I've been very nice about David Moyes on this site in the last few weeks, but he's in my bad books after his West Ham team selection last night did us few favours. The promotion of a clutch of youngsters and fringe players led to a rather disjointed display, and as such the Hammers didn't dispose of Shrewsbury until the extra time period, which was too late for us.
We're sticking with the FA Cup, and taking in another clash between League One and Premier League. This time, it's the top-flight side who are the visitors, as Bournemouth go to Wigan.
As someone who once lived in Wigan many moons ago, I always have a bit of a soft spot for the Latics, so it's nice to see them topping the League One table. Paul Cook's team have racked up 50 goals and leaked just 12, and they have won 17 of their 26 league games so far. Wigan were mighty close to knocking Bournemouth out on the south coast. They built a 2-0 lead inside half-an-hour, but a last-gasp Steve Cook header secured a 2-2 draw and necessitated a replay.
It says a lot for Wigan's performance in Bournemouth and the Cherries' perceived lack of interest in the tournament that the hosts are 2.48 favourites here, but it's the goals markets that have caught my eye.
Wigan have had three consecutive goalless draws at home in League One, which is extraordinary when you consider they won 7-0 at Oxford United and 4-0 at AFC Wimbledon just before Christmas. That run of blanks has contributed to the price for Over 2.5 Goalsbeing an acceptable 1.85, and that's the way I'm heading.
Wigan know they can score goals against this Bournemouth defence, and I can't imagine they'll be too reticent to attack. As for the Cherries, their open style lends itself to goalmouth action, and each of their last eight games in all competitions has featured at least three goals.
Fatigue was cited as one of the main reasons for Chelsea's lacklustre performance against Leicester on Saturday, which ended with the Blues recording three consecutive goalless draws for the first time in their history.
It's undoubtedly a busy time of the season but it's hard to see why Chelsea's players should be any more tired than any of their recent opponents. Norwich had played the same amount of games in the same space of time as Antonio Conte's men when they held the Blues to a 0-0 draw 10 days ago, and so too had Arsenal when they met in the EFL Cup last week.
A bigger factor as to Chelsea's disappointing recent results is surely the lack of form shown by some of their star players, notably Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata. Conte's men registered no fewer than 54 shots at goal in their three recent draws with a very impressive 20 of them being on target. They did enough to win all three games but simply couldn't put the ball in the net.
It suggests to me that Chelsea aren't too overly tired, and that a peak form Morata (no goals in his last five games) and/or Hazard (just one goal in 10 outings) would be all that is needed to see the Blues return to winning ways.
Canaries in good form but hit by big-name departures
Norwich will arrive at Stamford Bridge in decent shape having won three and drawn one of their last four Championship games, including Saturday's excellent 1-0 win at promotion-chasing Bristol City.
Daniel Farke's men have in fact conceded just one goal in their last five outings and have kept three consecutive clean sheets away from home, so they shouldn't lack for confidence when travelling to the capital on Wednesday night.
But departures and injuries mean the Canaries squad is pretty thin on the ground currently; star man Alex Pritchard has joined Premier League outfit Huddersfield, while experienced defender and captain Russell Martin is on the verge of joining Glasgow Rangers.
And it's perhaps worth pointing out that prior to their recent mini revival Farke's men were in dire form, picking up just five points from a possible 30 in the Championship thanks to losing seven out of 10 games including four consecutive defeats on the road.
Safe passage to round four awaits hosts
If tiredness is genuinely the reason behind Chelsea's recent winless run then surely Conte will make wholesale changes for the visit of Norwich in this FA Cup third round replay.
But making changes probably means that the likes of Andrea Christensen, David Luiz, Danny Drinkwater, Davide Zappacosta, Willian, and Pedro all come into the starting XI, while Cesc Fabregas and Hazard - who were withdrawn with over 30 minutes remaining on Saturday - are likely to play some part if needed.
In other words, this isn't going to be a weak Chelsea starting line-up, and odds of around 1.29 for them to win the game are fully justified, and more importantly, should easily be landed.
Norwich can be backed at 13.00 to produce a shock, with the Draw currently trading at 6.60, but I'm far more interested in backing the hosts to win with ease than anything else; they should be far too strong for their lower league opponents.
Despite failing to convert one of their many chances you never felt for one moment that Chelsea were in any danger at Carrow Road in the original tie, and now with home advantage I can see Conte's men running out comfortable winners as they try to book a fourth round tie at home to Newcastle as quickly as possible.
