The Xmas decorations might be coming down and there are only Bounty Celebrations left in the tin. On the plus side though it’s FA Cup third round weekend. You know the one. The romance of the Cup? Crazy Gang beating the Culture Club? Ronnie Radford’s sh*t-pinger for Hereford against Newcastle United? The goal that made John f**king Motson? Here then are our best bets from the third round:
Rochdale v Newcastle United
When he was appointed in the summer Steve Bruce suggested that he would take the FA Cup seriously, knowing that Toon fans have been critical of Newcastle’s attitude towards the cups under Mike Ashley. And with the Mags exceeding expectations in the Premier Leagu,e there’s no reason why they shouldn’t cruise past Rochdale in Saturday’s early kick-off. As Bruce himself said earlier this week: “Come here me little Jacky, noo hev had me baccy, let’s hev a a bit o’ cracky till the boat comes in.”
Betting: Newcastle (-1) to win at 2/1
Watford v Tranmere
The Hornets look a team transformed under Nigel Pearson but despite making the final last season their sole aim this season will surely be top-flight survival? With this in mind, Tranmere might be worth tickling at 10/1. Don’t forget there were some huge shocks at this stage last season with non-league Barnet winning at Sheffield United while Newport County memorably sunk
Betting: Tranmere to win at 10/1
Leicester City v Wigan
Leicester should ring the changes so look a trifle short at around the 1/8 mark to beat Wigan here. It’s still mad, absolutely f**king mad to think that Wigan won the FA Cup in 2013. Anyway, how was your New Year? I endured a tough start to 2020 after seeing Paul Chuckle trending on Twitter on Thursday night. I immediately thought that he had megged it. Thankfully he was just appearing on Mastermind.
Betting: Both teams to score at 19/20
Wolves v Manchester United
Back in March, not long after the drama of the Cheltenham Festival had subsided, Wolves produced a truly memorable second-half display to stun the Red Devils and reach their first FA Cup semi-final for 21 years. Just over nine months later and they’re slight favourites in the betting to topple Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United and reach the fourth round. This doesn’t look an easy game to call but if someone was putting a gun to my head, making me strip naked, jam a Yorkie bar up my arse and making me call it I reckon Wolves are the bet, purely based on United’s laughable inconsistency this season.
Betting: Wolves to win at 7/5
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Forest are going very nicely in the Championship so I’m not sure Frank Lampard’s men should be 1/6 shots here. Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley have been on fire for the Tricky Trees so both teams to score at the Bridge at just under evens looks very tidy.
Betting: Both teams to score at 49/50
Middlesbrough v Tottenham
Will Jose even be arsed here? Spurs picked up just four points from a possible 12 over the festive period but are somehow still – just about – in the Champions League qualification mix. Meanwhile Boro are on a roll having won four games in a row. Mourinho needs to show he’s still capable of delivering trophies and not just clever soundbites but it will be freezing on Teesside and backing in-form Boro at a smidge over 4/1 looks the play.
Betting: Middlesbrough to win at 17/4
Sheffield United v AFC Fylde
Fylde are 28/1 to pull off a shock but have not won in four matches and I still fancy Sheffield United’s second string to knock these plucky chancers into a cocked hat.
Betting: Sheffield United (-3) to win at 16/5
Liverpool v Everton
Now the cynic in me would say it is somewhat ironic that TV companies sell the FA Cup on its romance and then televise live matches featuring Premier League teams who regard it as an inconvenience. With the games coming thick and fast for Liverpool, and the club on the cusp of their first league title in 30 years, would defeat to their Merseyside rivals really be a disaster here? Would it shite!
Betting: Everton to win at 16/5
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