FA Cup 4th Round Preview – Dan De Luca

FA cup 4th round is upon as, and the biggest shock of the round has likely already occurred thanks to Manchester United scoring in the first Half of a match.

That leaves me scratching around elsewhere for a cup upset.┬áSpurs travel to Colchester early doors but I can’t see the U’s being able to cause a shock, they are in terrible form and whilst I expect Spurs to play a weakened team, the big boys will be rolled off the bench if the clock his the hour mark.

The big boys have largely avoided each other and still I’m struggling to find the cupset. Burnley have been in good form and may put up a fight for an hour but I expect Arsenal to show their class later on in the match and get the job done.
Villa won’t beat Manchester City despite turning a corner of late and I expect wins for Everton and Chelsea tomorrow.

The upsets could come from the games featuring the 2 promoted sides. Watford’s early season promise has petered out dramatically and Nottingham Forest are enjoying their best run of form since topping the championship early last season.

One of the ties of the round sees a south coast derby between Pompey and Bournemouth and the home side should feel bullish about their chances. The atmosphere should be electric and the FA Cup holds a big place in Pompey’s recent history. Throw in the Derby element and I think the Pompey chimes could be playing at the final whistle despite the 3 division gap between the clubs.

A team who will fancy a decent cup are West Ham, having a great season and after winning at Anfield for the first time in 50 years earlier this season will hold no fears in going there again in a repeat of the 2006 final. Dimitri Payet looks a real player and the balance of skill pace and power has propelled West Ham this season. After 120 tough minutes midweek Liverpool will be leggy, and their squad is ravaged by injury. You might see a lot of the same old faces and given their unimpressive season are there for the taking.

A couple of bets to add some magic to the cup.

FA CUP 8-Folds – Pays 34-1
Tottenham
Man City
West Ham or draw
Forest or draw
Pompey or draw
Arsenal
Hull
Everton
Nice bets
Arsenal vs Burnley – time of last goal – after 75 mins – 10/11

Villa vs City – City to score in both halves – 13/8

Forest vs Watford – Double Chance & BTTS – Forest or draw & Yes – 13/8

Doubles and Trebles. Treble on the above pays 13/1

Dan De Luca’s thoughts on the FA Cup!

Even though the FA cup has lost some of it’s magic over the last decade and a half, that doesn’t make the 3rd round Saturday any less of a landmark weekend in any football season. Particularly for the minnows who sweat blood and tears to make it this far and earn a chance to mix it with the big boys. Try telling little Eastleigh that the FA cup isn’t important when they entertain Bolton Wanderers today.

Shame on any team who do not do their utmost best to be lifting the cup under the Wembley Arch in May.

The draw has been kind to the teams at the top of the Premier League this year, apart from that Tottenham and Leicester play each other in one of 6 all premiership ties.

TV Scheduling has meant the 3rd round is already underway, Liverpool (reserves or otherwise) stinking the place out as usual scraping a draw at Exeter. An Anfield replay under the lights for the League two side so close to extinction less than a decade ago is an example of why this cup is so important to English Football.

It’s hard to predict results in the FA cup early rounds, with no idea who is going to field weakened sides. The last 3 years particularly have seen the Premier League sides not have things so easy compared to before when playing weakened teams. That has been in the case in the League cup also.

Hard to predict the cup winner as well without knowing what future draws may bring but my tip for the cup is Arsenal. Capable of beating anyone at home and anyone except Stoke away ?, who would dismiss them becoming the first side to win 3 in a row since Blackburn in the late 1800’s. This cup has been kind to Arsene Wenger over the years, he’s won it an impressive 6 times and a fortuitous shootout win against Wigan in the Semi Final in 2015 on the way to cup victory, I’m certain kept him his job and the faith of his staunchest supporters.

As a dark horse I like the idea of Everton. They often fall early but at the same time are capable of going all the way as they did in 1995, finalists also in 2010 and a good run in 2012 where they made the semi finals. Roberto Martinez won’t be taking this cup lightly given his history in it and with an exciting side including the best striker in the country right now for me, why would they be worth an each-way flutter.

Back to today and the 3rd round and the potential upset hunt.
Bolton and Villa losing games wouldn’t constitute an upset right now, but looking at the opposition surely they’ll be getting through the ties away at Eastleigh and Wycombe respectively. I’ll be expecting Villa to be playing full strength to try and kick start something in their awful season. Of the two I think Bolton have the most to worry about, Eastleighs 5000 capacity stadium won’t be the most welcoming place to play football.