On the Betfair Sportsbook we can back Chelsea -1 at 4/5 and that looks like a bet well worth having.
Willian to have a good night
Assuming he starts then Willian looks a great price to get on the scoresheet at 2/1 on the Sportsbook. The 29-year-old is enjoying a fine season and has scored five goals in his last eight appearances when starting the game from the outset.
In addition to his fine goalscoring record when starting Willian is a fantastic free-kick taker so he should have at least a few chances from dead-ball situations with the belief that Chelsea will be very much on the front foot and the game will be played in and around Norwich's box.
Take a chance on a big home win
Chelsea's lack of recent goals will hopefully push the price out on a big home win, so keep an eye out on the Correct Score market where I'm hoping to get matched at around the 4.80mark about the Any Other Home Win option.
For the bet to land we require Chelsea to win the game by scoring at least four goals in the process, which is a distinct possibility if they start well.
The Canaries' away form in general isn't great; Farke's men have conceded four at Villa, four at Millwall, and three at Cardiff in the Championship this term, and you sense that Chelsea, who'll want to put this game to bed as early as possible, could score a similar amount if able to convert some of the many chances they'll surely create.
Leicester City v Fleetwood Town Tuesday, 19:45 GMT Live on BT Sport 2/BT Sport 4K
Puel impact starting to show
The Foxes were booed by their own fans in the first game between these two at Fleetwood. In the drab 0-0 in Lancashire, Leicester failed to muster a single shot on target despite having 59% of the ball. Manager Claude Puel made eight changes for that, and the much weaker team looked just that - weak and very ineffective. Perhaps a cup run isn't high on the agenda?
However, Saturday's 0-0 at Stamford Bridge against the Premier League Champions Chelsea was an outstanding display. Yes, Leicester took advantage of a tired-looking Antonio Conte side, but they mustered 12 shots in the first-half against the Londoners and Puel felt his team should have won. The French tactician needed to address the clean sheet problem when he took over (or lack of them), and the recent shutouts against Chelsea and Huddersfield meant that consecutive clean sheets were recorded in the Premier League for the first time since May 2017.
Puel has also created (from the outside anyway) a hungrier team and excellent spirit. City sit in eighth position in the top flight, and he's getting a tune out of Riyad Mahrez again.
Indeed, Betfair Ambassador Graeme Le Sauxdescribed the appointment as a masterstroke.
Back to the Fleetwood of old?
The Cod Army have never progressed beyond the third round of the FA Cup, and you get the feeling they blew their chance after the 0-0 at Highbury a fortnight ago. Fleetwood manager Uwe Rosler felt his team should have won the game, and he was right. Ashley Huntercaused Leicester all sorts of problems down the left-hand side, and almost fired Town in front with an effort that hit the woodwork.
However, the smaller pitch at Fleetwood very much played to the strengths of Rosler's men, as they looked organised and well-drilled. Leicester couldn't string two passes together in the game - but credit to their opponents - as they didn't let them.
Town are looking stronger these days in League One, and Rosler has stated that they are starting to resemble the club that finished in the top four last term. High praise indeed, as they made the playoffs and were an excellent counter-attacking team back then. Recent form in the third tier reads WLWW.
Tempted by the massive price on Fleetwood?
I've dealt with a few FA Cup previews this term - mostly League One teams against non-league opposition, but I haven't seen a price of 16.00 for any of the outsiders thus far in a match. At those odds, Fleetwood definitely missed their chance in the first fixture - and they were chalked-up for that at 6.80.
Town were 2-1 winners at the weekend at Southend, on a pitch in Essex that resembles a cabbage patch these days. Fleetwood's goalscorers on Saturday were Toumani Diagouraga and Paddy Madden - who both featured in earlier rounds of the Cup for Plymouth and Scunthorpe unfortunately.
Rosler has a young team who usually play in a counter-attacking way, and they are in much better shape both in terms of results and players coming back to fitness.
The money-buyers of Leicester for the replay at 1.28 might get stuck in here, but there isn't a lot of mileage for me to go anywhere with that. And I certainly wouldn't dream of tipping up anything around 1/4.
On the flip side, layers will be thinking about the number of changes Puel made in the first game and how poor Leicester were in that. At 1.28 it is certainly a cheap lay, and they were priced-up around 1.75 for the recent Premier League game with Huddersfield. They were 1.46 for the match at Fleetwood too.
If you fancy a longer term project, Leicester are 24.00 in the FA Cup Winner market.
