Czech out the scorer markets
Ben Coley previews tonight's FA Cup ties and fancies Tomas Rosicky to further underline his worth to Arsenal.
- Related Content
Friday night offers up two FA Cup ties and both involve odds-on favourites who should combine for a reliable double for punters.
That isn't to say we'll be playing such a double, which pays a shade under evens, but many will and they should be rewarded with victories for Arsenal and Nottingham Forest.
Clearly, Premier League leaders Arsenal shouldn't have many problems in beating Coventry. Arsene Wenger's side breezed past Tottenham in round three and beat Friday's opponents 6-1 when the pair met in last season's Capital One Cup.
A glance at Arsenal's recent record in the FA Cup does offer hope for those dreaming of what would be one of the biggest upset's in the competition's history.
Just last season, Arsenal scraped past Brighton before losing 1-0 at home to Blackburn. A year earlier, they needed a replay to overcome Leyton Orient, while teams like Huddersfield and Plymouth have at least troubled the scorer in trips to the Emirates Stadium even if Arsenal have typically been good enough.
Coventry's last 11 games in all competitions have seen both teams score while they've found the net in all four FA Cup ties so far, but even with all this in mind I'm not particularly tempted by 15/8 about Arsenal conceding but winning.
Arsenal appear to mean business this year and their habit of conceding against low-grade opposition is fading. Their net has been breached just six times at home in the Premier League which represents the best record in the division, while pointing to a home win to nil at a very fair 4/5.
The one concern with regards to going in heavy on that to win to nil quote is that team changes are quite likely, and it only takes a moment of carelessness or brilliance to cost us heavily.
Instead, it could pay to be more creative and back Tomas Rosicky to score at any time at 4/1, a price which looks at least a point too big.
The Czech midfielder found the net in the third round and has been lauded as one of the division's best by none other than Mesut Ozil.
There's no doubt to me that he provides Arsenal with great energy - the type of which can be required in such games as these - and having been used sparingly in the league, I fancy him to start providing his nose problem has been remedied. Rosicky was on the bench and prepared to play in a protective mask last time, so there's hope in that regard and if he does miss out stakes will be refunded.
Olivier Giroud is clearly the man most likely for Arsenal and his first goal for the club came against Coventry, but Wenger may feel that this is a good chance to give the French international a day off. He did so against Spurs, albeit with Theo Walcott an ideal stand-in on that occasion.
With the likes of Ozil priced around the 5/2 mark and Santi Cazorla even shorter, I can't quite see the logic in Rosicky's price and he gets the vote ahead of Serge Gnabry, who is into 2/1 now having been backed at 18s against Spurs.
Rosicky has four goals in just 11 FA Cup starts - that's a much better strike-rate than he has for any other competition since moving to England in 2006 - and if he's given the nod it's likely he'll have opportunities against a Coventry defence set to struggle from the off.
While it's Arsenal and Coventry who have been given the nod from the television broadcasters, the night's most interesting tie comes at the City Ground where Forest host Preston.
Preston do pose a threat - their away record in League 1 involves eight wins - but Forest are flying at home and are probably worthy of 4/6 quotes.
The way to get with them, however, is in the half-time/full-time market. Here you can get 17/10 about Forest-Forest and that looks worth a decent bet.
As well as their much-publicised 5-0 drubbing of West Ham, Forest have beaten Blackburn, Leeds and QPR at home lately and led at the break in all three. They have five other home wins in all competitions this season, and four of them came in the same fashion. That's eight from nine which shows the mileage in being more specific about their method of victory.
Jamie Paterson grabbed the headlines against West Ham and has scored in both starts since to earn high praise from Andy Reid, who says 'the sky is the limit' for the youngster. However, bookmakers appear to be onto him and prices around the 2/1 mark about him finding the net again look just about right.
Instead, we'll hope that Forest are fast out of the blocks as they have been for the best part of a month.