As Premier League teams emerge from their winter break, FA Cup fourth round signals top-flight teams’ emergence from hiatus, beginning on Friday night as Manchester United welcome Middlesbrough to Old Trafford.
Chris Wilder’s Boro’ are staging a push for a Premier League return this term, which makes for an intriguing clash in prospect here. Having won six of the last seven in all comps, the Teesiders fought back from a potential shock in R3 to win 3-2 at Mansfield. Boro’s hopes will be determined by how much rotation the visitors undertake, but in Andraz Sporar, the on-loan Sporting Clube de Portugal striker has been a real coup for the Championship side since his summer arrival. A Sporar goal in 90 mins at 5/1 with UniBet therefore, has potential bang.
If Sporar does not start, Arsenal starlet Flo Balogun could get a dream run out at Old Trafford and he also packs a punch at 11/2 anytime with Bet365 or boosted with William Hill. As for the outright result, Boro are a decent bet here versus opposition yet to truly settle under Ralf Rangnick, with events off the field potentially proving a distraction also. If is a price of 11/2 for Middlesbrough to qualify is too tall an ask, for Boro to force extra time alone, SkyBet and QuinnBet’s offering of 17/4 looks, potentially, a nice flutter.
Of the three all-Premier League ties in R4, Everton’s home duel with Brentford looks like it might bring goals. In Frank Lampard’s first game in charge of the Toffees, the Merseysiders are in dire need of cheer and a place in the last 16 would be the tonic. But the visiting Bees could supply a sting yet and will fancy finding the net versus a porous Everton back line, so over 2.5 goals at evens looks good to double your money.
Two non-league sides remain in the draw for R4 meanwhile, with both facing opponents from the top two tiers. Whilst Boreham Wood’s trip to Bournemouth is surely a step too far, Kidderminster Harriers entertain West Ham United, with more potential of a cupset in prospect. Knocking out Reading last time out, Kiddie have now won six of the last seven cup ties on home soil, so the Irons might be in for a tricky Saturday lunchtime. The hosts’ price for an outright win in 90 mins is yo-yoing between 12s and 16s, but remembering there is no replay, odds of 17/2 for Kidderminster to force extra time – similarly to Middlesbrough – is one to consider.
Elsewhere in the draw, a feisty-looking Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield Town and Barnsley awaits at the John Smith’s, with both sides currently at opposites end of the Championship table. With a place in R5 up for grabs though, this has a little more on it than local pride. The Terriers look a fairly safe bet at 7/10 with most bookmakers.
At The City Ground, Nottingham Forest look to record another upset against Leicester City in an East Midlands meeting, after putting out Arsenal in R3. A rested Foxes however, will be primed for this clash and it is hard to see any other result than a win for the Premier League side at a reasonable 11/10 with MansionBet.
Finally, can Cambridge United prove their victory over Newcastle United was no flash in the pan, as they face East Anglian neighbours Luton Town at the Abbey Stadium? The U’s have a decent record at home this season, however, Luton’s away form is impressive. The Hatters have won the last three on the road in The Championship and their odds reflect that at 23/20 with QuinnBet, but could the hosts yet take down another upper tier opponent? 11/4 odds with UniBet and Bet365 says they can.