Will The Magic Of The Cup Reach Record Levels In The 5th Round?
The FA Cup 3rd and 4th round draws were just about the most boring we’ve ever seen in the history of this wonderful competition, so thank goodness the 5th round has come up trumps to save the day with eight appealing ties that all offer up potential story lines.
Ahead of a fabulous weekend’s action, our football expert Adrian Clarke previews the five matches that will be screened live on TV in the UK…
Burnley v Lincoln City
Sean Dyche and Danny Cowley are two of the brightest young coaches in English football, so this is an FA Cup tie that whets the appetite. Tactically it could be a fascinating duel, even if on paper it looks a nailed-on home win at 27/100.
The Imps won’t shy away from the battle, that’s for sure.
They took the game to Ipswich Town and Brighton & Hove Albion before eliminating both Championship teams, and having won seven of their last eight matches, they are riding the crest of a wave.
Even though Burnley are wonderful on their home patch (they have trailed for a grand total of just 55 minutes all season!) I fancy the National League outfit to score.
It’s 28/25 for both teams to hit the back of the net, and leading marksman Matt Rhead is the man to consider at 15/4 to notch anytime.
For those of you who like a long shot, how about diving onto the wonderfully named Luke Waterfall (30/1). He’s a defender that comes up for set pieces, and has six goals this season.
Do I think Lincoln City will make it to the last eight? No, that’s a step too far.
Dyche’s side are robust enough to handle a blood and thunder cup tie, so I can see a 3-1 victory, which is available at a healthy 11/1.
Wolves v Chelsea
This one’s been billed as the Battle of the Costa’s, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Helder or Diego put their name in lights on Saturday evening.
Wolves recently spent a whopping £13million on bringing winger Helder Costa in from Benfica, and he was outstanding against Liverpool in Round 4. He looks a player with top-flight talent, so the 23/4 for him to score, will create interest.
Antonio Conte’s main man Diego Costa is reportedly close to agreeing a bumper new contract himself, and is understandably priced up shorter, so it may make sense to look at the 5/2 first goal odds.
It’s hard to look past Chelsea, but Burnley’s in-your-face approach last weekend did ruffle one or two feathers. They may have to prep themselves for a second dose of that treatment in the Black Country.
With that in mind, I’d be looking at a tight first period, with the classy visitors surging through in the end. Considering they are 8/25 to win in 90 minutes, the 31/10 on Draw/Chelsea is where the value lies.
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
What a dangerous tie this is for a Spurs side that’s lost its mojo in their last two away games. Blown away by Liverpool, uninspired at Gent, there’s a new vulnerability about Mauricio Pochettino’s men that will have Fulham fans excited.
It has the makings of a belting cup tie at the Cottage.
Ever since Slavisa Jokanovic took charge, the West Londoners have been an entertaining watch, scoring 22 goals in their last eight home games. In fact the last time they failed to bag at least one on their own patch was September 24.
If you’re looking for potential Fulham scorers that offer value, midfielders Tom Cairney and Stefan Johansen (each 23/4 to score anytime) are both enjoying excellent campaigns, and could serve up a moment of magic.
Tottenham haven’t become a bad side overnight, though. They’ll pose a huge threat too, and I’d expect them to score, with a fired up Dele Alli rated at 53/10 to nab the opener.
Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United
It’s a big day for ex-Manchester United defender Wes Brown, who is a player-coach at Ewood Park these days.
As the FA Cup has a habit of throwing up emotional tales, what price he scores the only goal of the game against the club that launched his career? You can get a mind-boggling 275/1 on that scenario playing out! Go on, I dare you…
Looking at the contest from a more studious perspective, you just can’t back against Jose Mourinho’s men. They are gaining strength and self-belief with every run out, and are seemingly peaking for the latter stage of the campaign.
I’d be happy backing them at 23/25 with a 1-0 handicap to Blackburn. Given how freely they are scoring right now, I’d also suggest Over 2.5 goals for Manchester United (11/8) is another near certainty.
The Championship strugglers are likely to be outclassed.
Sutton United v Arsenal
Watching Arsenal capitulate so easily against Bayern Munich will have got some punters frothing at the mouth at a price of 16/1 on National League Sutton making this the miserable week to end all miserable weeks for the Gunners, but that’s surely fantasy talk? I think so anyway.
Providing Arsene Wenger picks a strong enough starting XI and the players don’t turn their noses up at the less than salubrious Gander Green Lane facilities, they should be just fine.
Who will be the star of the show?
The gulf in class is a big one, and Arsenal have too much to lose if they mess up. They’ll be ready.