Ricketts can mastermind another Cup shock
Bristol City v Shrewsbury Town
Saturday 4th January
Kick Off 12:31
Like so many of the teams over Christmas, the hectic run of fixtures caught up with Bristol City on New Year's Day. The 0-4 home loss to a classy Brentford was their fifth defeat in six games. With the league form tailing off, and Lee Johnson saying "whatever team we'll put out, we will be competitive", I think we have plenty of reasons to be interested in Shrewsbury here.
I like their price too at 5.04/1.
The Shrews are a fairly solid League One outfit, and Sam Ricketts has made them into a difficult team to face this season. On their travels they tend to be pretty tight. They don't score many, but they don't concede many either. Compare their dance card of F7 A9 on the road to Bristol City's home form of F19 A18.
There's a big advantage here too for the visitors as due to Bury's expulsion from the Football League, Ricketts' team last played on the 29th of December. Rest at this time of year is vital, as advertised by Coventry hammering the league leaders Wycombe over Christmas.
Which puts that home price of 1.768/11 under a bit of pressure.
Shrewsbury also had a decent FA Cup run last term. They produced an amazing fightback to knock Stoke City out by winning 2-3, and were fairly unlucky in losing to Premier League side Wolves over two games when losing the replay 3-2 at Molineux.
Ricketts won't be able to play his young keeper Max O'Leary, as he is on loan from Bristol City, but we have two options here in laying the hosts to have two results running, or simply go with the away win.
Grayson needs a response, and if he gets one, we can lay the hosts
Reading v Blackpool
Saturday 4th Jan
Kick Off 15:01
We have a similar sort of market and shape to this match, which is slightly puzzling considering Reading had a Christmas to remember by winning four games on the spin - banking 12 points in the process. They're a similar sort of price to a badly out-of-form Bristol City taking on League One opposition, so maybe we have a similar scenario?
The layers could be picking up on the post-Fulham comments from Royals' manager Mark Bowen. He said that he has "one or two young players chomping at the bit, and guys who have played a main role recently can have a break".
A completely different line up could alter the hosts' price of 1.875/6.
Blackpool aren't exactly playing with confidence at the moment, and manager Simon Grayson (pictured below) issued a stark warning to some of his players following a dreadful return of just a solitary point from four matches over the festive fixture list.
Grayson is a wily manager who has masterminded a few third round FA Cup wins before - famously with Leeds against Manchester United, so he'll be looking for the right response from his players on Saturday. The Tangerines' boss has tried to implement a new style of play, which hasn't quite worked. Another option could be reverting to a back three which he has mentioned before, but most worrying of all was the fact they were bullied by Rotherham in one of their recent fixtures.
The Seasiders have been eliminated in 13 of their previous 14 matches against teams from a higher division, so it hardly is a confidence booster if you are taking the 4.2016/5 on the Blackpool win. But with Reading in such good form and only five points behind sixth-place Millwall, there could be realistic chance of pushing for a playoff spot and a shot at the Premier League, so changes could well be on the cards.
It's a factor to consider, and at odds-on, we have a laying price. Click here to read how you "lay" on the Betfair Exchange.
Posh a big price to bounce back after a wretched festive run
Burnley v Peterborough United
Saturday 4th Jan,
Kick Off 12:31
If you were pricing up a game on Opta Stats alone, you would go higher than the Exchange price of 6.6011/2 for the visitors. So let's remind you of those stats, and look away now Peterborough fans. The Posh are winless in 26 FA Cup ties against top flight opposition since 1965. Burnley meanwhile, have chugged along nicely historically, winning seven of their last nine at Turf Moor.
However, out of the three League One sides in this tipsheet, Posh would have the quality and are the best team. Unfortunately they are so Jekyll and Hyde, we never really know what Peterborough we are going to get. Which makes them a non-starter when favourites from a betting point of view, but very interesting at sky-high odds.
Darren Ferguson's team had a miserable festive run of results with three straight losses. They were awful against Rotherham when losing 4-0, yet before the fixtures, Peterborough were in second place. So they haven't become hopeless overnight. Plus, Ferguson had a few injuries to deal with.
The away side have some dangerous forward players. The mercurial Marcus Maddison is well suited to their counter-attacking system at pace when breaking, whilst forwards Ivan Toney (16) goals) and Mo Eisa (15 in 29) have highlighted once again this season how good Peterborough are in finding goalscoring forwards.
George Boyd returns to Turf Moor for the first time in a blue shirt, and he absolutely loved playing under Sean Dyche. It's interesting that he mentioned in his day with the Clarets that they played two banks of four with 30% possession to hit teams on the break. So not a lot has changed since Boyd's days there, and I am sure he'll get a good reception at a club he served well for three seasons.
Posh have scored 22 goals on the road in League One, and they are a dangerous opponent when finding an "on day".