We preview all five televised FA Cup 3rd round games this weekend, kicking off with Exeter v Liverpool on Friday night and concluding with Spurs v Leicester on Sunday.
Exeter v Liverpool
Friday 8th January / 7.55pm
|Tom Nichols (ew)||First Goalscorer||10/1||Paddy Power|
On the face of it this looks an easy tie for the Reds against Exeter, who are 16th in League Two having lost their last four games.
However, this is Liverpool’s fourth away game in ten days, and you can be sure that Jurgen Klopp will rest a number of first team players with crucial games against Man United and Arsenal just around the corner.
It is also worth noting that six lower division sides have knocked Liverpool out of the Cup in the last 16 seasons: Blackburn (2000), Crystal Palace (2003), Burnley (2005), Barnsley (2008), Reading (2010) and Oldham (2013).
So, given the Reds current injury woes and potential line-up, this has all the makings of a cup upset and Bet365 offer a generous looking 7/1 on the home win.
Exeter’s leading scorer this season is Tom Nichols, including seven goals in their last seven home games, and the Grecian’s striker is 10/1 to score first on Friday night.
Wycombe Wanderers v Aston Villa
Saturday 9th January / 12.45pm
|Gary Thompson||First Goalscorer||9/1||Coral|
Another likely weakened Premier League side facing League Two oppostion – with Remi Garde’s focus on securing Villa’s Premier League survival, albeit a fading hope.
Wycombe have won 5 and drawn 3 of their last 10 league games, but were beaten 0-2 by Morecambe here last weekend, having had goalkeeper Matt Ingram sent off.
As a result of that red card Ingram misses this game – a big blow for the Chairboys’, who now rely on 20 year old Alex Lynch, with their 46 year old keeping coach, Barry Richardson on the bench.
However, they must still fancy their chances against last year’s finalists, who haven’t won a Premier League match since the opening game of the season (D5, L14).
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Saturday 9th January / 5.30pm
|Under 2.5||Total Goals||6/5||Paddy Power|
|No Goalscorer||First Goalscorer||14/1||Coral|
|Billy Sharp (ew)||First Goalscorer||11/1||Bet365|
|Man United 1-0||Correct Score||6/1||Bet365|
Manchester United ended a winless run of six league games (D3, L3) with their 2-1 victory over Swansea here last weekend and face a club who have won five of their six games against teams from a higher division.
League Two Sheffield United can be backed at huge odds of 12/1 with Ladbrokes to win and while that might be beyond the Blades, we can see this being a close game.
United simply don’t overdo things under Luis van Gaal and we’ll start by suggesting taking the 6/5 that Paddy Power offer on Under 2.5 Goals.
Incredibly, they haven’t scored in the first half in their last 9 home games (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0) and have only scored two first half league goals all season – one an own goal and the other in the 4th minute of first-half injury time.
Four of their last nine home league games have ended 0-0 and we also recommend backing No Goalscorer at stand-out odds of 14/1 with Coral, plus a 1-0 home win at 6/1 with Bet365 – who refund losing Correct Score bets on all games that finish 0-0.
Finally, we’ll suggest an each-way bet on Billy Sharp, who has scored in each of Sheffield United’s last four league games, to score first here at 11/1 with Bet365.
Chelsea v Scunthorpe United
Sunday 10th January / 3.05pm
|Under 2.5||Total Goals||2/1||William Hill|
|Paddy Madden (ew)||First Goalscorer||14/1||Paddy Power|
Given Chelsea’s season, we wouldn’t be completely shocked if Scunthorpe won at Stamford Bridge, just as fellow League One side Bradford City did here last season.
However, Scunthorpe have won just two of their last nine league games (D3, L4), and their hopes may rest upon Gus Hiddink fielding a weakened side.
The Dutchman won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2009 when he was last caretaker manager at the Bridge, and has overseen two wins and two draws since his return.
The Blues have progressed from the third round in each of the past 17 seasons, but have just one fit striker in Diego Costa, with Falcao and Remy, plus Hazard injured.
And Scunthorpe’s last five league games have all been Under 2.5 Goal affairs, so while they take on much stronger opposition here, odds of 2/1 on another look big.
Finally, Paddy Madden has already scored 14 times this season and the Republic of Ireland striker looks overpriced at 14/1 with Paddy Power to score the first goal.
Tottenham v Leicester City
Sunday 10th January / 4pm
|Leicester (+1)||Asian Handicap||7/9||BetVictor|
|Riyad Mahrez||First Goalscorer||19/2||BetVictor|
The tie of the FA Cup third round, between the second and fourth placed teams in the Premier League table, who drew 1-1 at Filbert Street in August.
They met in the FA Cup (fourth round) at White Hart Lane last season, with the Foxes winning 2-1, despite trailing 1-0 with just seven minutes remaining.
We would not be surprised to see Mauricio Pochettino rotate his squad for this cup game, but Claudio Ranieri has shed his ‘Tinkerman’ image by keeping a fairly static starting eleven and we would be surprised if he was to rest players here.
We therefore suggest backing the visitors plus one goal on the Asian Handicap at 7/9 with BetVictor, whereby you only lose if Tottenham win by two goals or more.
Leicester have only lost by more than one goal twice in their last 34 games in all competitions, a run stretching back to March 2015.
In the absence of Jamie Vardy, recovering from a groin injury, we also recommend backing Riyad Mahrez to open the scoring at best odds of 19/2, also with BetVictor.