Cambridge Utd v Man Utd
Friday 23rd January, 19:55
Live on BBC 1
As the clock ticked over to 90 minutes in Cambridge United's FA Cup second round match with Mansfield The Us were heading out of the competition. 90 seconds later Kwesi Appiah found the back of the net to level the match at 2-2 and force a replay. The celebration was exuberant enough to earn him a booking, but neither he nor any of those in the Abbey Stadium could have anticipated that it would ultimately lead to a fourth round clash with one of the biggest clubs in world football.
And they welcome Manchester United this Friday night amid a strong run of form having won each of their last three fixtures. The 2-1 third round FA Cup win against Luton at the beginning of this month has since been followed by a 1-0 victory away at Carlisle and then a 4-0 home victory over Newport County last weekend.
Top scorer Ryan Donaldson scored the winner in that 2-1 victory against Luton and now has six for the season, but the aforementioned Appiah won't be involved after his loan deal from Crystal Palace expired in January and he then went to join up with the Ghanaian national team at the Africa Cup of Nations. Luke Chadwick could be set to line up against his former club.
A run of just one loss in 13 games makes for pleasant reading, but if we take a closer look at more recent form and performances then all is not so rosy in the garden of Manchester United Football Club. A run of six consecutive wins prior to Christmas were celebrated with caution due to the manner of those victories and more recent form figures of two wins (against Yeovil and QPR) in five have vindicated the restraint that most showed towards the success of Louis van Gaal's side at the back end of last year.
Wayne Rooney is now without a goal in five games, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie have scored just once each in the same number of games and Angel Di Maria no longer looks to be the perennial threat that he was in the opening couple of months of the season.
Victor Valdes is expected to make his debut for the club this Friday, but if the third round tie against Yeovil is anything to go by then we shouldn't expect too many changes to the Manchester United starting XI.
The betting here is almost identical to that for Manchester United's third round clash with Yeovil, with the Premier League side priced at odds of 1.232/9, Cambridge at a justifiably huge 17.016/1 and The Draw at 7.413/2.
As anyone who took the short odds on The Red Devils a couple of weeks ago will testify, backing an away team in this competition at around 1.232/9 could give you a few palpitations. Particularly when, as we saw at Huish Park, the match remains goalless at half time.
I can't suggest an outright lay of Manchester United here, but if you're going to be trading In-Play on this match then I'd be confident that we see bigger odds on an away win than the currently available 1.232/9.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
This market is also priced similarly to the Yeovil-Manchester United game and on that occasion it would have paid to go against the obvious and back the big odds on Under 2.5 Goals.
Like the Match Odds market, I expect that we'll see the short odds of 1.564/7 on Over 2.5 goals get considerably bigger at some point during the game. But unlike the above, I'd be happy to recommend a leave-alone-bet on the Under 2.5 Goals selection at odds of 2.747/4 this Friday night.
Half Time Score
Cambridge haven't conceded a first half goal in their last four games at the Abbey Stadium, while Manchester United have only scored a total of one goal before the interval in their last five matches away from Old Trafford.
Therefore I am going to take a chance on the game being goalless after 45 minutes with odds of 4.67/2 available on 0-0 in the Half Time Score market.
2pts Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.747/4
1pt Back 0-0 @ 4.47/2 in Half Time Score
Manchester United made it through and read our preview of their fifth round tie with our Preston v Manchester United Betting Tips.