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Swansea v Notts County: Back Magpies to make it tough for Carvalhal's men

Jon Stead has scored in every round of the FA Cup this season and netted in six consecutive matches before Saturday
Jon Stead has scored in every round of the FA Cup this season and netted in six consecutive matches before Saturday
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The Swans' manager might have incentives to win this televised FA Cup replay, with the winners facing the club who sacked him, but he is likely to make changes, giving Notts County hope of glory, says Ian Lamont...

"When you mix in the FA Cup games – a win at Brentford and the Swansea draw - Jon Stead had scored in six consecutive matches before Saturday and he is one man with FA Cup form. If you want romance in the cup, the striker can be backed at [4.5] to score."

Swansea [1.54] v Notts County [8.0]; the draw [4.4]
Tuesday, 20:05
Live on BBC1

Carvalhal's personal incentive to win

When the FA Cup comes around, many pundits speculate whether teams in the bottom third of the Premier League give it their best shot. Why? Last year, Arsenal won only £3.4m in prize money for lifting the FA Cup, while clubs surviving in the Premier League at the end of the season received double that at least.

"Only," because that's without each club's slice of the Premier League TV money. Last May, Deloitte Sports Business Group calculated that a Championship team earning promotion for the current season's Premier League were guaranteed £95m (plus £75m parachute payments if relegated again straight away in 2018).

So, the eagerness of the fans for glory could well be at odds with a club's board, who see much more value in just staying up. That will be partly behind Carlos Carvalhal's decision to make eight changes for the original tie at Notts County, just as he made six for the third round tie at Wolves - they drew and won the replay.

When re-signing West Ham's Andre Ayew for £18m and Leicester's Andy King on loan, Carvalhal pointed to the priorities by saying they had the "quality and attitude" to help them avoid relegation.

The Portuguese manager said that beating Arsenal "tasted like honey". Defeating Liverpool was also pretty sweet and under their new leader the Swans have four wins and four draws and only one defeat in nine games. What would an FA Cup defeat to a lower division side taste like, when trying to avoid relegation?

The manager says the Swans have the depth of the squad to cope with making lots of changes for cup matches, but he will be without two of those regular swap-ins, Wilfried Bony and Leroy Fer, who have just suffered season-ending injuries.

In the past two seasons, the Welsh side have lost in the third round. However, perhaps Carvalhal has a private incentive to win. Since the first match at Meadow Lane, the fifth round draw has pitted the winners here against Sheffield Wednesday - who sacked him on Christmas Eve, with Swansea snapping him up four days later.

The Magpies have more than Steady form

Notts County have form of their own. They are having a terrific season in League Two. However, they were second with a five point gap to third and have watched that evaporate. They now sit third, a point behind second placed Wycombe, after winning once in five games (three defeats) with the FA Cup proving a distraction.

Then, on Saturday, they bounced back with a 4-1 thrashing of lowly Crewe, in front of 17,000 fans: a big crowd at the Liberty Stadium won't throw them. Nor facing a higher ranked team. They beat Bristol Rovers as well as Brentford in previous rounds.

When you mix in the FA Cup games - a win at Brentford and the Swansea draw - Jon Stead had scored in six consecutive matches before Saturday and he is one man with FA Cup form. He scored Bradford's first at Chelsea in a 4-2 win as the League One side overturned a 2-0 deficit in 2015. Jose Mourinho was very impressed with Stead.

Magpies manager Kevin Nolan has strengthened his squad, signing Crystal Palace midfielder Noor Husin in early January. The Magpies added 21-year-olds Mason Bennett, a striker, from Derby and Brighton defender Ben Hall more recently. On Saturday, both Husin and Bennett scored.

He also has a host of players hungry for success. Jorge Grant, on loan from Nottingham Forest, has been a huge part of their success this season, scoring 17 times.

Nolan's charges will be given hope by the fact Swansea have lost three of their last five FA Cup replays in which they have been the higher ranked side, point out Opta.

All of this context accounts for the fact that Notts County are as short as [8.0] to win when they could easily be double figures. The draw, for the 90 minute result, looks tempting at [4.4], if not laying the hosts at [1.54] to cover two results.

Visitors can keep it tight

Swansea have only scored 20 goals in the Premier League this season, conceding 37, while from 30 league matches Notts County have scored 52 and conceded 33. If they attack - and they have nothing to lose - they have the experience and hunger to unsettle whatever side Carvalhal puts out. They are capable of keeping it tight, too. In 19 of those games they have conceded zero or one. They will be well drilled.

Opta point out that they have lost just one of their last seven games on the road in all competitions, drawing four. To continue that this result will have to be tight against what should be superior opposition. Therefore under 2.5 goals is worth a wager at [2.2].

Look to the underdogs for value in the scoring markets

In the "first goalscorer" market, Luciano Narsingh at [10.5] might be more of a supplier from the wing than expected to reproduce his goal from the first tie and Bony's absence puts more pressure on Tommy Abraham at [5.2]. Defender Alfie Mawson at [16.0] looks capable of towering headers from set pieces, while Ayew will have his supporters at [5.5].

The fascinating prices are, as ever, with the underdogs. Can they score first? If so, Stead is [11.0] (he has scored in each round) as is Grant, then former Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi is [14.5] while relative newcomer Husin is [23.0].

You want "romance" in the cup? Back Stead, but at [4.5] in the "to score" market, again applying to the 90 minute result. Interestingly, layers distinguish between his price and Grant's in that category, making the latter shorter at [3.75].

P/L 2017-18

FA Cup +16.75pts

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