15 Premier League sides survived the third round of the FA Cup, so freebets.com preview the coming fourth round fixtures that pits current holders Arsenal against Brighton among many tight clashes that could produce an upset or two.
Manchester United open proceedings away at Cambridge United on Friday evening, before the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham all take part on Saturday, Crystal Palace’s visit to Southampton the only all Premier League affair. Sunday then sees West Ham, Aston Villa and Arsenal all in action, before Stoke travel to Rochdale on Monday.
What are the biggest giant-killing odds available on the market however? We look at a few of those potential upsets.
Blackburn v Swansea (Sat 24 Jan – 12.45pm)
Chris Taylor scored twice for Blackburn in the third round as Rovers beat 10-man Charlton to reach the FA Cup’s fourth round, a tie they will fancy their chances of success in against a recently beanten up Swansea City.
The Swans were thumped 5-0 by a rampant Chelsea in a Premier League match that resembled a training pitch for the Blues last weekend, the away side no longer with the aid of their top scorer, Wilfried Bony – now departed to Manchester City. Yet to win a Premier League game since Boxing Day, Swansea’s third round trouncing of Tranmere will be more convincing statistics to look by as Bafetimbi Gomis struck twice in the 2-6 away win, Swansea also still profitable at 29/20 to win (BetVictor).
Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes was of course the top scorer in England with 36 league goals in the 2011–12 season, although you have to look back to as far as 20 December for the side’s last domestic league win. The FA Cup is a different matter though, so it remains wide open on paper.
Manchester City v Middlesbrough (Sat 24 Jan – 3pm)
Manchester City hit a brick wall against Arsenal as a 2-0 defeat followed a 1-1 draw with Everton in their Premier League battle to hold onto their crown, the FA Cup having eluded Manchester since Yaya Toure sealed City’s 2011 victory over Stoke.
Their most recent win over Cardiff City was a 14th of the season to put them just a point from the top of the Championship table, the 1997 FA Cup runners-up sealing a comfortable trip into the fourth round on this occasion thanks to a 2-0 win at Barnsley to set up a dream clash at the Etihad with the current Premier League champions.
City have Sergio Aguero back to cause problems if needed, although Patrick Bamford has looked strong on his loan from Chelsea with eight goals in the second-tier league while Grant Leadbitter holds 10 to his name. Middlesbrough were unlucky not to beat Liverpool in a League Cup thriller on penalties, although Man City’s defeats to Wigan in recent seasons show that anything is possible with a confident team.
Chelsea v Bradford (Sat 24 Jan – 3pm)
After beating Championship strugglers Millwall in a superb 4-0 performance on 14 January, League One side Bradford will face the stiffest task of Premier League leaders Chelsea in their fourth-round clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The former League Cup runners-up must be mentioned after they famously knocked out the likes of Arsenal in that Capital One Cup showcase two seasons ago, although defeating Chelsea would top that considerably. Expect a Chelsea victory after the side have at times looked better than ever before in the Premier League, only beaten twice in all competitions so far this season and coming off the back of a 5-0 win at Swansea.
Liverpool v Bolton (Sat 24 Jan – 5.30pm, BT Sport)
The Reds finally appear to be heading on the right track now after climbing to within just five points of the Premier League’s top five, but an eighth FA Cup triumph and first since 2006 would be a real coup for Brendan Rodgers after a tricky campaign thus far.
Liverpool may have to keep an eye out for their former player, Emile Heskey, who netted on his return to english football with a second-half goal against Blackburn after plying his trade in Australia with Newcastle Jets.
While Liverpool avoided a defeat to AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the current FA Cup to avenge the 1988 final, while Bolton teenage forward Zach Clough scored on his debut to help Wanderers into the fourth round at the expense of Championship rivals and former Cup winners, Wigan.
Bristol City v West Ham (Sun 25 Jan – 2pm, BBC One)
Four comfortable wins for Bristol City have moved them to second in League One, their top scorer Aaron Wilbraham having netted 10 times in the league while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas struck twice in the third round 2-0 win over Doncaster to secure a televised fourth-round home tie against West Ham.
The Hammers had to battle hard through a replay against fellow Premier League side Everton in the third round, goalkeeper Adrian eventually the hero as he netted the winning penalty in a tense shoot-out.
Sam Allardyce’s men look on terrific form in 2014/15 so far, Andy Carroll already having netted five goals since his return from injury late in 2014 while Stewart Downing has likewise thrived since the season began.
Aston Villa v Bournemouth (Sun 25 Jan – 3pm, Setanta Sports)
On paper, both are a profit in this match; Bournemouth due to their irresistible current form and goalscoring record of 57 goals just in the Championship alone, Aston Villa meanwhile for their Premier League status and known talent within their side.
However, Villa have struggled drastically to find the back of the net this season with only 11 goals in the Premier League this season and five league ties without a goal in succession and counting. Those struggles were displayed further in between those ties as Christian Benteke scored two minutes from the time in the FA Cup third round to save Villa from embarrassment against Championship strugglers, Blackpool.
Bournemouth endured a recent defeat to Leeds on Tuesday evening which was a shock to the system, but the away side will be more than capable of handing Villa an early FA Cup exit.
Brighton v Arsenal (Sun 25 Jan – 4pm, BT Sport)
Two years ago, Theo Walcott’s deflected late 85th-minute winner settled a tense encounter and sent Arsenal into the FA Cup fifth round at the expense of battling Brighton, this time the pair meeting a round sooner and with Arsenal seemingly better equipped.
Chris Hughton’s Brighton reign got off to a winning start in the third round of the Cup as the Seagulls struck two late goals to beat fellow Championship side, Brentford. The current FA Cup winners however you would expect to come out on top with their heads held high following Arsenal’s away 0-2 victory in the Premier League over Manchester City, although the pressure of holding onto their long-awaited crown still looms.
The man who netted twice on that day was Olivier Giroud, Arsenal pegged back by a Brighton side now equipped with Leon Best – loaned from Blackburn – who was well remembered for his role in rejuvinating the 4-4 fightback for Newcastle United against the Gunners in 2011.