The FA Cup third round continues on Sunday with a number of games. Tom Carnduff and George Pitts pick out their best bets.
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Charlton v West Brom (Tom Carnduff)
West Brom are 1/4 for promotion to the Premier League this season, given their nine-point cushion over third, so it remains to be seen just how seriously they take the FA Cup this season.
Charlton have experienced a real dip in results as the weeks have gone on but that can be put down to a ridiculously long injury list. It's at a point where Lee Bowyer is having to use youth players recalled from loans in non-league.
Bowyer won't be making many changes for this game even with their current injury woes.
"You know me – I normally just change things around and give the lads a rest," he said.
"If I make five or six changes then who is going to be starting? It is not fair on players when they go out and play against a West Brom who are up there in our league. That can be when the young lads get a thumping – 5-0 or 6-0. It’s not fair."
They have been active in the transfer market already with Andre Green joining on loan from Aston Villa and there's a good chance he will make his debut in front of their own supporters.
Charlton have shown little issue in finding the back of the net, even with multiple first team players missing, and you'd back them to score a couple against a West Brom team expected to make a few changes.
Green can be backed at a best price of 15/4 to net anytime on Sunday, a price worth taking given his likely involvement.
Best bet: Andre Green to score anytime at 15/4
- Charlton and West Brom last met in the FA Cup in the third round in the 2007-08 season, with the Baggies progressing via a penalty shootout in a replay.
- West Brom have won just one of their last 15 away matches against Charlton in all competitions (D6 L8), a 4-1 victory in the Premier League in March 2005.
- Charlton are looking to reach the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, when they went all the way to the quarter-final.
- West Brom manager Slaven Bilic last managed in the FA Cup in January 2017, losing a third round match 5-0 against Manchester City as West Ham manager.
- Charlton have been eliminated in their last three FA Cup ties against sides from the same division as them, most recently last season at home to Doncaster in the second round.
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest (Tom Carnduff)
Nottingham Forest are in the large group of teams going for promotion in the Sky Bet Championship this season.
Much like their league rivals though, consistency has been a big issue. Leeds and West Brom, both sitting in the automatic promotion places, have only managed one win in their last five each and yet still find themselves nine points clear of third.
Forest have won their last three though and scored three last time out as they beat Blackburn. Positive steps for a side desperate for a striker to come in during the January transfer window.
It'll be intriguing to see who Sabri Lamouchi uses in that striker role at Stamford Bridge. Lewis Grabban is the obvious preferred candidate but Sammy Ameobi may get the nod, with Albert Adomah a potential too after he played up front in the Carabao Cup defeat at Arsenal.
In the markets though, there's big appeal in taking the 25/1 on Forest defender Tobias Figueiredo netting anytime here.
Forest's best chance of a goal may be from set-pieces. Joe Lolley has demonstrated his ability to deliver a quality ball, as has Tiago Silva when he is on the duties instead.
Interestingly, 26% of Forest's league goals this season have also come from a set-piece situation. It's something that is also reflected in Figueiredo's shots statistics. The centre-back has registered eight shots in 12 league games this season which is a high mark for a defender.
That's led to two goals and his aerial presence could be a problem for the Chelsea backline. Half of his league games this season have seen at least three aerials won, with five against Blackburn, six against Wigan and an incredible eight in their away defeat at Huddersfield.
The 25/1 available looks a very generous price given the contest, one in which Forest can get themselves on the scoresheet.
- This is the fifth time Chelsea and Nottingham Forest have met in an FA Cup tie – the Blues have progressing from all four, including a third round 2-0 win last season.
- Nottingham Forest have lost their last five away matches against Chelsea in all competitions, with three of those defeats coming in FA Cup meetings.
- Chelsea have been eliminated from just two of their last 50 FA Cup ties against teams from outside the Premier League, losing 1-0 to Barnsley in 2008 and 4-2 against Bradford City in 2015.
