Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The 4th Round of the FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend with the highlight Friday night’s clash between the two most successful club’s in the competition’s history. Once again Brand Ambassador Michael Owen previewed the major ties exclusively with BetVictor.
These two great clubs have played each other 14 times previously in the FA Cup and they have eliminated each other seven times apiece. On the last three occasions Arsenal have knocked out United (2003 5th Round, 2005 Final & 2015 ¼ Final) the Gunners have gone on to lift the Trophy, but I fancy United to go marching on under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It was hard not to be impressed with Arsenal against Chelsea at the Emirates last weekend. The Gunners played with intensity and pace from the opening whistle and ran out emphatic winners against a disappointing Blues’ side.
United look full of goals at present, however, with Marcus Rashford scoring in his last four PL games. I expect to see a cracking Cup tie, but it is United who I feel will make it through to the 5th Round.
Tip: United to win and both teams to score at 10/3
Frank Lampard’s Derby side have qualified from ties at Old Trafford and St Mary’s in cup competitions so far this season and I expect the Rams’ to progress in east Lancashire.
Stanley have not won since the 3rd round success over Ipswich at the Crown Ground earlier in the month, and they are likely to find Derby a different proposition.
Tip: Derby to win at 20/23
At the time of writing – before their trip to the Pirelli Stadium Burton – City have won their last six games in all competitions by an aggregate score of 27-2 and it is hard to see Burnley stopping Pep Guardiola’s side in their present mood.
The sides met in the competition 12 months ago with City running out comfortable 4-1 winners in Round 3 and it would not surprise me if there were three goals between the sides again at the weekend.
Tip: City -2 on the handicap at 7/10
Seven goals in their last two games for Newcastle but, more importantly, three valuable Premier League points courtesy of an emphatic 3-0 win over Cardiff at the weekend.
United have already taken four points from Watford in the league this season although the Hornets will feel aggrieved to come away from St James’s Park earlier in the campaign with nothing to show for their efforts, having created a number of chances in their 1-0 defeat.
The sides played out a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road over Christmas and I feel it will take a replay to split these evenly-matched sides.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw at 23/10
Having disposed of Liverpool in the previous round I cannot see past a comfortable win for Wolves who put four past Leicester City in a seven-goal thriller at the weekend.
The Shrews saw off Championship side Stoke City in the previous round, but they did lose their last home league game 3-0 to League One title challengers Charlton earlier in the month and I expect the Premier League side to progress.
Tip: Wolves halftime/fulltime at 29/20
Swansea are unbeaten in their last five games and put up one of the performances of the 3rd round when winning 3-0 at Villa Park.
The Gills were roundly beaten at home by Walsall at the weekend and I cannot see past a comfortable home win for an improving Swansea.
Tip: Swansea to win at 1/2
Everton continue to frustrate but they have won their last 10 FA Cup ties against non-Premier League sides and I expect that run to continue in south London at the weekend.
The Lions were disappointed to come away from the Riverside Stadium with just a point against promotion chasing Middlesbrough at the weekend, but Everton do have the superior class which I feel will prevail although I expect the hosts to have their moments in an intriguing tie.
Tip: Everton to win and both teams to score at 13/5
These sides met in the League Cup at the Cherry Red Records Stadium earlier in the season and West Ham ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
The Irons disappointed at Bournemouth last weekend, but the Dons were no match at home to promotion chasing Barnsley. It would be no surprise to me if we saw a repeat scoreline of the League Cup tie back in August.
Tip: West Ham to win and both teams to score at 9/4
The last six games between the clubs in all competitions have all finished 1-0 with Spurs winning five of those half dozen games.
The Eagles played their part in a terrific game at Anfield on Saturday, but Spurs showed their mettle to come from behind to win at Craven Cottage 24-hours later. Spurs may not want a replay with the Champions League last 16 ties with Borussia Dortmund on the horizon, but I feel they will be grateful for another crack at Palace back at Wembley in what looks like being one of the ties of the round.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1 at 6/1
Holders Chelsea have a good record against non-Premier League ties qualifying from 47 of their last 49 ties and I expect Maurizio Sarri’s side to beat a Wednesday side who will be cheered on by 6,000 Owls’ supporters.
Steve Bruce will have to do without central defender Michael Hector who is ineligible as Chelsea is his parent club. The Owls don’t score many goals – just seven in their last nine games – but they are solid defensively and they look sure to give a good account of themselves at the Bridge.
Tip: Chelsea to win to nil at 21/20
Barnet are looking to become just the fifth non-league side in the last 25 years to reach the fifth round of the competition, but I feel they will just fall short against a Brentford side unbeaten in their last seven.
Having won at Bramall Lane in the last round the non-League Bees will not fear the Championship Bees, but I feel it will be Brentford who make it through to the last 16 at the first time of asking.
Tip: Brentford to win and both teams to score at 5/2
Michael’s FA Cup treble: Swansea, Derby and West Ham at 7/2