Take a punt on a pair of Correct Score predictions
I don't think anyone will be getting too carried away with Fleetwood's League One form in the context of this. I mentioned their recent three wins in the last four, which is a lot better than the previous run of five defeats in seven - but they are improving and I think with their organisation and how superbly Nathan Pond deputised for the injured Ash Eastham in the first match at Highbury - they can give a good account of themselves.
Rosler is a decent tactician - one of the best in the third tier. He'll be spot on for this.
Going with a decent defensive showing from the visitors and a likely weakened Leicester team, the hosts might just lack some fluency but have the class to come through. I would play two bets at Correct Scores2-0 at 6.00 and 3-0 at 8.00.
With that logic, the sensible bet is to back Leicester to win HT/FTat fair odds of 4/5on the Sportsbook.
Having a Vardy party?
The supposed "Jamie Vardy derby" at Fleetwood didn't quite happen due to a groin injury, and the 30-year-old was not risked in the first game a fortnight ago. The 30-year-old England striker played 82 minutes against Chelsea on Saturday, and will relish the chance to play against his former club. Whether he will start is anyone's guess. As First Goalscorer on the exchange, he is priced at around 3.50, although Islam Slimani got the nod against Fleetwood in the first game. A match where he saw hardly any of the ball with a measly number of touches.
Demarai Gray played in the first fixture and his pace and high position could trouble Fleetwood. He came off the bench at Stamford Bridge for eight minutes, so he might feature here. He could have a few fans in the To Score market at around 3.00.
Manchester United v Stoke Monday January 15 2018 Live on Sky Sports
Mourinho hogs headlines
Just another quiet week in the Jose Mourinho era at Old Trafford then. The Portuguese manager has spent much of it trading barbs with Chelsea's Antonio Conte while at the same time trying to hijack Manchester City's bid for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez.
It's what happens on the pitch that matters most of course, and in that respect things are looking quite bright. After a little stumble at the end of the year that saw United drawing three top-flight games on the trot, Mourinho's men have returned to winning ways with consecutive 2-0 wins in league and cup. That last win - against Derby - saw Jesse Lingardscore his 11th of the season. The England forward is turning into the brightest spark in United's season.
Mourinho is still without the suspended Ashley Young for this game, while Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain injured.
Hughes shown exit but no replacement yet
Stoke finally called time on the Mark Hughes era after suffering defeat at the hands of Coventry City in the cup last weekend. It was a surprise it took so long. The Potters' form had been a worry all season and they twice conceded five goals on the road in December, although trips to Spurs and Chelsea are among the toughest in the Premier League. But across all competitions this season Stoke have won just six games while tasting defeat 14 times and, for a team that once prided itself on rugged *competitiveness*, it's alarming that they have conceded 47 goals in the Premier League, comfortably the worst defence in the top-flight.
As it stands, the managerial role is yet to be filled but the Betfair market is pointing towards Martin O'Neill getting the role - the Republic of Ireland manager available to back at (2.08) ahead of the 5.30 Slaven Bilic.
Barring a very swift appointmentEddie Niedzwiecki will take charge of this one and he must deal with a few injuries in defence where Ryan Shawcross is likely to miss this match.
United heavy odds-on and rightly so
No Premier League team will go off at a shorter price than United in this gameweek, and in truth it's difficult to argue with the 1.23on offer on the Betfair Exchange. Stoke have been awful on their Premier League travels, winning just one match of 11 and beaten on seven occasions, and goal difference makes them the worst travellers in the top-flight behind West Brom. If Stoke - 17.00 to back - get anything from this game it would be an upset of momentous proportions. The draw is 7.60.
We can't tip at such short odds but there are other ways of backing a United win and turning a decent profit.
There will be goals
The goals markets are unequivocal - there will be plenty! Over 2.5 is just 1.56 to back. Given United's status as third highest scorers in the Premier League (24 of their 45 scored at home) and Stoke's terrible defending this season that all makes sense. Caretaker manager Niedzwiecki will surely adopt a safety first approach and that could mean goals come later than expected but I'm not sure I want to back Unders, even at 2.58
How to back a United win at bigger odds
No team has kept more Premier League clean sheets than United this season and I'd be surprised were Stoke's average attack to get one past David De Gea. The United win looks a near certainty so wrapping up the clean sheet with three points for Mourinho's men at even money looks a smart move to me.