- Nottingham Forest were eliminated by Chelsea in the third round last season – the last team to knock Forest out of the FA Cup in consecutive seasons were Liverpool in 1987-88 and 1988-89.
- In seven matches in domestic cup competitions (FA/League Cup) for Chelsea against lower-league opposition, striker Michy Batshuayi has scored 10 goals and assisted three more, including scoring a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in a League Cup match in September 2017.
Crystal Palace v Derby (George Pitts)
With Crystal Palace looking like they should be free of a relegation battle in the second half of the campaign, you would think another FA Cup run would be nice for the club after reaching the quarter-finals last year.
But Roy Hodgson could have as many as eight first-team injuries to deal with and they face a tough task against Sky Bet Championship outfit Derby at Selhurst Park.
Phillip Cocu’s side also have injuries and suspensions to deal with, as well as having only played on Thursday evening, but even so the 3/1 price on them in the draw no bet market catches the eye.
Palace have won just one of their last six and earlier in the season were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Colchester on penalties. With the hosts much changed, the Rams can at least net a couple win, lose or draw, and the 3/1 catches the eye here.
Best bet: Derby to score 2+ goals at 3/1
- This will be only the second FA Cup meeting between Crystal Palace and Derby, with the Rams winning the previous game 1-0 in the third round in January 2012.
- Derby last faced Crystal Palace in March 2013 in the Championship, losing 1-0 at Pride Park under Nigel Clough.
- Crystal Palace are unbeaten in 12 home FA Cup matches against sides from a lower division (W11 D1) since losing 2-1 to Millwall in January 1985.
- When playing outside the top-flight, Derby have won just one of their last 23 FA Cup matches against top-flight opponents (W1 D6 L16), a 2-1 win at West Brom in January 2017.
- As a top-flight manager, Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson has progressing from 10 of his 11 FA Cup ties with lower league opponents, failing only in January 2008 against Bristol Rovers with Fulham.
Middlesbrough v Tottenham (George Pitts)
The long wait for silverware is hanging over Spurs and the sooner Jose Mourinho can end that, the better.
The FA Cup is the perfect opportunity for them to secure a trophy this season. With the Carabao Cup and Premier League title already over for them, it is that or the Champions League.
Mourinho takes this competition seriously, guiding Man United to the final in 2017/18, and winning it with Chelsea in 2006/07. With two defeats and a draw in the four games over the Christmas period, the Portuguese boss will be keen to return to winning ways and even with a rotated team they should not slip up here.
With Heung-min Son returning from a three-match suspension, it is a chance for the South Korean to get his match fitness back up to speed. With this in mind, and his attacking role in this team, the 8/5 anytime price looks worth taking on a player who has an average of just under three shots per game and 10 goals this season.
Best bet: Heung-min Son to score anytime at 8/5
- Middlesbrough and Spurs haven’t met in the FA Cup since January 1966, a 4-0 victory for Spurs. Boro’ have been eliminated on each of the three occasions they’ve faced Spurs in the FA Cup.
- Spurs have won their last three matches against Middlesbrough, last facing them in February 2017 in the Premier League.
- Middlesbrough have been eliminated from eight of their last nine FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents, progressing only against Man City in January 2015 in this run.
- Spurs have progressed from 38 of their last 40 FA Cup ties against non-top flight opponents, failing only against Leicester in January 2006 and Leeds in January 2013.
- This is Jose Mourinho’s first FA Cup match since the 2018 final, a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea as Man Utd manager. Mourinho has won 13 of his 14 FA Cup matches against lower-league opposition, losing only to Bradford City in January 2015 with Chelsea.
QPR v Swansea (Tom Carnduff)
Another all-Championship clash sees Swansea travel to QPR.
Mark Warburton's R's welcomed in 2020 in the best possible style, thrashing Cardiff 6-1 at Loftus Road. For Swansea, they moved into the play-off places after a 1-0 victory over struggling Charlton. This one appears to be a game where both sides want to win.
