Wycombe v Aston Villa
If there’s going to be a high-profile FA Cup shock this weekend, chances are it will come at Adams Park where crisis club Villa face Wycombe. The Chairboys are sixth in League Two but will fancy their chances of claiming a Premier League scalp here. Villa have not won a game of football since September 22 and if you look closely into Remi Garde’s eyes they are the eyes of a man who has seen too much death. Too much suffering. Too much Gabby Agbonlahor.
Betting: Wycombe to win at 11/4 (bet365/Coral)
Arsenal v Sunderland
It wouldn’t be a bitter blow for either of these teams to exit the FA Cup stage this weekend given what they have on their respective plates, but I’ll wager Arsene Wenger gives the old trophy a bit more respect than Big Sam. Arsenal of course are the cup holders while Allardyce – when taking time out this week from griefing Jurgen Klopp – has mentioned “flogging the lads” and railed at the fact that his side also have to play a league game next Wednesday night. Expect multiple changes here. And for Sunderland to go down like a dog (or should that be Black Cat?) on the highway.
Betting: Arsenal (-2) to win at 17/10 (Betway)
Doncaster v Stoke
Another top flight side set to ring the changes are Stoke, whose heavy-legged display in their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg in the week revealed a side struggling to cope with the demands of top-flight football. The Liverpool game was the fourth straight game that Stoke were unchanged so surely ‘Sparky’ Hughes will give some of his leading lights a rest here? If he does, Donny, who have won their last two, could cash in.
Betting: Doncaster to win at 100/30 (Hills)
Eastleigh v Bolton
It tells you everything about how far Bolton have slipped when the camel coats chalk them up at 13/10 shots to beat little Eastleigh. As recently as 2011, Bolton made it to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Today, they are bottom of the Championship with debts exceeding £170million. £170million? F*ck me! And I thought I owed a few quid out after Christmas. Despite all this negativity, my hunch is that their price to beat the National League high-flyers is worth steaming into. He who dares Rodney, he who dares…
Betting: Bolton to win at 13/10 (bet365)
Norwich v Manchester City
The Citizens are struggling to find fit defenders and are being found out at the back on an almost weekly basis. It’s frightening how much they depend on big Vince Kompany, who will again be missing here. With this in mind, over 2.5 goals looks an absolute knocking bet at Carrow Road.
Betting: Over 2.5 goals at 8/11 (Boylesports)
Southampton v Crystal Palace
After his controversial omission last week for slinking into a team meeting late, Ronald Koeman has confirmed that Sadio Mane will start against Palace. The man at the forefront of Senegal’s golden generation is being courted by Manchester United and a host of other clubs, and I fancy him to go some way towards restoring his reputation in the eyes of Saints fans by firing his side to victory.
Betting: Mane to score first at 6/1 (Ladbrokes)
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Having ended an eight-match winless run against Swansea, the last thing LVG needs is to trip up against the Blades here. And could the competition that is widely believed to have saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack in 1990 come to Van Gaal’s rescue in 2016? It’s possible. And you can bet your life he won’t be making wholesale changes against the League One side. One man who could feature though is Andreas Pereira, and if he does the Brazilian schemer looks plenty backable at 14/5 to find the net.
Betting: Pereira to score anytime at 14/5 (Stan James)
Chelsea v Scunthorpe
Scunny will take a good few thousand down to the Smoke for this one but most will travel more in hope than expectation. It’s worth remembering that Chelsea have not ducked out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage for 18 seasons and this competition offers the Blues a fairly straightforward passage into Europe next term. Those who reckon Chelsea can finish in the top four, please give your f*cking head a shake. It’s not happening. Not after nine defeats already this season. That’s the bad news. The good news Chelsea fans is I fancy them to stroll to victory in this one.
Betting: Chelsea to win 3-0 at 15/2 (Bet Victor)
Tottenham v Leicester
My nap for Sunday is Spurs to beat Leicester. So far ‘Tinker Man’ Claudio Ranieri has been a model of consistency in terms of his team selection, but he will surely ring a few changes here as the Foxes try to conserve energy in their audacious hunt for a Champions League spot at the end of the season. I can see this being an open, free-flowing game, but the edge clearly lies with Spurs if Ranieri rests one or two of his star men.
Betting: Tottenham to win and both teams to score at 5/2 (Boylesports)