The English Premier League is finally winding down into a break after a fast and furious winter of key outcomes decided in nasty weather. By the time all 20 teams of the Premiership are taking part in another full Matchweek, the Primrose and Scottish Heather will be alive with spring throughout London and parts north.
But while a squad looking to earn the Premier League’s points crown can only set its teeth for long, grueling spring competitions, the FA Cup provides a chance to settle scores on a faster timetable, provided of course that some pesky minnows are taken down by a pair of Manchester nobles.
Saturday, March 18: Manchester City vs Burnley F.C.
The only FA Cup kickoff this Saturday has Manchester City handicapped as a whopping (-650) favorite to defeat Burnley Football Club, and advance to the tournament semi-finals. Burnley stands among the lower-tier brands trying to take revenge on multiple English sides who’re directly responsible for Clarets not competing in the Premiership these days. Sky Blues have had few problems with less elite lineups since dropping 2 points to underdog Nottingham Forest, and recently knocked-off Bournemouth, Bristol City, and Crystal Palace while surrendering only a single goal.
In what could be an emotional Football Association Cup medal round, it is likely that Man City will not simply rely on talent and depth alone. Arsenal F.C. has been dogged, determined, and dynamic in its quest to remain ahead in league points, and even a recent uptick in form and reliability from City has not been enough to draw level again after a tantalizing few days in February.
FA Cup punters may feel bad for Man City’s plight in the EPL if they live close enough to team HQ, but it is good news for Saturday’s favorites’ bettors that City has a lot left to prove venturing into the spring term. Sky Blues’ problem is that Clarets have been playing like a legitimate Premier League team that was dropped into the midst of English Championship by accident.
Clarets have not allowed a goal since drawing 1-1 in a typically tough bout at Millwall in February, and most recently pounded Wigan Athletic, a Championship side with its own storied tournament history, 3-0. In the 2022-23 FA Cup, Burnley defeated AFC Bournemouth 4-2 and allowed virtually no shots vs Fleetwood in the former club’s 4th Round conquest.
Burnley’s stubborn back-line has not impressed bookmakers when compared to Clarets’ impressive 71-goals-scored in league action so far. FanDuel Sportsbook is only offering Over (2.5) total-goals picks on Man City vs Burnley at the razor-thin betting price of (-210) odds. If it is going to be a wide-open fixture, are Sky Blues’ odds too generous toward a very busy, fatigued City squad?
We will all find out together on Saturday due to the current dearth of competing FA Cup tournament matches, but you will not find WagerBop caught holding a razor-thin, losing ML ticket.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (3.5) (-180)
Sunday, March 19: Sheffield United vs Blackburn Rovers
However, the bout in Sheffield on Sunday is only perceived to be a favorable draw for the recent Premier League side. Sheffield United is a minus-odds money-line favorite next to Blackburn Rovers’ pessimistic 4-to-1 line to win and advance to the next round.
Sheffield is having almost as fine of an English Championship season as leading Burnley, though the club’s limitations are as familiar as the decade’s early history of Premier League bouts. Rovers, it must be pointed out, stand in 5th on the exact league table Clarets are leading, and Blades lost to Rovers in a Championship match just days after Leicester was upset by Blackburn.
Blades have had Rovers’ number in all but a handful of other meetings since the turn of the new century. Such a history may explain why so many of FanDuel’s highest rollers are convinced that on Sunday, Sheffield is set to even this cycle’s score. It makes for an interesting chance to bet wisely “against the public” in a scenario that features no growing point spread or O/U number.
WagerBop’s Pick: Blackburn Rovers (+410)
Sunday, March 19: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Grimsby Town
The concept that Brighton & Hove Albion is an FA Cup “minnow” would make many Seagulls supporters cringe, especially since on Sunday the club is FanDuel’s (-900) money-line favorite to beat League Two underdog Grimsby Town (+1500).
To emphasize the point, Brighton upset Liverpool on Samurai Blue winger Kaoru Mitoma’s late winner to reach Round 5 of the 2022-23 FA Cup, whereupon Brighton beat Stoke City 1-0 to advance again before clobbering West Ham United 4-0.
Brighton’s starting 11, however, may not be at its best against Grimsby Town, which slipped past Southampton 2-1 in Round 5 thanks in part to Saints’ lagging form and quirky strategy.
It appears Brighton is locked in a mid-table logjam of point totals that includes Chelsea just 2 points behind and precious few UEFA qualification spots left to vie for. Given a solid Seagulls track record against League One and League Two minnows in the Football Association Cup, Seagulls manager Roberto De Zerbi’s Series A experience may lead to a game plan of very few perils.
Users of FanDuel may have a hard time understanding that point of coaching history, as they are helping build the odds on Over (3.5) total goals to a sublimely optimistic (-108) prior to the fixture at Falmer Stadium this Sunday.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (3.5) (-112)
Sunday, March 19: Manchester United vs Fulham F.C.
Manchester United is a (+200) futures pick to win the 2022-23 FA Cup, even after taking a historic 0-7 wallop from Liverpool in the Premiership. Man United does not have an easy quarter-final against scrappy Fulham, so the betting action on the club could well be attributed to the absence of Arsenal and Liverpool, the once-defending champ.
Red Devils must prove to supporters that its all-competition form is not as shaky as recent events would indicate, which is even more important than procuring any kind of short-order rivalry with Tony Khan’s promoted side. Cottagers, a 5-to-1 underdog for the quarter-final at Old Trafford, are an entertaining team that is filled with stopgap talent in the wrong spots but nonetheless has utilized great goalkeeping and deadly counters to threaten a UEFA qualification bid in Fulham’s maiden turnback at the top tier.
For Fulham, the bough may have begun to break in the frigid damp of March, as Brentford’s wing-worrisome attack broke through for 3 mid-game goals and a triumph that was more lopsided than the score indicates, just prior to Arsenal tallying another 3 goals last weekend in a significant whipping of its own.
Red Devils are coming into the quarter-final round limping after having dropped points to an ailing Southampton following the Liverpool catastrophe. But the red card taken by Casemiro will not affect the FA Cup lineup for Manchester United this Sunday, and punters are as optimistic as usually found with Red Devils at (-152) odds on Over (2.5) and handicapped at (-1) goal.
WagerBop’s Pick: No Wager
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.
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