle for a replay at the Reebok.
If it’s difficult to back Villa, Man Utd and Bolton who can we trust away from the short prices on offer on the likes of Arsenal v Sunderland, Everton v Dagenham and Derby at Hartlepool.
What about Watford at home to Newcastle in an all-Premier League tie. Watford have the firepower in Idion Ighalo and Troy Deeney to see off a side who suffered three successive 1-0 defeats. If they go with their main men I’ll be on the home at 17-20 with bet365.
I also like West Ham, unbeaten in seven, at 3-4 with McBookie at home to Championship Wolves. Boss Slaven Bilic says he’s rather lift the FA Cup than finish top four and that’s great to hear. They are unbeaten in seven and from what he says will be at full strength.
And if Tony Pulis’s West Brom don’t rotate they should take care of struggling Bristol City. Pulis is suggesting he will play Saido Berahino and that means he’s taking it seriously.
I’m reluctant to offer up too much on the FA Cup without concrete line-ups but as far as goals go I’d look at both to score at Doncaster v Stoke, Peterborough v Preston and Northampton v MK Dons.
Bets to Consider
Wycombe draw no bet
Sheffield Utd to score