A weekend of FA Cup Action... So it should be easy to pick a few winners... but i'm not so sure...
|WWDWD||Blackpool v Sheff Wed||WWLWW||-||2-1||0-2||1-2||-||-|
|23||WDLLL||Bolton v Swansea||LWLDL||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|24||WWLWW||Brighton v Newcastle||LLWLD||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|25||WWWWL||Derby v Stoke||DWLWW||0-2||-||-||-||-||-|
|26||WLWWW||Hull v Crawley||DDDDW||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|27||LDDDW||Leicester v Swindon||WWLDD||-||-||1-1||-||-||-|
|28||DWDWD||Liverpool v Man United||WLWWW||0-1||0-1||2-1||2-0||3-1||-|
|29||LLWDW||Millwall v Southampton||WLDLL||-||-||-||1-1||-||-|
|30||WLLLD||QPR v Chelsea||DWDDW||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|31||WWWWW||Sheff United v Birmingham||WDLLL||-||-||2-1||-||-||-|
|32||WLWDW||Stevenage v Notts County||LLLLL||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|33||LLDLL||West Brom v Norwich||WWDDL||0-1||2-0||-||-||-||-|
|48||LWDWD||Arsenal v Aston Villa||WWDWD||1-1||1-1||0-2||3-0||1-2||-|
|49||WWDWL||Sunderland v Middlesboro||LLWWD||-||3-2||2-0||-||-||-|
A few interesting games to think about, but I'm going to look for the potential shocks this weekend...
So lets go to League 2... erm Division 4 to the elders amongst us. Swindon and Crawley, two teams that have big ambitions and this season are making an impression at the top of their league. Swindon travel to big spending Leicester, in the midst of a bit of an injury crisis, who could well be giving less thought to the FA Cup as promotion is all they seem to have their eyes on. DiCanio has already said, "I want my players to test them selves against Leicester and see that they can compete" so expect Swindon to turn up and give Leicester a good rattle. Swindon's have been tight at the back and are a real threat on the break so Leicester may have a lot of the ball but if Pearson fields a weakened team don't be surprised to see Swindon continue their recent form and continue in the FA Cup. At a healthy 6-1 for Swindon to win there could be a nice few quid in it for those wiling to give it ago... there are far worse bets out there... Carroll to score first at 16-1 for example....
Then to Crawley, a team that is also far better than the division they're in, but they have struggled this season when they've come up against teams who pack the defence... Hull though surely won't be trying to sneak a cheeky 1-0 win at home to lower league opposition so this game could be an open end to end affair. Crawley have pace, and have players who love to get forward... Hull are obviously flying high and again will probably have all eyes on a promotion push, so again a weakened team could well be in order. Crawley will be looking to make a point against a team 2 league above them and with both team looking to get forward a high scoring game could well be in order. Crawley are only 7-2 though which is not so generous. But still better than putting £10 on Andy Carroll to score any time 5-1.
Liverpool vs United, everyone knows about these two. To me so much depends on if Kenny manages (by luck or judgement) to pick a team that compliments each other. If Carroll is to start then Kenny needs to give his wingers license to do what wingers do, not play 10 yards in off the line on the wrong side of the pitch. My only concern for United is Gerrard through the middle though... If United can stop him I think they'll have the game wrapped up by half time... Downing and Hendersen need to play like old fashioned wingers... the type Kenny used to thrive on... He needs to stop blaming his players (that he bought), they're only as effective as the tactics and formation he sends them out with... Anyway I can see Welbeck showing Carroll how to play that role upfront and giving Liverpool no time at the back to rest. So to me it's got to be United by two clear goals... which is a healthy 8-1.
Arsenal and Villa I think could be the game of the round or show up the absolute worst things about English football... it depends on McLeish, in recent weeks he seems to have removed the shackles on the team, it's not all about 10 men behind the ball all the time, sure the team needs to work hard, sure we want togetherness and a tight defence but he seems to realise that we also want to be seen as a team that trys to win every game and a team that will take a game to the opposition... Arsenal (as it's been seen week in week out) have a huge weakness... their defence. Looking at Villa's squad they have a clear strength... their Attack... I really do fancy Villa pulling off a bit of shock and compounding the pressure Wenger is under... perhaps Wenger will name a young team so if they do lose he'll have an excuse, no one knows what Wenger will do... but Villa are a good bet at 5-1 for the win.
Malaga vs. Sevilla, 8.30pm, La Rosaleda.
To put it simply, Malaga's new found oil riches are yet to come to fruition. I have no doubts that in time, the Andalusian club will flourish Manchester City-style, but in the meantime the team is struggling perform well and that's reflected in their league position. Aside from a few names who have impressed this term, mainly Jeremy Toulalan and Isco, the squad is underperforming and continues to miss simple chances and give away stupid fouls on a consistent basis.
Their opponents, Sevilla, also have no right to be satisfied with their showing this season. They have recently shipped out defender Martin Caceres who's played well for them, and have brought in Jose Antonio Reyes from Atletico. They will hope Reyes can continue to settle in and help his new side grab some more goals, which is an area they've been struggling with so far whilst putting faith in their many defensive options to tighten things up at the back.
Malaga have the ability to mix it up with exciting attacking players like Santi Cazorla (who is always a threat from dead-balls) and Joaquin, who could return from injury tonight, but so do Sevilla with pace in names like Navas, Reyes and Perotti, who may also return from injury. With Malaga's tendency to panic and clip players on the edge of their box, I almost expect a Santi free-kick at some point.
Most betting sites have Malaga favourites for this one, however I think it's going to be an extremely tight game, with the likelihood of costly mistakes driving both sides to perform better than they have been. There's a good chance they'll negate each other and I will be putting a fiver on-
an away win @ 23/10
and any draw @ 23/10.
11/4 on a Cazorla goal at any point could easily pay off if you're feeling fruity.
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