The value in this contest lies in the corner markets with both seeing a low amount on average compared with the rest of their division.
QPR's average of 9.69 per game sees them sitting in 22nd in the corner standings - while Swansea find themselves in 13th with a 10.54 average.
Their first-half averages are very low. Swansea see 2.50 corners per game in the opening 45 minutes, while QPR are at 2.65.
Going off those averages we should expect to see the corner count standing at around the three or four mark when the half-time whistle is blown. At a price of 11/10 with Sky Bet, it appears to be the most attractive prospect in this game.
Best bet: Under 4.5 first-half corners at 11/10
- QPR and Swansea City last met in the FA Cup in the 2001-02 season in the first round, a 4-0 home win for the Swans.
- Swansea have already beaten QPR once at Loftus Road this season, winning 3-1 in a Championship clash in August.
- QPR have been eliminated from the FA Cup third round on 49 occasions – the only side to be eliminated more at this stage are Plymouth Argyle (50).
- Steve Cooper is the seventh manager in as many seasons to take charge of Swansea in the FA Cup third round – Laudrup, Monk, Curtis, Clement, Carvalhal and Potter are the previous six, stretching back to 2013-14.
- Although QPR are Mark Warburton’s third Football League club as manager, he has managed just once previously in the FA Cup, losing 0-2 against Brighton in the third round in 2014-15 with Brentford.
Sheffield United v AFC Fylde (Tom Carnduff)
Chris Wilder was furious with his Sheffield United side when they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Barnet last season.
"No complaints," Wilder said on their 1-0 loss at Bramall Lane. "We're quite fortunate that it's not been two or three. They were the better team in every part of the game.
"I said to the boys, 'don't go out through the main entrance, you don't deserve it. Find a door to sneak out of'. It was a performance of arrogance, going off plan and doing what they wanted to.
"The fans should have booed the players louder - we've got an identity of playing and we are a team that has a go. We went out the back door today - that is incredibly difficult for me to take."
Even with a solid Premier League campaign ongoing, Wilder will ensure that his players don't suffer the same fate this time around.
He has admitted though that he will give his players a rest and put out a different looking Blades squad for the game against the National League side.
After the Liverpool game, Wilder admitted: "I was going to play a strong team in the FA Cup but looking what Christmas has taken out of my players I will, I apologise, make 11 changes and give some other lads a chance."
That could see 90 minutes for Ben Osborn, with the wide midfielder seeing limited opportunities since his summer switch from Nottingham Forest.
While the Blades usually line-up with two wing-backs, this game could see them revert to two more attack-minded wingers instead as they did in the Carabao Cup, with Osborn and Kieron Freeman either side.
Against weaker opposition, the home side should score a few goals and a price of 7/1 is worth taking on Osborn to be among them.
Best bet: Ben Osborn to score anytime at 7/1
- This is the first ever competitive meeting between Sheffield United and AFC Fylde.
- Sheffield United were eliminated by non-league opponents in last season’s FA Cup third round, losing 0-1 to Barnet at Bramall Lane.
- On two of the last six occasions a non-league team has played away from home in the FA Cup at a top-flight side they have won (Luton v Norwich in 2013, Lincoln v Burnley in 2017). Prior to this, on only two of the previous 84 occasions this happened had the non-league side been victorious.
- AFC Fylde have never progressed in the FA Cup proper against a side in the top-four tiers of English football – all three of their wins have been against fellow non-league outfits.
- This is AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley’s ninth season as a manager in the FA Cup but his first match in the third round – he last faced Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder back in January 2016 in a League Two match, losing 1-3 as manager of Morecambe against Northampton Town.
Liverpool v Everton (George Pitts)
It remains to be seen how seriously Liverpool will take this competition.
It looked like a great opportunity to give fringe players a chance to impress, but Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Rhian Brewster are among those expected to be sidelined with injury.