Anthony Taylor takes charge of this one and no referee averages more yellows than the man in black from Manchester, although in 15 matches he is yet to show a red. These are two relatively well-behaved teams, however, with Stoke nearly the cleanest team in the top-flight.
Chelsea v Leicester – (Sun 2:00am)This shapes as a very tough encounter for Chelsea according to The Wolf. They have draw their last three across all competitions including back to back scoreless draws in FA Cup and League Cup fixtures against Norwich and Arsenal respectively. It hasn’t been rosy for Leicester either. They have won just 1 of their last 7 and it has come on the back of defensive problems. They have conceded multiple goals in 4 of their last 5 EPL fixtures with Over 2.5 goals saluting in 7 straight league games. That is the bet that The Wolf likes! Vardy and Mahrez were rested against Fleetwood and Conte will be pushing for all 3 points at home. He also says to back the Foxes to score multiple goals – somthing they have done in 4 of their last 7 away outings in the Premier League. Best: Over 2.5 goals ($1.53) Value: Leicester Over 1.5 goals ($5.50)
Tottenham v Everton – (Sun 4:30am)Spurs are undefeated in their last 10 against Everton including wins in each of the last two clashes. Kane managed to bag a brace in each of those encounters and the Toffees focus will primarily be to shut down the supply to the league’s leading scorer. Sam Allardyce had a great start to his tenure at Goodison Park but a tough run has yielded very little in terms of results. Two draws and three losses in their last 5 don’t make for good reading and they have been held scoreless in 3 of those matches. The Wolf doesn’t believe Spurs should be this short in the market but also doesn’t feel that Everton can take anything away with them back home. One thing is for certain – Everton will set up very defensively and it is only a matter of time before Spurs break through. The Toffees could frustrate them in the first half but the class of Eriksen, Alli and Kane will shine at some point. Best: Teams To Score – Tottenham Only ($1.83) Value: HT/FT – Draw/Tottenham ($4.20)
Bournemouth v Arsenal – (Mon 12:30am)The Gunners has lost touch with the top 4 over the last month dropping points in 6 of their last 8. As is generally the case over the busy Christmas schedule, a rotation of defensive players leads to most of the big sides conceding goals. Arsenal’s road record this season is well below what one would expect. A total of 13 points in 11 games scoring just 13 times and conceding 16. The Wolf cannot see them keeping the Cherries out. Bournemouth have found the back of the net in 5 of their last 6 EPL games at Vitality Stadium and led Arsenal 3-0 in their last meeting here before having a player sent and conceding 3 goals – all in the final 20 minutes. The Wolf likes the Cherries chances and says we are in for a thrilling high scoring draw. Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($1.50) Value: Over 3.5 goals ($2.25)
Liverpool v Man City – (Mon 3:00am)We head to Anfield for the match of the round and there is more on the line that catches the eye. Man City’s lead at the top may be an unassailable 15 points but don’t for a second think that they are not chasing the Gunners undefeated record. Then we have the fact that Liverpool are in a real dog fight for a top 4 spot and top it off with the result from their opening encounter this season… a 5-0 win for Man City in a much where Mane was sent off in the first half. It makes for fireworks! The Reds are undefeated in their last 17 across all competitions including wins in 4 of their last 5 league games. They have scored 36 goals in their last 13 EPL fixtures which, believe it or not, is 4 more goals than Man City in that stretch. They are the two highest scoring teams in the top flight with a combined 114 goals and it is no surprise that the Over is 10-3 in the last 13 between them. There will be goals and this could be one of the games of the season! Best: Over 2.5 goals ($1.44) Value: Over 4.5 goals ($3.75)
Man Utd v Stoke – (Tue 7:00am)United have dropped points in 3 of their last 4 league games and The Wolf says that we will see a repeat this week. They have been well below their best, highlighted by draws with Burnley and Southampton – both at Old Trafford. Stoke have found the back of the net in 8 of their last 10 away games in the Premier League and with United looking vulnerable they will look to pounce. They have a very sneaky record against the Red Devils with the two sides sharing the points in each of the last 3 meetings. In fact, Man Utd have won just 2 of their last 8 against The Potters and that has The Wolf leaning towards a potential upset. Stoke to score and the sides to share the points for the 4th consecutive clash. Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($2.20) Value: Correct Score 1-1 ($12.00)
Gameweek 23 Best Bets
Best: Chelsea v Leicester – Over 2.5 goals ($1.53) Best Value: Liverpool v Man City – Over 4.5 goals ($3.75)