The FA Cup accepted 758 clubs this year with the majority of these required to compete in the exta preliminary and preliminary rounds. After a total of 742 matches so far, not including replays, the competition is down to the final 16 teams. There will be eight fifth round ties played over four days. Four games will take place on Saturday, two on Sunday, one on Monday and the winner of the fourth round replay involving Chelsea and Brentford will travel to Middlesbrough on February 27th.
So where should a sensible punter look when searching for value in the FA Cup? One of the most important factors is motivation. Some teams have other priorities which mean their full focus might not be on the cup. The threat of relegation or challenging for a European position are examples of factors that may influence a manager’s team selection or his team’s motivation ahead of an FA Cup tie. On the other hand, there are teams who are sitting nicely in mid table with no threat of relegation and not much else to play for. These teams are probably more likely to give the cup some serious consideration.
Oldham v Everton (Sat, 6pm, itv1)
Oldham continue their cup dream despite some worrying times in League 1. The Latics find themselves within the relegation places. But Tony Philliskirk’s men will be delighted to have gotten back to winning ways with a victory over MK Dons last weekend. The caretaker boss will have the task of securing his team’s league status as his main objective. With a trip to Stevenage coming just three days after the Everton tie, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a couple of key players are rested. That said, the players may well be sent out to enjoy the fixture against Premier League opposition with the hope of a fashionable replay in prospect.
Everton are a good example of a team who could take the cup seriously. A top four finish is rather unlikely and the FA Cup is an ideal opportunity to gain some silverware. The five time winners last lifted the cup in 1995 and are well capable of challenging again this season.
Match Odds: Oldham 17/2, Draw 22/5, Everton 4/11
Everton should win this, but the odds are far too short for me and the value appears to lye in the other markets. Looking at the Latics cup record, they have scored 3 goals in each of their last three fixtures, all against better placed opposition. This included matches against Nottingham Forest and Liverpool. There is no reason to expect that they won’t at least register a goal against David Moyes’ men and I will be looking for them to do just that.
For some more odds on the game, https://sports.bwin.com/en/
Bet Selection: Oldham to score over 0.5 goals @ 5/6 with Boylesports.
Huddersfield v Wigan (Sun, 3:55pm, itv1)
A match with all the makings of a giant killing. Huddersfield host a Wigan side who find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle. The Terriers are highly unlikely to challenge for promotion this season, yet they should remain safe in their division. That means the team can give full focus to their FA Cup tie against Premier League opposition in front of a packed John Smith’s Stadium. Excluding an away defeat to Derby, the West Yorkshire side have gained credible wins in recent weeks against Crystal Palace and Leicester, as well as a draw against leaders Cardiff, so they go into this match with plenty of momentum and belief – much the opposite of their opponents.
Match Odds: Huddersfield 11/4, Draw 13/5, Wigan 13/10
Overall, I have identified this as a fixture where the Premier League side are too short given their circumstances and their Championship opponents look like good value to cause a minor shock on a draw no bet basis.
Bet Selection: Huddersfield (Draw No Bet) @ 13/8 with Paddy Power
Quick Pick Double
Arsenal v Blackburn – Over 2.5 goals @ 4/11 (Sat, 3pm)
Chelsea v Brentford – Over 2.5 goals @ 4/9 (Sun, 12pm, itv1)
Bet Selection: Double @ 24/25 with Ladbrokes