Liverpool only played in the Premier League on Thursday and maintaining their lead at the top remains a priority, so a number of the youngsters we saw at Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup last month could be thrown in with first team players here. But at the same time, this is a derby match and Liverpool will not want to lose to their rivals.
With the unpredictability of the hosts' XI, the preference is to look at the visiting side in the betting. Carlo Ancelotti takes charge of his first Merseyside derby and the Italian knows how to get something from Liverpool - beating them twice and drawing once in the last 18 months with Napoli in the Champions League.
Everton had been short of goals under Marco Silva and since Ancelotti's arrival, helped by the form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, they are improving and looking to create more threatening chances.
With Liverpool's defence likely to be missing Virgil van Dijk, Lovren and Matip, Everton could look to exploit the inexperience and regularly create opportunities at Anfield.
With this in mind, the odds against price for them to have at least 11 shots does have appeal. In regular games, this is not a tough ask with blocked efforts, ambitious punts and aimless shots or scuffs all counting.
The Toffees actually average over 13 per game in the league this term and in the recent win at Newcastle racked up an impressive 22.
Against what will probably be a second-string Liverpool XI, the 6/5 available on Everton having at least 11 efforts looks worth taking.
Best bet: 11+ Everton shots at 6/5
- Liverpool and Everton have met in the FA Cup 24 times previously, making it the most played match in the history of the competition.
- Everton have played five away matches against Liverpool in the FA Cup – four have been drawn and gone to replays, though the most recent match in January 2018 was won 2-1 by the Reds.
- Liverpool have lost each of their last two FA Cup matches, losing to West Brom in January 2018 and Wolves in January 2019 – they haven’t lost three in a row in the competition since January 1954.
- Everton have been eliminated in the FA Cup third round in three of the last five seasons, having been eliminated at this stage in just three of the previous 16 before that.
- Liverpool striker Divock Origi has scored in all four of his home matches against Everton in all competitions, including a brace in their 5-2 Premier League win in December 2019.
Gillingham v West Ham (George Pitts)
If this game was a couple of weeks ago, Gillingham would have been a great bet.
The latter stages of Manuel Pellegrini’s reign had all the makings of an FA Cup upset. The Hammers’ great start to the season essentially turned once they lost 4-0 to third tier Oxford in the Carabao Cup in September and you would not have trusted them here.
But with David Moyes back in the building and instantly winning 4-0 (albeit against struggling Bournemouth) it is hard to see them slipping up so early in his reign.
In fact, in our outright FA Cup preview, Paul Higham has tipped them to reach the latter stages at some attractive prices and you cannot argue against it, should they get a generous draw of course.
There was a temptation to back Andriy Yarmolenko to take his opportunity but the 11/4 price on Robert Snodgrass is more appealing. The Scot should start at Priestfield and is looking to add to his three-goal tally, with his most recent one coming against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day.
The attacker is a consistent performer and is always willing and able to dig in for tough fixtures like this. He has had four shots in his last three Premier League appearances and he always possesses a danger cutting in onto his favoured left foot from the right.
These ties always have the banana skin potential, but surely not so early in Moyes’ reign with players looking to impress their new boss.
- This is the first ever FA Cup meeting between Gillingham and West Ham United.
- West Ham and Gillingham have met four times previously, all in the second tier in 2003-04 and 2004-05 – the Hammers won three of those four matches, losing the other at the Priestfield Stadium in September 2003.
- Gillingham have reached the FA Cup fourth round just once in their previous 15 seasons, doing so last season – they last did so in consecutive seasons in 2003-04 (five in a row).
- In each of the last two seasons, the side eliminating West Ham from the FA Cup has been from League One – Wigan in 2017-18 and AFC Wimbledon in 2018-19.
- West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has progressed from all four of his previous FA Cup third round ties (three with Man City, one with West Ham).
Odds correct at 1420 GMT (03/01/20)