West Ham v Manchester City
So just to be clear, Pep Guardiola insists he is not actually ready to retire just days after saying “the process of my goodbye has started” while at the same giving a complete s**t sandwich of a post-match interview following City’s recent 2-1 win over Burnley. Is the Iberian frustrated with life in England and looking for an out? Or was he just absolutely trashed to receive an Old Spice deodorant and shower gel box set and three pairs of hike socks as a gift off a loved one over Christmas? Whatever the truth, Pep’s tenure as City boss has fallen well short of justifying the hype surrounding his appointment so far. And will he be prioritising the FA Cup? Given where they are in the Premier League and the fact they still have Champions League aspiration,s my guess is will he heckers like. And if he shuffles the pack significantly on Friday night, West Ham suddenly look a value bet.
Betting: West Ham to win (Draw No Bet) at 14/5 (Bet Stars)
Manchester United v Reading
Reading are riding high in the Championship and won’t fear a trip to the Theatre of Dreams, where United could ring the changes following their fabulous recent run of seven wins on the spin. It should be lively on the touchline too when Jose Mourinho goes up against Yip Jaap Stam (Big Dutch Man). I groaned when I read this week that it’s over 15 years since he left Old Trafford for Lazio. 15 years man? Where has that time gone? The treble-winning centre-half, the epitome of a no-nonsense defender during his playing days, goes back to his old stomping ground for what could prove the tie of the round. Busy c**ts beware.
Betting: Both teams to score at 6/5 (Betfair/Stan James)
Birmingham City v Newcastle
The Toon broke my heart twice over Christmas with defeats against Blackburn away and before that, Sheffield Wednesday at home, doing me for mad paper on two separate occasions. So I’m hoping to get even with the Geordies by backing Brum here. Yeah I know they’ve lost three out of their last four. And that they were rinsed 4-0 by Newcastle just a few short weeks ago. But there will be shocks in the FA Cup this weekend. So why not at St Andrews?
Betting: Birmingham to win at 100/30 (bet365)
Bolton v Crystal Palace
Big Sam goes back to the club where he made his name. And after that shocking 2-1 home defeat to Swansea in midweek do you really this he will be a*sed if Palace lose this? This one reeks of upset.
Betting: Bolton to win at 13/5 (Paddy Power)
Brentford v Eastleigh
I would love little Eastleigh to do the business here but away form has been worrying after defeats to Southport and Harlow Town in recent weeks. Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen – who enjoyed two good years at Griffin Park – reckons the Spitfires (what a nickname by the way) might only be able to call on 15 players for the game due to injury, suspension and players being cup-tied. In short, this could get messy.
Betting: Over 4.5 goals at 7/2 (Bet Victor)
Everton v Leicester City
Both of these clubs should be having a go in the FA Cup this season given their respective league positions and while Wilfred Ndidi might make his Foxes bow following his recent £15million move from Genk, I make the Toffeemen favourites here based purely on how easily they handled Leicester in the league at the King Power before Christmas.
Betting: Everton (-1) to win at 23/10 (Paddy Power)
Hull City v Swansea City
Both clubs are struggling at the foot of the Premier League while both can now boast shiny new bosses. Marco Silva is confident he can keep the Tigers in the top flight, stating this week “Until May we will find the solutions to keep the club in the Premier League.” Good luck with that one Marco old son.
Betting: Swansea to beat Hull 2-0 at 14/1 (Hills)
Norwich City v Southampton
It’s three defeats in a row now for the Saints and they were woeful in being tea-bagged 3-0 by Everton last time out. Ask yourself honestly, would you be smashing them here at 6/5?
Betting: Norwich to win at 5/2 (bet365)
Preston v Arsenal
Team news will be key here but it’s a raving certainty Arsene Wenger will ring the changes at Preston. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain anytime anyone?
Betting: Oxlade-Chamberlain to score anytime at 16/5 (Unibet)
Liverpool v Plymouth
With Sadio Mane heading off to the African Cup of Nations the stage is set for Divock Origi to stake his claim for a starting berth in the side. And what better way to stake a claim than by smashing a few past the Pilgrims?
Betting: Origi to score first at 4/1 (bet365)
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Dele Alli though? At the age of just 20 he’s got the Premier League in a choke hold. Two against Chelsea on Wednesday. Six in his last three. Seven in his last four. 10 goals in his last 19 games. Nice hair. England international. All I remember about being 20 was waking up on my pal Leroy’s couch bleeding from the right ear after our New Year Millennium celebrations got way out of hand. And I don’t recall being named PFA Young Player of the Year that year either. The world is your lobster Dele old son, but the smart money is on you being rested on Sunday. Vincent Janssen won’t be though, and after notching for Spurs in a few League Cup games earlier this season he could be worth tickling at 4s to score first here.
Betting: Janssen to score first at 4/1 (bet365)