West Ham left it late, Leicester went to VAR, and Jon Dadi Boedvarsson led the charge with a hat-trick as The Royals swept aside the insurgents from Stevenage to book a fourth-round place in the FA Cup. Will we see such drama tonight? Who’ll join them?
Chelsea host Norwich hoping to render the chirpy Canaries silent, Swansea take on the Championship’s alpha dogs, Wolves, hoping they arrive toothless and leave with their tail between their legs, and the Latics will be hoping to gorge on a plateful of Cherries at the DW Stadium tonight.
Of course, this is the FA Cup and anything can happen. Will we see a night of upsets? Perhaps perhaps not! We’ve a selection of specials across both days of the replays.
CHELSEA 2 V 1 NORWICH
In a year of record-breaking footballing achievements, reigning champions Chelsea come into this game having set one themselves, albeit one that Conte and his Chelsea will not want to claim ownership of: Following on from their 0-0 draw against the Canaries, they suffered subsequent goalless draws against Arsenal and Leicester, the first time in the club’s history that they’ve been held to three consecutive 0-0 draws. Despite Man. City’s thrilling loss to Liverpool at the weekend, defending their title is surely beyond The Blues, so we’d expect Conte to give the cups his full attention. However, he needs his players to buy into this: Morata is out-of-sorts, Hazard seems disinterested, and new-signing Ross Barkley wasn’t registered in time to feature. The often-overlooked Michy Bashuayi has been given the nod and Conte will hope his takes the chance with both hands. After all, the cups may suffer from a degree of snobbery in this modern form of the game, but Conte knows that he could be supping in the last chance salon tonight.
Norwich travel to west London knowing that Chelsea have won seven of the last eight matches between the two at Stamford Bridge. However, they also know that history is there to be rewritten, and after the first clash at Carrow Road they’ll feel they have nothing to fear. They beat Manchester United’s conquerors Bristol City 1-0 at the weekend, courtesy of a James Maddison goal, and they are yet to concede in their last five games. If they can keep it tight then anything can happen: it’s the cup, after all!
What We Sayin’?
Chelsea win this, right? Mmmmm. We’ve a feeling this could be tighter than many may envisage. Could it go to extra time? Possibly! One thing to note is the fact that Stuart Attwell is reffing the game: with 43 yellows and one red in 12 games (9 PL, 3 Championship) the overs point market could be of interest. So, off the fence, our bets are:
- BTTS - Yes | 6/4
- Maddison 1st GS | 20/1
- Batysuhi 1st GS | 11/4
- Chelsea 2-1 | 15/2
SWANSEA 0 V 0 WOLVES
Rock bottom of the Premier League and sinking without a trace, the Swans host the alpha dogs of the Championship, Wolves, in a game they’ll be desperate to win, if only to keep their recent unbeaten run going. Carlos Carvalhal has steadied the Swans a little, but with only one win in their last eight games, consistency is key for their survival. Their problem has been up front, with just five goals in these eight matches, and at home they have managed just two goals in their last seven competitive games. They took the lead away at Newcastle on Saturday, but were clinging on for the draw come full time. It could be they’ll welcome the distraction of the cup, but they’ll need to be fully prepared for Wolves, these dogs do bite!
Ten points clear at the top of the Championship, life’s rosy for the top dogs in England’s seconds tier, right? Well, it’s not bad, but Wolves are suffering something of a blip themselves, their draw with Barnsley, made it two wins and three draws from their last five competitive matches. Don’t cry wolf just yet: they ARE unbeaten since October and have kept five clean sheets in their last seven away games. Their problem is, like Swansea, they’ve starting struggling up front. They’re not exactly toothless, but boss Nuno Espírito Santo will be looking to put the bite on sorry Swansea tonight!
Swansea are sweating on the fitness of Tammy Abraham, Mike Van der Hoorn, and Renato Sanches, whilst Angel Rangel is definitely out. Wolves arrive without any injury worries of their own.
What We Sayin’?
Swansea need to adopt a ‘big club’ mentality for this one. They are the Premier League outfit after all. They have the upper hand over Wolves, with three wins, three draws and a single loss in their last seven games against the Championship leaders. That said, they have scored just two goals in their last seven competitive home matches… sore reading if you’re a Swans fan, but food for thought for us looking to make a few quid!
- BTTS - No | 3/4
- Wolves +1 | 11/20
- Wolves to qualify | 19/20
- 0-0 draw | 13/2
WIGAN 2 V 2 BOURNEMOUTH
Wigan come into this game unbeaten in six and will be confident they can provide a stern test for Bournemouth, who had to come from two goals behind to snatch a draw last time out. The Latics drew 0-0 with Peterborough last time out, a result made all the more surprising given the fact they’ve scored 26 goals in their last 12 games! Manager Paul Cook has rustled up a hearty blend of a mean defence and exciting attack that’s serving up excitement and results in equal measure. At the DW they’ll be confident of gobbling up the Cherries, for starters!
We’re all about balance here! Whilst Wigan have scored 26 in 12 games, Bournemouth have conceded the same number! They’re unbeaten in five, a run that includes Saturday’s stirring fightback against Arsenal, when they came from behind to shoot down the Gunners 2-1. However, boss Eddie Howe will be mindful of the threat Wigan possess, and the fact that his charges have shipped nine goals in their last five games won’t have calmed his nerves any. Does he take up the challenge and go toe-to-toe with Wigan? Bournemouth don’t have the greatest away record, but sitting back could be fatal. A conundrum, for sure!
Craig Morgan is injured for the hosts, though Cook may recall Jamie Jones for this one. Bournemouth are without Jermain Defoe and Tyrone Mings, whilst Josh King and Junior Stanislas both face late fitness checks.
What We Sayin’?
Stat Attack? Goals! Wigan have seen at least three goals in 50% of their last eight games, whilst Bournemouth have at least three in their last eight, failing to keep a clean sheet in any of them!
- BTTS - Yes | 10/11
- BTTS + 2.5 goals | 11/10
- Draw | 13/5
- Wigan 1st goal | 8/11
- 2-2 draw | 12/1
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