Normally on international week, the clubs tend to take a back seat. Someone should have told Chelsea with Luiz Felipe Scolari getting the boot and Guus Hiddink coming in.
With all that going on at Stamford Bridge, it’s easy to forget that Tony Adams also left Portsmouth. They play Manchester City in the league tomorrow though the focus will be on the FA Cup.
Steven Beacom gives his verdict on the fourth and fifth round ties with Paddy Power supplying the odds for each game.
All matches kick-off on Saturday at 3pm unless stated.
BLACKBURN v COVENTRY
When I think of Coventry in the FA Cup, I remember two games. The epic final victory for the Sky Blues over Spurs in 1987 when Keith Houchen scored a classic diving header and that stunning defeat when they lost to non-league Sutton. Both matches are part of this competition’s rich history. I can’t see their trip to Ewood Park, however, coming into that category. Coventry’s hopes will depend on how serious Sam Allardyce chooses to be about the Cup this year. I reckon he’ll pick a decent team, likely to be too strong for Chris Coleman’s men in a tight encounter.
Beacom Prediction: 2-1
PADDY POWER ODDS: Blackburn to win 4/7 Coventry to win 5/1 Draw 11/4
SHEFFIELD UNITED v HULL
I always go on the theory that there will be at least one shock in every round of the Cup until the quarter-finals, and this is my tip for round five. Hull were a little unlucky not to win at Chelsea last weekend, but they have been on a slippery slope lately. I’d love to see them at Wembley as their enterprising football before Christmas was a joy to watch, but I fancy Kevin Blackwell’s boys will nick it.
Beacom Prediction: 3-2
PADDY POWER ODDS: Sheffield United 6/4 Hull 9/5 Draw 9/4
SWANSEA v FULHAM (Saturday 12.45pm)
In the last round I predicted than Swansea would beat Portsmouth. See what I mean about there always being a shock. Mind you, the way Pompey have defended recently, maybe it wasn’t that big a surprise. The Swans will be confident of defeating Fulham, but I’m not so sure. The Craven Cottage men are a lot more solid that they were last season. A lot of that is down to unsung hero Aaron Hughes (pictured right) at the back. Fulham to go through, after a replay.
Beacom Prediction: 1-1
PADDY POWER ODDS: Swansea 6/4 Fulham 9/5 Draw 9/4
WATFORD v CHELSEA (Saturday 5.30pm)
Before all hell broke loose at Chelsea the central figure in this fixture was going to be a man from Carnlough. Good old Brendan Rodgers (pictured left) who was loved by Jose Mourinho and the players during his time coaching at Stamford Bridge. Brendan will still have his day in the sun on Saturday, though that magical manager Guus Hiddink, who will take over until the end of the season at least following Luiz Felipe Scolari’s departure, is going to be the main man tomorrow.
Chelsea are going through a rough patch but they’ll come through this okay and go from strength to strength under the Dutchman. Let’s just hope ITV manage to show us any goals that go in at Vicarage Road.
Beacom Prediction: 1-3
PADDY POWER ODDS: Watford 8/1 Chelsea 4/11 Draw 7/2
WEST HAM v MIDDLESBROUGH
On paper West Ham should win, but on the lush grass of Upton Park my feeling is that this is going to a replay.
Beacom Prediction: 1-1
PADDY POWER ODDS: West Ham 8/11 Boro 4/1 Draw 5/2
EVERTON v ASTON VILLA (Sunday 2.30pm)
The last time these two met at Goodison Park, Ashley Young smashed home a brilliant winner in injury time to give Villa a 3-2 league victory. It was that result that gave them the confidence to go on their hugely impressive run of form. Martin O’Neill would love a Cup final appearance but Everton, after beating Liverpool, will feel this could be their year. This one will end up with a replay at Villa Park and if you are looking for an outside bet, it could be decided by penalties.
Beacom Prediction: 1-1
PADDY POWER ODDS: Everton 7/5 Villa 2/1 Draw 9/4
DERBY v MAN UNITED (Sunday 4.30pm)
Robbie Savage is suddenly back in vogue. I’ve seen him on a few footy TV shows in the past week. And obviously he’ll play a part in this fixture, though it’s likely to be chasing shadows. Yes, I’m well aware that Derby beat United in the Carling Cup semi-final at Pride Park, but that was over two legs and the Red Devils still won the tie, and really can you see lightning striking twice? No? I’m with you.
Beacom Prediction: 1-4
PADDY POWER ODDS: Derby 8/1 United 4/11 Draw 7/2
ARSENAL v CARDIFF (Monday 7.45pm - Round Four)
Arsenal should come through, though the Welsh outfit will make it difficult for the Gunners, who could do with a morale boosting win.
Beacom Prediction: 3-1