The FA Cup third round starts in earnest today, and there are a number of games we could concentrate on. But it’s always difficult to predict teams when a Premier League outfit takes on a team from a lesser division at this stage of the competition.
As a result, the first game we’re going to concentrate on is an all-Premiership tie between Arsenal and Newcastle. The Gunners have had a volatile season so far, but have taken the cup competitions very seriously. They have now won three in a row and confidence is must be growing again at the Emirates, particularly as they now take on a team which they have a very good record against.
Arsenal have won 14 out of their last 15 games against Newcastle, while the Geordies have a very poor record in this tournament, making it past the fourth round only once in the past 14 years. This all points towards a home win, and we agree.
Bukayo Saka has been one of Arsenal’s more impressive players this season, blossoming after being given more attacking licence by manager Mikel Arteta. He has scored twice in Arsenal’s last three games, all wins, and the 100/30 on offer than he scores anytime today seems a very good price.
The second game sees Manchester United take on Watford at Old Trafford. Although Watford are currently in the Championship, they were a Premier League team last season and the hosts will have to put out a strong team to take them on.
That said, after the difficult match against their cross-city midweek and looking ahead to taking on Liverpool next week, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to give players on the fringe of the first team some playing time.
Marcus Rashford has been carrying a shoulder injury for much of the season and is likely to be rested, as is Bruno Fernandes, who has played most games so far. This means that the duty to take free kicks and penalties will move to another player, and we think this is likely to be Juan Mata. With this in mind, we think the 11/4 on offer for him to score anytime is a good price.
Saka (Arsenal) to score anytime, 1 pt, at 100/30, Paddy Power
Mata (Man Utd) to score anytime, 1 pt, at 11/4, Paddy Power
The double, 1 pt, at approximately 15/1