This weekend is a big one in the calendar for UK football fans as it is the fourth round of the FA Cup. The last round saw a number of bigger teams eliminated from the competition, with the likes of Brighton, Everton, Wolves and Aston Villa amongst those that did not make it past the first round of competition for those top flight teams.
With one Third Round Replay still to be played (Tranmere Rovers v Watford who will face off on Thursday Night, a game which I will be attending) 15 out of the 16 Fourth Round ties are already known and they begin on Friday evening with two games and conclude on Monday night with the all-Premier League clash between Bournemouth and Arsenal on the south coast.
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Let’s now take a look at our tips for the big FA Cup games this weekend, starting with the 3rd Round Replay taking place on Thursday night.
FA Cup Third Round Replays (Thu 23rd & Fri 24th Jan)
Tranmere Rovers v Watford
Tranmere are 4/1 to win this replay against a below-strength Watford side as Nigel Pearson has already made it clear he will not be sending a full-strength team for this game. After coming back from 3-0 down, Rovers will feel they have a chance especially on a claggy, soggy pitch. It may require penalties, Tranmere to qualify at 9/4.
FA Cup Fourth Round
Northampton v Derby County
With Wayne Rooney now able to play, Derby will be hoping the ex-England man can steer them towards better times. Northampton have done well in League Two this season but I feel the Rams should have the quality to get the job done here. Take Derby to win at 4/5.
QPR v Sheffield Wednesday
Two sides who have hit some highs and a few lows in the Championship this season. Rangers beat Wednesday earlier on in the season at Hillsborough and I think that does mean that the home side just about has the edge, despite Wednesday’s decent away form of late. Back QPR for a narrow win here at 31/20.
Brentford v Leicester City
Leicester City have hit a bit of streaky form of late in the Premier League and their defeat at Burnley last weekend was another blow. Brentford are flying in the Championship and this promises to be a very tough game. I think Leicester will go through, but it will require a replay, hence take the draw here at 11/4.
Burnley v Norwich City
An all-Premier League clash between two sides who picked up rare wins last weekend. Home advantage I think will be crucial here between two sides who I feel will be lining up very differently than usual and as such, I am taking Burnley to land the win at 17/20.
Coventry v Birmingham City
This Midlands derby should be an interesting match up. Coventry have the better form, but Birmingham are a division higher than the Sky Blues. The game is also a home game for Birmingham as Coventry are playing their games at St Andrews. As such, I think that just about edges it in favour of the ‘visitors’ here. Take Birmingham to win at 5/4
Millwall v Sheffield United
With Sheffield United likely to rest some key men after a busy week of Premier League action, I think this could well play into Millwall’s hands. The home side have a partisan crowd, home advantage and a week’s rest ahead of this game and with a likely full strength team, I am taking Millwall at 15/8 to land the win.
Newcastle v Oxford United
Newcastle have been hit hard by injuries of late but Steve Bruce does value the FA Cup so I can’t see him playing too many youngsters in this one. Oxford are a dangerous attacking side but I think Newcastle should have more than enough quality to claim the win here at 2/5.
Portsmouth v Barnsley
Barnsley have struggled in the Championship this season, just as Pompey have found life tough in League One. Home advantage is big here for Portsmouth and I can see them perhaps using that to their advantage to claim a win. Take Pompey for the win at 13/10.
Reading v Cardiff City
Two mid-table Championship sides clash in what should be a close game but I feel that Reading have the edge having beaten Cardiff 3-0 in the league in this fixture earlier on in the season and given that their form has generally been a little better than the Bluebirds of late. Back Reading to win (13/10).
Southampton v Tottenham
With both these teams likely to rest a few key players, I think this game is very open. The Saints have been much better of late, but Spurs form is still somewhat erratic at times and they do lack potency without Harry Kane. This is another game that I think will end up as a draw (13/5).
West Ham v West Brom
West Ham face an interesting game against promotion chasing West Brom. The Hammers recent form isn’t great but neither is West Brom’s to be honest. This is a close game and with West Ham likely resting players, that could play into the Baggies hands. Back a draw here at 11/4.
Hull City v Chelsea
TV have clearly picked this as the late game on Saturday in the hope that it is a giantkilling, but in truth, I think Chelsea are better on the road than at home this season. Hull have some dangerous attackers, but I think Chelsea’s attacking quality will be the difference here and should see them run out 9/20 winners.
Manchester City v Fulham
I can see City resting plenty of key men here but in truth the strength of their squad is such, plus with home advantage, that it shouldn’t matter even against promotion chasing Fulham. The Londoners have been hit with a few key injuries of late which makes this an even tougher prospect. City should win this comfortably as the 1/8 odds suggest.
Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool
Liverpool will likely play a mix of young squad players and fringe players for this game away to Shrewsbury, but if that team was good enough to beat Everton at Anfield, then they should be capable of getting the job done against their combative League One opponents. Back Liverpool to win at 2/5.
Bournemouth v Arsenal
Two teams that are struggling to find any semblance of form at the moment and two teams I also feel will rest players for this game. That, to me, hands a big advantage to Arsenal who have much more strength in depth than Bournemouth and as a result, I am expecting Arsenal to claim the win here at odds of 17/20.
Games to be decided based on 3rd Round Replay Results
Tranmere/Watford v Manchester United
If Tranmere do get through then they could face a money-spinning tie with Man Utd. Only unlike Watford, I expect United to pick a strong team for this game as Solskjaer will want to maximise his chances of silverware. That should mean United go through relatively easily here and in truth they should do that whether it is Tranmere or Watford who progress.