The FA Cup in back, with the fourth round matches taking place this weekend. George Pitts and Paul Higham look for value.
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Hull v Chelsea
- 1730 GMT kick-off on BT Sport 1
Chelsea haven't lost an FA Cup tie away at lower league opposition for 12 years, but their form has been patchy at best of late and their away form, which was their strength, is now a concern.
They were lucky to win at Arsenal, played brilliantly at Tottenham but were also off the pace and bullied in defeats at Everton and Newcastle and were held at Brighton. So if there is a blueprint to beat Frank Lampard's side it seems to be to muscle them out of the reckoning.
Hull are the definition of average this season, midtable in the Sky Bet Championship with 11 wins and 11 defeats and having won three and lost three of their last six - they can turn it on at times and it's well within them to shock a Chelsea team that won't be at full strength.
It's a tricky assignment for Chelsea and they're certainly vulnerable on the strength of their performances in defeats to Southampton and Bournemouth, but it's just whether Hull can raise their game enough that is the big question.
Chelsea have struggled to find the net when teams defend deep on them and force them to break them down, but Hull and in particular Jared Bowen will offer a decent goal threat, and Chelsea have kept just two cleans sheets away from home all season. Hull can score but it may not be enough.
Best bet: Chelsea win & both teams to score at 2/1
- Hull have won none of their 10 FA Cup games against Chelsea (D3 L7), losing most recently in the fifth round in February 2018, a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
- In all competitions, Chelsea are unbeaten in 15 games against Hull, winning 13 and drawing two since a 3-0 defeat in October 1988.
- When playing outside the top-flight, Hull have been eliminated in their last 13 FA Cup ties against top-flight opponents since winning 1-0 against West Ham United in February 1973 as a second-tier outfit.
- Chelsea have progressed from 49 of their last 51 FA Cup ties against non-Premier League sides, and haven’t lost away from home since March 2008, losing 1-0 to Barnsley.
- Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in four goals in his three FA Cup starts (2 goals, 2 assists), with all three starts coming against Championship opponents.
Millwall v Sheffield United
Chris Wilder did not shy away from the fact he was going to make 11 changes for the last round and it would be no shock to see him do the same here.
Premier League survival - and beyond - is their priority and, barring a mega disaster in the second half of the season, you would think the former is a given now.
After the success of the Blades this season in the top flight, it would be good to see them put a run together and really go for it in this competition. After all, they can beat anyone on their day.
But this one will probably be the chance for fringe players to get a run out like in that narrow 2-1 win over Fylde and in Millwall they face one of the Championship's form teams under Gary Rowett and at The Den they will certainly be encouraging their men to get one over superior opposition.
They last met in Bermondsey 18 months ago, with Sheff United edging them 3-2 in a five-goal thriller.
Millwall have lost just one of their last 14, so backing them in a draw no bet at just over 7/5 would not be a terrible shout, but the odds at just under even money for both teams scoring looks worth adding to your BTTS coupon.
Both teams have scored in seven of Sheff United's 12 away games in the league this term, and in other competitions their 'cup team' have conceded to Blackburn, Sunderland and Fylde.
Best bet: BTTS at 19/20 (General)
- This will be the third FA Cup encounter between Millwall and Sheffield United, with the other two coming in 1895 and 1914; the Blades progressed from both ties.
- Sheffield United won their last away visit to Millwall, a 3-2 win in the Championship in September 2018; none of the last 18 meetings between the sides at Millwall have ended as a draw.
- Since 1992-93, Millwall have eliminated seven Premier League teams from the FA Cup – no side who haven’t played in the Premier League themselves has done so more.
- Sheffield United have won their last four FA Cup ties against Championship opposition, most recently in the fourth round in 2017-18 against Preston.
- Sheffield United's Callum Robinson has scored five goals in four FA Cup starts, though four of those goals have come against non-league opponents (three vs Havant & Waterlooville, one vs AFC Fylde).
LISTEN: Latest football podcast - FA Cup upsets?
Will any of the Premier League big boys suffer an FA Cup upset this weekend?
Newcastle v Oxford
Newcastle needed a replay to get past Sky Bet League One Rochdale in round three and they face Karl Robinson's Oxford who are pushing for promotion this term.
Like most facing superior opposition, they have little to lose and plenty to gain so Newcastle will have to be on their game and changes to their XI, in a squad already hit by injury, could cause further disruption.
Steve Bruce's side conceded to Rochdale in both legs and Oxford have the quality to do the same. Attacker Marcus Browne, who arrived on loan from Middlesbrough earlier this month, has scored one goal in three appearances and possesses a threat.
The 22-year-old, who had been featuring for Jonathan Woodgate's side this term, averages over two shots per game for the U's and he will be keen to impress again for Robinson's men. At the anytime price available, he is a tempting scorer to back against Boro's north-east rivals.
Best bet: Marcus Browne to score anytime at 13/2
- Newcastle United and Oxford United have only faced in the FA Cup once previously, with the U’s winning 3-0 at the Kassam Stadium in the fourth round in 2016-17.
- Newcastle last hosted Oxford for a match in May 1993 in the second-tier, winning 2-1 under Kevin Keegan via goals from Lee Clark and Andy Cole.
