Something for the weekend
Matt Briggs picks out the value on this weekend's coupon with Crystal Palace expected to keep up the good work in the FA Cup.
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FA Cup - Wigan v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace were rock bottom of the Premier League pile and looked doomed before 'Red Adair' Tony Pulis took charge, but just six weeks on and Palace have been transformed.
The job that Pulis has done to date has not been fully acknowledged and the former Stoke chief deserves more acclaim after guiding the Londoners to 16th spot and a 20-point haul. Pulis has plugged Palace's leaky rearguard with six clean sheets in 12 and they look a stand-out 11/5 to win at Wigan in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Wigan themselves have a new man in charge in the form of Uwe Rosler and they had been going about their business quietly in the Championship and were unbeaten in eight games, until last weekend's 3-0 stuffing at lowly Doncaster. Rosler admitted afterwards: "We weren't at our best and I think the run of games we've recently caught up with us."
It would be no great surprise then to see Wigan make plenty of changes to their side with a clash against fellow play-off chasers Middlesbrough the following midweek, while Palace are also certain to make changes for the trip to Lancashire. Palace indeed made plenty of alterations to their side in the previous round when they shocked West Brom at the Hawthorns and a midweek date with Hull next week means more of their fringe players will get a run-out and a chance to once again impress. So with both teams likely to make changes the 11/5 about top-flight Palace looks great value against the Latics from the Championship, but you'll have to be quick to grab the value.
FA Cup - Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday
Rochdale (11/5) also look a value punt to clatter Sheffield Wednesday at home in the cup.
We came up with a 2/1 home winner in the column last weekend when Gilllingham saw off Swindon, while we also earmarked Chelsea at 20/23 and they went off at 8/11 before returning the points against Manchester United and Dale could make it another home winner this time against a Wednesday side who are focused on avoiding the drop from the Championship.
Dale moved into second spot in League Two last weekend with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Plymouth - their 10th win from 14 at home - and they will be eager to show what they can do against their higher division rivals. Ahead of Tuesday's date with Chesterfield, Rochdale had kept five cleansheets in their last six games and assistant boss Chris Beech said the team are 'flying' after last weekend's win over Plymouth.
Wednesday meanwhile might not be quite flying but they have improved under caretaker boss Stuart Gray and have only lost twice under his tenure, but they will have a relegation six-pointer against Millwall the following midweek on their minds and will more than likely rest players. Key striker Connor Wickham, who is on loan from Sunderland, will not be allowed to play and that will be a huge blow to the Owls, who have built their team around the striker in recent weeks. The visitors are sure to be tested at Spotland and the hosts' cup desire might just help them shock Gray's Owls.
FA Cup - Sheffield United v Fulham
Sheffield United will fancy themselves "to do a Bradford" this season with a home game in the cup against struggling Fulham.
The League One Blades are a generous 12/5 to follow up their third-round win at Aston Villa with another Premier League scalp and with Fulham set to rest some of their big names the giant-killing could be on the cards.
Scott Parker, Dimitar Berbatov and Clint Dempsey are all likely to be given the weekend off with a Premier League clash at Swansea on the horizon. Rene Meulensteen is fully focused on the Cottagers' Premier League survival bid and Fulham, who have been woeful away from home in recent seasons, might not fancy a battle in Yorkshire. Eight defeats on the road hardly inspires confidence in the visitors and the Blades, who were unlucky not to beat Bradford last weekend, look capable of causing another shock.
Sky Bet League One - Notts County v Walsall
There are also some League One and two fixtures at the weekend and in-form Notts County look to be the best value pick to get the better of Walsall.
The Magpies, who take on Peterborough on Tuesday, are available at 2/1 to sink the Saddlers at Meadow Lane and after three wins on the spin that price looks far too big. Bradford, Sheffield United and Stevenage have all been beaten with Shaun Derry starting to find his feet in League One. Derry has added some grit and desire to County and they are more than capable of getting the better of a Walsall side who have shown glimpses of real quality this season. They grabbed a creditable draw with Brentford at home last weekend, but away from home recently they have struggled to get their rewards against lower placed opposition. Draws at Tranmere and Gillingham followed a defeat away at Bristol City and they could be vulnerable on the road again.
- Selections given in order of preference.