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Midweek Football Preview As FA Cup Takes Centre Stage

Midweek Football Preview as FA Cup Takes Centre Stage


As the FA Cup experiments by having all fifth-round ties played during the week rather than at the weekend, Wayne Rooney comes up against Manchester United, the club where he is the all-time leading scorer. Rooney, who is also England’s all-time leading goal scorer, would love to get on the scoresheet against his former club, but he would happily not score and take a win for the Rams to progress to the quarterfinals. Elsewhere this week, the EFL continues to play catch up with more re-arranged fixtures. Charlie Mullan has analysed all the fixtures.

BTTS: Derby v Man Utd, Ipswich v Fleetwood, Exeter v Crewe

All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney as he lines up against the club he scored a record 253 goals for in all competitions. Since joining Derby in January, it took Rooney six games to open his account for County and since hitting his first goal against Luton, Rooney has scored a total of four goals in his last nine games. Playing in a much deeper role, Rooney is more of a playmaker than goalscorer for Philip Cocu’s side and his experience will be crucial if Derby are to advance to the next round. As for United, they are still alive in the Europa League with a Last 16 tie with Austrian side LASK to look forward to. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could do with a trophy to take some of the pressure off him and success in the FA Cup would certainly silence some of his critics.

United’s last two away games – to Club Bruges and Everton have seen goals for both them and their opponents with both games ending 1-1. A third successive 1-1 draw on the road is trading at 23/4 with SportPesa who are also offering odds of 10/13 for BTTS to land in this tie. If it does happen, it will be the eighth successive league and cup game involving Derby in which BTTS will have paid out. Derby (5/1) have got to this stage of the FA Cup by beating Crystal Palace and Northampton when they needed a replay to secure victory. United (10/19) have beaten Wolves after a replay and put six past Tranmere in the previous round. United are 7/4 to win this tie within 90 minutes with at least one goal for Derby who are 35/4 to win with BTTS occurring.

In League One, Ipswich (27/20) host Fleetwood (2/1) with the Tractor Boys needing a win to keep their slim play-off hopes alive. Five defeats in their last seven games highlights how poor Ipswich’s form has been in recent weeks. Their only win since January 25 came at home to Burton when Paul Lambert’s side won 4-1. Two of Ipswich’s last three home games have seen goals for both them and their opponents. On Saturday, Ipswich went to Blackpool and lost 2-1. Fleetwood’s last league game was last Tuesday night when they drew 1-1 at Sunderland when a fifth minute goal from Barrie McKay looked like being the only goal of the game, but an injury time equaliser by Max Power secured a point for Sunderland.

Two of Fleetwood’s last three games have seen BTTS pay out like it did when the two sides met on New Year’s Day. Both sides took a point from that game which finished 1-1 with both goals coming from penalties. Ched Evans opened the scoring for Fleetwood only for Chris Maguire to cancel that out with his own spot kick. SportPesa are offering odds of 20/23 for BTTS to happen at Portman Road. Another score draw is available at 3/1 while Ipswich are 33/10 to win with at least one goal for the visitors who are 9/2 to win with BTTS landing.  

Exeter (5/4) take on Crewe (43/20) at St James’ Park with both sides hoping for a win that will keep them in the mix for automatic promotion from League Two. The Grecians are currently third one point and one place behind their visitors. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for either side as a win will see the victors go top of the League Two table if leaders Swindon lose at home to struggling Scunthorpe. Seven of Exeter’s last eight games have seen them score at one end and concede at the other including their last three at home.

On Saturday, Exeter were held to a 1-1 draw by Crawley, coming from a goal down to do so. Crewe were also held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday when they were pegged back after opening the scoring two minutes into the second half. Five of Crewe’s last six matches have seen BTTS pay out and when the two sides met at Alexandra Stadium, the score was also 1-1. SportPesa are offering odds of 19/4 for this fixture to end in another 1-1 draw while BTTS is on the market at 5/7. A score draw is trading at 53/20 while the home side are 57/20 to win with at least one goal for Crewe who are 17/4 to win with goals at both ends.  

Over 2.5 goals: Chelsea v Liverpool, Swindon v Scunthorpe,  Plymouth v Grimsby

So much for Liverpool emulating Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ when their hopes of going through the entire Premier League season unbeaten fell at the 28th hurdle when they were beaten 3-0 at Watford. No doubt the Arsenal players from their 2003/04 history-making team were popping champagne bottles to mark the occasion. All eyes will be on Liverpool and how they respond to that loss at Vicarage Road. The result shocked the football world but there were signs in Liverpool’s previous league game – a 3-2 win at West Ham – that they were not as formidable as they were earlier in the season.

Against West Ham and Watford, two sides in the middle of relegation battles, Liverpool conceded five times. To put that into context, in the 14 Premier League games prior to their trip to the Hammers, Liverpool (8/5) had conceded a total of five goals.The Reds have only conceded 20 league goals all season but with a 22-point lead, the loss shouldn’t stop Jurgen Klopp’s men from claiming their first ever Premier League title. Chelsea, who drew 2-2 at Bournemouth on Saturday, will be keen to pile on more misery for the Merseysiders. That was Chelsea’s third successive match in all competitions and sixth in their last seven in which three or more goals were scored. Chelsea (6/4) are 53/20 to win this tie with three or more match goals scored while Liverpool are 57/20 to win with over 2.5 goals paying out. A minimum of three goals to be scored is available at 10/13. 

League Two leaders Swindon (10/19) will look to cement their place at the top of the table when they host struggling Scunthorpe (19/4) at the County Ground. Swindon are unbeaten in their last four league games and they recorded back-to-back wins on Saturday when they beat Grimsby 3-1 at home. It was the Robins’ fourth successive home game in which over 2.5 goals has paid out and they are 13/10 to win this game with at least three total goals scored. Scunthorpe’s last five away games in league and cup competitions have seen three or more goals scored.

On Saturday, the Iron travelled to Port Vale and showed great character to salvage a point in a 2-2 draw. Twice they came from a goal down to equalise and rescued a point in injury time thanks to a George Miller goal. SportPesa are offering odds of 37/4 for Grimsby to beat the leaders with three or more goals scored. Over 2.5 goals in the match is available at 5/6 while both teams to score and over 2.5 goals to be scored is available at 27/20. 

Plymouth can boost their play-off hopes with a win over Grimsby at Home Park and Argyle will be hoping to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at Bradford on Saturday. Their hopes weren’t helped at the Northern Commercials Stadium when they had Gary Sawyer sent off five minutes before half-time when the score was 1-0 to the home side. The Pilgrims found themselves 2-0 down at the interval and managed to pull a consolation goal back three minutes from time. Goals have been a regular feature in recent games involving Grimsby.

Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at home to Northampton was the fifth successive match in which three or more goals were scored. In fact, a total of 21 goals have been netted in those five goals. In each of the last five league meetings at Home Park, these two sides have produced three or more goals. SportPesa are offering odds of 20/23 for this fixture to produce three or more goals while both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is trading at 5/4. The Pilgrims are 8/5 to win with three or more total goals scored while Grimsby are 13/2 to claim victory with a minimum of three goals scored. 

A £10 bet on the BTTS accumulator has potential returns of £56.60

A £10 bet on the over 2.5 goals accumulator has potential returns of £60.60

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