- Newcastle haven’t reached the FA Cup fifth round since the 2005-06 season, going out at the fourth round stage on six occasions since then.
- Oxford are looking to progress to the FA Cup fifth round for only the seventh time in their history, last doing so in the 2016-17 season when they eliminated Newcastle at the fourth round stage.
- Newcastle manager Steve Bruce hasn’t faced Oxford since April 2001, when his Wigan side won 3-2 in a third-tier match.
Southampton v Tottenham
Spurs return to St Mary's less than a month after losing to Ralph Hasenhuttl's men and they will be seeking revenge.
With Jose Mourinho making no bones about his desire to go far in this competition, it is hard to look away from the visitors for this one.
Another interesting contest will be Mourinho coming face to face with the Southampton coaching member of staff who he called an 'idiot' after his booking.
With his intentions (we actually tipped them in our outright preview) he should field a strong side and, even though Hasenhuttl's side have improved drastically in the last couple of months, they still cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in the league.
Spurs want success and Mourinho wants it fast, so two goals for the hosts - with Dele Alli, Heung-min Son and co. stepping up in Harry Kane's absence - en route to the fifth round at a tasty 11/10 price is worth taking for us.
Best bet: Spurs to score 2+ goals at 11/10
- Southampton last faced Spurs in the FA Cup during the 2002-03 season, winning 4-0 in the third round – Saints went on to reach the final that season.
- Spurs have lost their last two away matches against Southampton, losing in the Premier League in March 2019 and January 2020.
- Since returning to the Premier League in 2012-13, Southampton have lost six of their eight FA Cup ties against fellow top-flight opponents (W2).
- Spurs’ Erik Lamela has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six FA Cup starts (3 goals, 4 assists), scoring their second goal in the 2-1 replay win over Middlesbrough in the third round.
- In his entire managerial career, Spurs boss José Mourinho has only lost two games against an opponent in the same calendar month once previously, losing two Champions League games against Real Madrid in February 2002 as FC Porto manager.
West Ham v West Brom
A tie full of intrigue as Slaven Bilic returns to his old side with his promotion-chasing Baggies, but as with so many of these games a lot will depend on the team sheets when they drop.
Just how strong will Bilic go as his West Brom side have been labouring of late and they badly need a kick-start in their Sky Bet Championship form a lot more than a run in the FA Cup right now.
You can make a case for and against both of these and it all depends on how their respective managers will line-up. David Moyes knows a deep FA Cup run can only enhanced his claims to stay longer than his 18 month contract but his side are also hanging precariously just above the relegation zone.
It would be close if both sides go strong, it would be close if both sides play a second string, but if it's a combination of the two then West Ham would have the edge, and as hosts they're a bit more likely to go strong for this one. Re-jigged sides often result in a lack of fluidity, cohesion, and ultimately goals.
- This is the 10th FA Cup meeting between West Ham and West Brom, last facing in February 2015 in the fifth round, a 4-0 win for the Baggies.
- West Brom have won none of their last nine away matches against West Ham (D6 L3), with all games coming in the Premier League between 2005 and 2018.
- West Ham haven’t lost a home FA Cup match against a team from outside the Premier League since January 1997, a 1-0 defeat to Wrexham; they are unbeaten in 12 since (W10 D2), winning the last eight in a row.
- West Brom manager Slaven Bilic hasn’t managed against West Ham since leaving the club in November 2017 – his only previous FA Cup match at London Stadium was as Hammers boss in January 2017, a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City.
- West Ham manager David Moyes is looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since leaving Everton at the end of 2012-13, failing with Man Utd in 2013-14, Sunderland in 2016-17 and the Hammers during 2017-18
Brentford v Leicester
- 1245 GMT kick-off on BBC One
Brentford are a force under Thomas Frank and currently sit fifth in the Sky Bet Championship. With Leicester having the Premier League and upcoming Carabao Cup semi-final second leg in their sights, the Bees can at least run them close.
Brendan Rodgers is likely to rotate his side, like we saw in the earlier stages of the EFL Cup, with players such as James Justin, Demarai Gray, Marc Albrighton and Dennis Praet expected to be handed opportunities to impress.
While promotion from the second tier is their bread and butter, the hosts have a free hit and a great chance to test themselves against a top-half Premier League side.
With the expectation of them running City close, the 11/8 available on a one-goal winning margin is tempting, with the benefit of either side doing so getting you the win.
If you fancy Leicester to edge it, that is a best price of 11/4 anytime but we will stick with the first option.
- Brentford and Leicester City haven’t met in the FA Cup since the 1948-49 season – the Foxes have knocked out the Bees in all three previous FA Cup ties they’ve faced (1935-36, 1946-47 and 1948-49).
- This is the first meeting between Brentford and Leicester in any competition since January 1993, when the Foxes won 3-1 in a second tier match.
- Brentford are looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round in back-to-back seasons for only the second time, also doing so in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
- Brentford have progressed from one of their last 12 FA Cup ties against top-flight opponents, winning 2-1 against Sunderland in January 2006 in a season the Black Cats finished bottom of the Premier League.
- Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has progressed from his last six FA Cup ties against lower-league opposition since losing 3-2 to Oldham Athletic in the fourth round in 2012-13 as Liverpool boss.
Odds correct at 1800 GMT on 23/01/20
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