The Carabao Cup entertained us in midweek. As seems to be the way at this time of year, we have back-to-back cup fixtures with the FA Cup fourth round taking place this weekend.
It’s a weekend dominated by football, and one we can be sure will be riddled with cliché. No ‘magic’ of the cup here, though, just a bit of chat and a few predictions for the televised matches.
Yeovil Town vs MANCHESTER UNITED
Landing a tie with Manchester United was a dream for Yeovil Town. The Somerset club notched a 2-0 win over Bradford in the third round to give them an opportunity to face Jose Mourinho’s superstars.
This is a welcome distraction for the League Two outfit, who are sitting just two points above the relegation zone. Yeovil lost at home to rivals Chesterfield last time out.
Manchester United are expected to give Alexis Sanchez his debut in this one. Mourinho will likely rotate a fair bit other than that with Premier League fixtures following in midweek and the Champions League soon to return.
I’m expecting an easy United win here, which means a goalscorer bet provides the best value.
TIP: Alexis Sanchez to score @ 3/4
Peterborough United vs LEICESTER CITY
Peterborough caused one of the upsets of the third round to book a tie against Claude Puel’s side. Aston Villa were the victims, losing 3-1 at home to the League One side.
Leicester required a replay to get past Fleetwood Town. The first game was a televised snoozefest, and the second was not much better, though we did get treated to some sweet VAR action.
The Foxes have returned to form of late. Their last outing saw an easy victory over Watford, while Peterborough smashed Oldham 3-0 in the league.
I was surprised to see Leicester at 11/20 to win this one. It’s a decent price, and I think well worth making up part of this acca.
TIP: Leicester to win @ 11/20
Newport County vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Newport are unbeaten since Boxing Day. Their dramatic victory over Leeds United was one of the stories of the third round, and that match that will go down as a great FA Cup upset. Mike Flynn's side are now within three points of the automatic promotion places in League Two.
Form might well not be enough to see off this Tottenham team, though. Mauricio Pochettino could rotate again, which may mean a rare start for Fernando Llorente.
That will save Newport’s defenders from Harry Kane, but that is unlikely to be enough.
Spurs were disappointing at Southampton last weekend. That was an off-day, however, and I fully expected Pochettino’s men to win this one comfortably.
TIP: Tottenham to win @ 1/6
Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion
Liverpool host Alan Pardew’s West Brom in the late Saturday kick-off. The Baggies have put together a positive run of sorts by taking four points from their last two league matches.
The fact that is worth mentioning shows how much they’ve struggled this term.
The Baggies evaded a comical-looking banana skin to cruise past Exeter City in the third round, while Liverpool rejoiced as Virgil van Dijk headed a late winner in a feisty Merseyside derby.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were frustrated by Swansea on Monday, though, in the most Liverpool of Liverpool things in history. Pardew’s team have the capability to be similar infuriating, and might show up Liverpool’s lack of creativity again.
TIP: Liverpool to score under 2.5 goals @ 3/5
Chelsea vs Newcastle United
Chelsea finally got their first win of 2018 on Saturday and Blues fans will be expecting their side to build on that success. At Stamford Bridge, the current Premier League champions are usually rock solid.
Newcastle saw their four-match unbeaten run end at the hands of Manchester City. We can expect a similar, ultra-defensive approach from Rafael Benitez in this one. The Magpies boss Benitez opted to absorb at Stamford Bridge last time out, but gave Eden Hazard too much freedom and were punished with a 3-1 defeat.
Hazard and Willian were instrumental in their latest Premier League victory as well, and the Blues will be looking to build momentum as they head into an extremely challenging period in February and March.
Newcastle will be up against it in this contest - just as they were back in Decemer. It could follow a very similar pattern...
TIP: Chelsea to win @ 4/11
Cardiff City vs Manchester City
Manchester City recovered from their Liverpool blip to dispatch Newcastle last weekend. That was soon followed by a dramatic win away at Bristol City to confirm their place in the Carabao Cup final.
Pep Guardiola’s men remain on course for a quadruple. Okay, it’s ludicrously unlikely, but that’s the narrative that will get banded about if they win this one.
Cardiff are having quite a season of their own, mind. Two points off automatic promotion to the Premier League, Neil Warnock’s side are in decent form despite a poor period around the turn of the year.
I expect the Bluebirds to make it tricky for the Premier League leaders early on, but anything more than that is too much of an ask. City’s quality will shine through again.
TIP: Manchester City to score over 2.5 goals @ EVS
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*