The fourth round of the FA Cup gets underway this weekend, bringing soccer fans more action-packed matches and irresistible David vs. Goliath stories. We have all Premier League matchups as well as some globally known clubs facing minnows. It’s time to unearth the best bets as we all experience the magic of the cup.
Tottenham vs Manchester City (Friday, January 26)
We’re starting with Friday’s massive game between Spurs and Man City. All-Premier League matches aren’t really what the FA Cup is about, but it’s hard not to get excited about seeing two of England’s biggest clubs meeting in the fourth round.
Spurs are missing both James Maddison and Son Heung-Min to injury and international duty respectively, and those two losses have cost them their more creative player and best goalscorer. That’s an issue against a behemoth like Man City, who have welcomed back Kevin De Bruyne. With Spurs’ attacking style it means there’ll be goals, but they leave themselves too open. City should be able to win and we’re certain to see three or more goals here, especially given the fact Spurs’ past six Premier League games at home have all hit that mark.
Pick: Man City to win and Over 2.5 goals (+105)
Ipswich vs. Maidstone United (Saturday, January 27)
The first game on Saturday serves us up Ipswich vs. Maidstone United, which really is a perfect example of what this competition is about. Ipswich are second in the Championship and looking at securing a spot in the Premier League, while Maidstone are a semi-professional team four tiers lower in the National League South.
Maidstone have had an incredible journey to reach this point but a tough trip to Portman Road is surely the end of their FA Cup dream. We’ve seen Ipswich score 51 goals this season, making them the third highest scorers in the division. Maidstone are fourth in the National League South but aren’t prolific in front of goal and they’ll struggle to score against a defense that’s superior in every single way.
Pick: Ipswich to win to nil (-105)
Leeds United vs. Plymouth Argyle (Saturday, January 27)
These teams met in November in the Championship with Leeds winning 2-1 but since then we’ve seen Plymouth Argyle lose manager Steven Schumacher and overhaul their squad with several moves. Fortunately, Argyle’s best player, Morgan Whittaker, is still at the club and they’re a threat against anyone with his sublime goalscoring.
New manager Ian Foster has also implemented more defensive nous into the team, both tactically and also in the form of new signings at the back and in midfield. They were great to watch under Schumacher, but now with Foster’s work they’ll be tougher to beat and I suspect that Leeds will rotate their team for this FA Cup tie, which should help Argyle. I’m not totally sure Argyle win outright, but if you take +1.5 goals on the spread then I believe that their new defensive strength will ensure they’ll cover.
Pick: Plymouth Argyle +1.5 (-118)
Newport Town vs. Manchester United (Sunday, January 28)
When you support a League Two club it’s the dream to earn an FA Cup tie against one of the giants, and Newport Town fans would have been overjoyed to see Manchester United’s name pulled out of the hat. In reality, it’s a death sentence, and a game that they won’t win. They’re three divisions below United and sat in the lower half of the League Two table.
As bad as things are at Man Utd, I simply can’t see them losing this game, and it would arguably be one of their lowest ever points if they did. That said, Newport Stadium is a very difficult place to play and there are often complaints around the quality of the surface on the pitch. This is not the sort of place Man Utd’s pampered stars will be used to playing and Newport will be far more familiar with the quirks of the field. With United rotating players and their poor defensive record this season, I think we’re going to see Newport bag a goal, even though it’s unlikely to be enough to secure them a win.
Pick: Both teams to score (+120)
Blackburn Rovers vs. Wrexham (Monday, January 29)
The last game of this FA Cup fourth round takes place on Monday and it sees Championship team Blackburn host Ryan Reynold’s Wrexham. Thanks to the Hollywood links there’s a real sparkle around Wrexham these days and they’ll fancy themselves against Blackburn.
While Wrexham are having a great season in League Two, where they currently sit second, it’s notable that they’ve given up 37 goals in just 27 games. They have the firepower with the likes of Paul Mullin to get away with that in League Two, but their luck will run out against Championship opposition. I think we’re going to see Blackburn show their class and win this game, although I fancy both teams to score and for there to be three or four goals in total. Rather than back Blackburn to win and both teams to score, we can get slightly lower odds and back the result and Over 2.5 goals, which feels like a safer bet in case the home side come out and blitz Wrexham from the start.
Pick: Blackburn to win and Over 2.5 goals (+100)