1. It is almost time to kick back and get a drink down your neck in celebration of the weekend.
2. It’s a massive FA Cup weekend.
3. Who does Betto suggest you make your money on?
There are far too many ties in the fourth round so here are the previews for the most mouth watering ties.
Everton v Chelsea
12.30pm Kick Off
Watch live on ESPN from 11.30am
Holders Chelsea travel to Goodison to face Everton on Saturday for the first of the FA Cup matches this weekend. Chelsea have been enjoying a resurgence in form of late, but Everton have been picking up their performances as well. But we all know form can go out of the window in the cup. Everton hit 5 goals in the last round, but Chelsea hit 7, then 4 in their last league game against Bolton. So this could be a good one.
Chelsea Team News: Injured – Alex, Yuri Zhirkov (calf) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles), Lampard faces a late check. Youngsters Daniel Sturridge and and Josh McEachran could feature if Chelsea shuffle the pack.
Everton Team News: No injury worries, but Cahill is still away on international duty. Moyes has hinted he could make changes.
Betto’s advice: Tough one to call punters…if you want to play safe go Chelsea, but consider this; Everton have already drawn away at the bridge, and last season Chelsea did not beat Everton in the league…but this is the cup!
Betto’s Bottom Line: Chelsea Win
Aston Villa v Blackburn
1.00pm Kick Off
Clash of the revivals
These two have met in the League Cup already this year, and Villa were the victors. A lot has changed since then and this time it is a little harder to call with both teams enjoying good results of late. There are a lot of similarities between the two clubs, both under new management and both have a sense of rejuvenation, with new talent coming in. Blackburn have had a positive week following Jones signing and also new contracts for current players. A quieter week at Villa following the Bent transfer.
Villa Team News: Record signing Bent is cup-tied, so Heskey or Delfouneso should deputise. Villa are still without midfield duo Delph and Ireland, who are still recovering from knee injuries
Blackburn Team News: Blackburn welcome new loan signing Jermaine Jones to the set up, but he may have to settle for a place on the bench. Roque Santa Cruz may deliver the goods. He is not cup-tied as he was an unused sub in the last round. Could this be the difference?
Betto talk: Blackburn have already beaten Villa earlier in the season, but don’t be too influenced by this. This is probably one of the hardest to call, but there is a feel good factor at Blackburn this week. Will it continue? With Villa having to change to a less potent attack, will they have the firepower to win this one?
Betto’s Bottom Line: Draw
Watford v Brighton
3.00pm Kick Off
Worship a football feast at the Vic
I think this is one of the ties of the round and this is what The FA Cup is about. Two high flying teams, who will be eager to progress to the next round. This could be a feisty encounter at Vicarage Road. Both teams only have one loss in the last 6 games, Watford currently sit just outside the play-off places in the Championship and Brighton are still riding high at the top of League One. This is not just a meeting of two form sides, it is the meeting of two young managers, Malky and Gus have done great jobs at their respective clubs this year.
Watford Team News: The Hornets have new signing Townsend cup-tied following his dazzling display in the last round for Spurs, and also midfielder Josh Walker is ineligible. Key players Eustace and Cowie look likely to miss out, but on loan Villa striker Weimann can play.
Brighton Team News: Kishishev, Alan Navarro, Jim McNulty and Jamie Smith are all injured. Craig Noone is cup-tied.
Betto’s banter: Tough call. Historically, Brighton have the upper hand in the head to heads & they did beat Portsmouth in as south coast derby in the last round. Watford are coming off a 4-2 defeat to Cardiff, can they bounce back?
Betto’s Bottom Line: Watford too strong for Gus’ boys
Southampton v Manchester United
5.15pm Kick Off
Live for everyone to see on ITV
There has been a bit of buzz around the Southampton players this week, with another one of their highly rated youngsters being linked with Premier League sides, and Manchester United are reported to be one of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suitors. Saints are currently 4th in League One and having a good season under the Nigel Adkins, but Manchester United are still unbeaten this season. But, we all love a sprinkle of cup magic and with Saints at home, could this be the tie? Let’s check the teams.
Saints Team News: Influential Adam Lallana is out of this one, but bullish striker Ricky Lambert should start.
Man United Team News: Danish International Anders Lindegaard could make his first start in goal as Van der Sar did not travel to the south coast. United are depleted in defence with Ferdinand, Evra, and Rafael all out.
Betto’s breakdown: The obvious money would go on United, but this is The FA Cup and we know what can happen. A replay wouldn’t be a bad result for the Saints and with United struggling in defence this could be a real possibility.
Betto’s Bottom Line: It is worth a little bit of money on a draw, but United are in great form and should be too strong.
Torquay United v Crawley Town
3.00pm Kick Off
Who has the minerals?
I have mixed emotions about these kind of ties. Both teams were hoping for a big draw in this round for the fans and also the money. They didn’t get it, but both sides will know they are odds on for a big draw in the next round. Crawley are having a great season in the Blue Square Premier and are currently on a great run, unbeaten in January – can they finish a perfect month? Torquay, on the other hand, have had an up and down month. They have no real form and if Crawley ever wanted a chance to progress in this competition, this could be it. No doubt both sets of players, mangers, and fans will be more than up for this and a strong Crawley contingent should add to the spice at Plainmoor. No doubt Helen Chamberlain will be looking forward to this one.
Team News Torquay: Big boost with striker Elliot Benyon declaring himself fit, with 13 goals already, this is great news for the Torquay fans. Joe Oastler has had his loan from QPR extended and should play. Manager Paul Buckle will be in the dugout after an FA rap earlier in the week.
Crawley Team News: Good news for the Crawley boys, full bill of health, other than Simon Rusk is not match fit yet.
Betto’s word: Tough one to call. The reward is high, the pressure is mounting, but who will be more focused on the game rather than the next round. Both teams are full strength, so who will play their normal game? Crawley’s squad is probably on a par with Torquay and they have the form, but the long trip down and home advantage could mean the tie goes with the home side.
Betto’s Bottom Line: I like the Crawley story, some stories have a happy ending. But some don’t – a replay could be on the cards.