Matt Le Tissier previews the weekend’s FA Cup action for FreeBets.com
I was asked today if I had any good FA Cup memories. I have a bad one! Getting sent off in Southampton’s quarter-final replay in 1992 when we were 1-0 up. Sunderland were in the league below us that year and we went on to lose 2-1 after extra-time. Norwich awaited in the semi-final and there’s always that sense of what might have been.
But I did score a few good Cup goals and back when I was playing it was the greatest cup competition in the world. It’s sadly lost its allure a little bit but the third round always throws up shocks and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s action.
However, I must stress, team selections will be key. Many managers will see little point in risking key men getting injured so check team sheets.
Brighton have a decent chance to cause the first surprise and knock out Newcastle. The Magpies haven’t won away in the league all season.
They certainly need Mathieu Debuchy, but the right-back won’t be available tomorrow and I’m guessing Alan Pardew won’t play a full strength team. They have a small squad and I’m sure he’ll use the opportunity to give some inexperienced players a run. Take the 8/5 with Paddy Power on a home win.
It will be an interesting game between Man City and Watford. The latter have moved into Championship play-off contention and the hosts can’t take them lightly.
This is a competition Roberto Mancini takes seriously, so don’t expect wholesale changes. They face an uphill struggle to win the league so this could be their best chance of silverware.
While I think they’ll have enough, Watford +1 on the Asian handicap is 17/5 with Bet365 and that looks big.
Joe Cole is likely to feature at some stage for West Ham, the club he rejoined this week, as they take on Man United in east London. The Red Devils have come unstuck here a few times in the past and are set for a tough match.
West Ham have the strength to force a replay and, while probably not good enough to win, the double chance at 5/4 with Betfred might be the way to go.
Team selection will be most important when looking at the Southampton v Chelsea game. The Saints have a six-pointer away at Aston Villa next week and I can see Nigel Adkins resting men.
Chelsea came unstuck against QPR and I can’t see Rafa Benitez leaving out the influential Juan Mata again. The boss will also have an eye on the League Cup semi-final but they should be too strong at 7/10 with BetVictor and can continue their excellent recent record in the comp.
Swansea did us a favour last time against Arsenal but I would fancy a weakened Gunners side over a weakened Swans one all day long and they have enough quality on the bench to gain a narrow win. 6/5 with Stan James is fair.