Manchester United will have to be weary of Sheffield United who have had great joy in both cup competitions over the last 3 seasons and a weakened team by Van Gaal would mean big trouble for the beleaguered Dutchman. Surely he won’t take no chances.

So my punt for the for upset is going to Birmimgham City beating Bournemouth. I’m not sure the cherries will be going full strength especially given their chances of avoiding relegation have taken a boost in the last month and their focus may be elsewhere. Birmingham can take advantage and knock out the Premiership side.

So there we go, my Fa Cup 3rd round preview.

Winners: Arsenal
Each Way: Everton
3rd Round Upset candidates: Eastleigh, Birmingham City.

Whatever happens there will no doubt be some of the old cup magic.

Who do you think will win the FA cup?

Sheffield Weds 3-0 Arsenal – One word to sum it up… Sh*t!

Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal – Capital One Cup – 27/10/2015

One word to describe the Arsenal performance… SH*T! Possibly one of the worst performances I’ve seen in recent times from an Arsenal side – maybe not the worst but it was up there! An all round crap night topped off by two injuries to two very important players in our squad. Firstly the injury to the Ox – the old ‘precautionary’ substitution (which normally leads to 3 weeks out with our players). Followed by the bigger blow – the injury to Theo Walcott, the man who’s been bang in form lately.

I think for me the most disappointing thing is the way the Walcott injury happened… Watching it I was fuming because I genuinely believe he sustained that injury because he didn’t warm up properly. I know he didn’t have long but you know what, play with ten for 5 mins until the guys warmed up. The only person to blame here is Theo himself because as a professional you should be warmed up and I’m sure if he had said ‘boss I need a few mins to warm up’ Wenger wouldn’t have gambled with his fitness. Especially having just lost the Ox & Ramsey already on the treatment table.

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(The view from the away end – thanks to Kyri Christodoulou for the photo)

Wenger kind of said after the game that he felt they were not experienced enough and with that I agree 100%. Some of the youngsters in last nights team were well out of their depth and will only learn from this experience. Honestly I wouldn’t have played the first team last night, we have some huge games coming up and I probably would have done the same as Mr Wenger last night. Truth be told I believe that some of his senior ‘squad players’ let him down more than the kids, that ultimately cost us the game.

Gibbs, Debuchy, Chambers, Flamini, Campbell and even Per Mertesacker & Olivier Giroud didn’t perform. Granted the majority of these players are not in the current starting 11, but they’re all members of the first team squad & should have done better. Flamini was hopeless in the middle of the park & having the young Kamara next to him didn’t do him any favours. Calum Chambers is forever showing us that he’s not quite the centre halve we all hoped he would be & in my opinion is not good enough yet to play for the Arsenal.

Gibbs, Mertesacker & Giroud don’t usually perform at that level so I’m putting that down to an off night and in Giroud’s case a lack of service but Debuchy has been poor every time he’s appeared this season & last night was no different. Is he up to the standard of Bellerin? No way! Is he anywhere near the standard required at AFC? On current form no way!

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I suppose for me the most disappointing one was Joel Campbell. After successful loan spells around Europe in recent seasons & a really impressive World Cup with Costa Rica many of us have been waiting to see him get a chance. I thought he was poor, granted he didn’t have the likes of Ozil and Cazorla to supply him but he just seems so wasteful and raw still. I’d imagine his days at Arsenal are numbered.

It will be interesting to see if he gets the opportunity in the league now with Theo, The Ox and Ramsey all out or if Wenger will reshuffle something else. That’s one to keep your eye on, I certainly will be. The selection on Saturday will give us a good indication as to whether Wenger see’s him as having a future at this club.

Huge credit goes to the championship club though, Sheffield Wednesday are something of a sleeping giant. Huge fan base, big old fashioned ground and a club with tradition. It’s refreshing to see these bigger lower division clubs heading in the right direction. They’ve been very difficult to beat this season and have had an encouraging start and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the play off mix come May!

Ultimately, last nights result wasn’t the end of the world and I know people have said it before but the capital one cup is definitely not our priority. Do I think that it will effect us going forward this season? Overall probably not but it’s a shame to halt the momentum that we’ve built recently. A good result this weekend and it will all be forgotten, just a distant memory!

Let’s see what happens at Swansea this Saturday – COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

Harry Symeou