Chorley v Wolves
Friday January 22, 19:45
A classic FA Cup clash in the making
This is what the FA Cup is all about - part-timer heroes meet Premier League stars - and it's fair to say that Wolves haven't had the best preparation for what will be a challenging trip to the north west.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side go into this tie having suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats - and this visit to non-league Chorley won't be high on the Portuguese gaffer's wish list right now.
Having seen off Wigan Athletic, Peterborough United and, most recently, Derby County, in this competition, National League North side Chorley may smell another giant killing - and the Old Gold certainly won't want to give their opponents any encouragement on what promises to be a classic Cup encounter.
But these two sides do have history in the FA Cup. In fact, the last (and only) time these two sides met previously was back in 1986-87, when Chorley eliminated Wolves from this competition.
Expect Wolves to bear their teeth
The Molineux side haven't won on the road since the end of November, and their last win came in this competition, where they booked their place in the Fourth Round with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Santo went full strength for that tie, suggesting that he's taking the FA Cup seriously this campaign, and with Wolves hitting something of a Premier League plateau of late, he's likely to send out a strong XI once again.
The last time Wolves met a non-league side in the FA Cup, they went down 1-0 at Luton in January 2013 - but things in the Black Country have changed significantly since then, and an extended run in this competition - with a Europa League place at stake for the trophy winners - will be high on Santo's agenda.
Defensively, however, things haven't been so bright for Santos' side. The West Midlands club have kept just a single clean sheet in 13 outings, and will be desperate to put out a strong and stable defensive showing under the spotlights.
Despite their backline struggles of late though, Wolves certainly don't have issues hitting the net. The visitors have scored in seven of their last eight games in all competitions, with young duo Pedro Neto and Fabio Silva filling in respectively for the absent Raul Jimenez of late. The pair are both 4.216/5 to open the scoring on Friday night.
With one eye on value, I like the look of Adama Traore at 5.79/2 in the First Goalscorer market. The powerful forward grabbed the winner against Crystal Palace in the last round of this competition, and although he's only notched the one this season, his speed and strength will be a constant thorn in Chorley's side.
Chorley have nothing to lose
The hosts have had a dream journey to the FA Cup Fourth Round via Wigan, Posh and Derby County, and boss (and Primary School teacher) Jamie Vermiglio reckons his side can go one better on Friday night.
To be fair to Vermiglio, this is the ideal scenario for the Lancashire club. A part-time outfit welcoming Premier League opposition to Victory Park, with no pressure, and no expectations, on a less than perfect pitch.
But despite the 111 places that separate these two teams, the Magpies are no mugs - and they do have firepower in their ranks.
Chorley have notched in 90% of their home games this season, and all eyes will be on forward Connor Hall, who has bagged in every single round of the FA Cup proper this season - including the winners versus Wigan and Derby.
The ex-Bolton striker will be buoyed by those goalscoring exploits, and is a massive 21.020/1 to break the deadlock in the First Goalscorer market on Friday night.
It's not unusual for Premier League sides to take a bit of a time to settle into these non-league pitches - and with nothing to fear and nothing to lose, Chorley will be looking to start on the front foot and grab an early advantage to rock their opponents.
There's value in action at both ends
This one promises to be a fascinating encounter, between two sides who like to attack. I expect goals at Victory Park - and the stats back it up.
Over 2.5 goals has paid out in four of Wolves' last five on the road, and every one of Chorley's last six outings home and away. At 1.351/3, the odds are short - but if you do fancy the hosts to get on the scoresheet, then Both Teams To Score and a Wolves win offers value at 2.767/4.
Chorley have kept just a single clean sheet in their last eight, so it will take a heroic effort to keep out the Premier League opponents - the question is, how long can they frustrate Wolves, and can they nick one too?
Wolves to see this one out - but it won't be easy
Despite Chorley's unforgettable FA Cup performances so far this campaign, Wolves' superior class should ultimately see them through this tie.
Santo will want to see his side at their expansive best as they seek to navigate this potentially tricky tie with minimal fuss - but with the Wolves win at 1.132/15, it won't make you rich.
I think that the visitors will survive this clash, but it may not be straight forward. They will have a lot of possession, and no doubt pile on pressure for large portions of the game. As such, there could be value in the Corners bet market, with 10-12 corners coming in at 2.26/5.
That bet has landed in 6 of Wolves' last 10 outings, narrowly missing by one on two more occasions - and with Chorley partial to a corner or two themselves (11 of their last 12 games going Over 8.5 Corners), we could see the numbers climb pretty quickly.