It’s FA Cup 4th Round weekend, and once again I will be giving my opinions on the potential outcome of the selected ties that take place this weekend. The 1X2 Pick 8 starts with what is arguably the tie of the round at the Emirates, and includes potential cup shocks at Accrington, Shrewsbury and Millwall. As usual you can follow my picks and then join my Syndicate via the Colossus platform and hopefully we can win together by getting all 8 results correct.
The game of the round at the Emirates kicks-off the 4th round ties, and with both teams showing decent form, it has the potential to be a cracker. Visitors United will be strong favourites to extend their remarkable recent run to 8 successive wins, but they will face a tough task against an Arsenal side who have only lost twice at home all season. Much will depend on the team selections, and this is a game that is really hard to predict. The most recent meeting of the teams in the FA Cup came back in March 2015 when Arsenal won 2-1 at Old Trafford, and Arsenal have won the trophy more than any other team – 13 times, once more than Man United. If I could only make one selection, I would go for a draw, but for the purposes of still being in the game for Saturday, I will have to cover all outcomes.
Selection: Home / Draw / Away
The early kick-off puts League One Accrington up against Derby at the Wham Stadium where the hosts will be playing their 4th home tie in this seasons competition. Earlier victories against Colchester, Cheltenham, and Ipswich have put Stanley in the 4th round for the second time in three years, but the club have never progressed beyond this round in their history, and I think this is a statistic that will continue this weekend. Although their home form is pretty decent, having won 4 and drawn 5, the visit of Frank Lampard and his Derby side represent a big challenge. Once again team selections will have a big influence on the outcome, but in the previous 2 games against Southampton, Derby fielded almost full strength line-ups, and I expect them to be too strong for Stanley on the day.
Shrewsbury boss Sam Ricketts will be plotting the downfall of one of his former clubs when Wolves make the trip to what will be a sold out New Meadow for this 4th round tie. The gulf between the teams is huge with the home side currently occupying 18th spot in league one, and Wolves on the fringes of possibly grabbing a Europa League spot, but these types of games are what the FA Cup is all about, and there are many predicting a potential cup upset. For me though, I can’t see anything other than a Wolves win, possibly by 2 or 3 goals. The home side did remarkably well to come through the last round with an extra-time win at Stoke, but I think that Wolves possess enough quality in their squad to progress to the next round.
League One leaders Pompey will be fancied to cause a surprise against Championship side QPR in this meeting, but for me I think this game could well be forced to go to a replay. 4 out of the last 6 meetings between the teams have ended in draws with QPR being successful in the other 2 games. Portsmouth’s recent run of 5 wins from 7 games across all competitions which includes a cup win at Norwich – albeit a very much changed Norwich team – to set up this tie with Rangers, is impressive and they are going along very well at the moment. QPR on the other hand are struggling a bit with just one win from 5 games, that win did come against Leeds in this competition, but they were heavily beaten at home by Preston last weekend. Pompey may well start as slight favourites, but I think that QPR will at least be able to force a replay.
The second all-Premier League tie in this list takes place at St. James’ Park where the home side will be hoping to build on their recent mini revival that has seen them lose just twice during their last 6 games. The teams met at Vicarage Road as recently as December when the points and goals were shared, and they clashed at St. James’ just a month before when a 65th minute goal from Ayoze Perez proved to be decisive. The head to head in the FA Cup is level, with 2 wins each, and 3 draws, and a draw here is also very likely. After the morale boosting 3-0 win at home to Cardiff last time out, Newcastle will possibly be slight favourites to progress, although again I expect a close game that the home side might just edge, but I will cover the draw as well.
Selection: Home / Draw
Another particularly hard tie to call. With free scoring West Brom having already found the net 57 times across all competitions this season, it is very likely that they will at least score in this game as the Baggies have only failed to score once in their last 13 games. Current form sees them on a run of just one defeat from 6 games, and in striker Jay Rodriguez, they have a player in fine form scoring 4 goals in his last 5 and they will pose a severe test to the Premier League team. Brighton’s only calendar win this year has come in the Cup when they were successful at Bournemouth, but back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Man United will give visitors West Brom a belief that they can take something from the game. My selection will be West Brom not to lose.
Selection: Draw / Away
The penultimate game of the Pick 8 brings up another tricky tie for a Premier League team as Everton head into the Lions Den to take on Millwall. A difficult afternoon lies ahead for Marco Silva’s side, and they will have to match the home sides spirit and tenacity if they are to progress. Everton only just managed to get through a tricky tie at home against Lincoln in the last round, and recent performances have been disappointing with a defeat against Bournemouth following a less than impressive win over Bournemouth, and all of this could point to a potential cup upset. The home side have had a disappointing season and are currently only 6 points above the relegation places in the Championship however, December and January have been fairly decent months for the Londoners, and they have lost just 3 times during their last 10 games. The Premier League team will be strong favourites to progress, and if they apply the quality that they have correctly, they should win, but any failure to match their opponents endeavours may see them struggle.
Two former winners of the trophy go head-to-head in the final game of the Pick 8 and it’s yet another away trip for a Premier League team, although this time it is hard to see any outcome other than an away win. The home side have been heavily beaten in their last 2 home games, losing to Barnsley and Fleetwood, and conceding 7 goals in the process, and it is now just one clean sheet in their last 22 matches which is a major reason why they are currently propping up the League One table and looking very likely to return to the bottom tier next term. West Ham scored in the opening, and closing minutes of the game in their 3rd round win over Birmingham, and although the Hammers included a mix of regular, and fringe players in that game, they were clearly the better team and they should be – will be – too good for a struggling AFC side. Prediction West Ham by 3 or more goals.