Saturday FA Cup Tipsheet: Palace the bet to see off weakened Potters

Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace are fancied to get the better of Stoke on Saturday
Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace are fancied to get the better of Stoke on Saturday

The FA Cup fourth round takes centre stage this weekend so we asked Mike Norman to provide his best bets from Saturday's 3pm kick-offs featuring seven Premier League clubs...

"The Eagles got the better of The Potters in the Premier League just before Christmas and are now unbeaten in four against Saturday's opponents, and I believe they're worth favourites to win again."

Back Crystal Palace @ 2.166/5 to beat Stoke

Arsenal 1.444/9 v Burnley 9.08/1; The Draw 5.04/1

Arsenal just didn't get going last Sunday against Chelsea and obviously weren't helped by the early dismissal of Per Mertesacker, but the decision to take off Olivier Giroud was very odd to say the least.

It seems that every time Arsene Wenger and his Gunners side have a chance to gain some momentum at the top of the table they fail to capitalise on their excellent position, like when they were thrashed 4-0 at Southampton on Boxing Day, and then conceding a late equaliser at Anfield a fortnight ago.

So perhaps the FA Cup will be a welcome distraction, and I'm sure Wenger will field a strong side as he attempts to win the trophy for the third successive season.

Burnley will arrive at the Emirates Stadium full of confidence however having won five of their last seven Championship fixtures with a remarkable average of exactly four goals scored per victory.

Sean Dyche's men have absolutely nothing to lose, the pressure is off, and they're in fine form, so I can see The Clarets approaching this game with an attacking mindset, and if that's the case then we are set to be in for a very entertaining game.

Recommended Bet
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.89/5

Aston Villa 5.49/2 v Man Cty 1.784/5; The Draw 4.03/1

Aston Villa are on a scarcely believable five-game unbeaten run but perhaps never has a statistic been so misleading. The reality is that of those five games two of them were against League Two Wycombe, while they have won just one of their last 22 league games.

Remi Garde's men are also by some distance the lowest scoring team in England having netted just 18 times in 23 Premier League outings, scoring more than once in a league game on just the solitary occasion since September.

Some will argue that just putting in a respectable performance and losing this game will be the best outcome for Villa, and that's exactly how I see it panning out.

One thing we definitely know about Manuel Pellegrini is that he never makes wholesale changes to his side. Against Norwich in the last round Man City had the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling all playing a big part, and I expect Pellegrini to go with a strong starting line-up at Villa Park.

I know they've been poor away from home in the league but it's impossible to see anything other than an away win here and I fully expect City to achieve it with room to spare.

Recommended Bet
Back Man City -1 to Win @ 2.89/5

Crystal Palace 2.166/5 v Stoke 4.03/1; The Draw 3.55/2

I know it's stating the obvious but I believe Crystal Palace have a golden opportunity to progress to the next round here after Stoke had to play 120 minutes of League Cup football on Tuesday night before enduring the disappointment of losing a semi-final on a penalty shoot-out.

But it's not that a few of the Stoke players might be 'jaded' that swings this tie in Palace's favour, it's the likelihood that Mark Hughes will field a fresh, but much-weakened, side at Selhurst Park that leads me to believe we should be backing Palace here.

True, Alan Pardew's side have been in awful form in the league, losing four on the spin and scoring just once in six outings, but in the previous round of this competition they lined up pretty strong and got the better of an equally strong Southampton side.

Pardew's wish after that game was for a home tie in this round, and of all the Premier League clubs Palace could have been drawn at home against perhaps a Stoke side that is certain to be under strength is the ideal one.

The Eagles got the better of The Potters in the Premier League just before Christmas and are now unbeaten in four against Saturday's opponents, and I believe they're worth favourites to win again.

Recommended Bet
Back Crystal Palace to Win @ 2.166/5
(best bet)

Nottm Forest 2.962/1 v Watford 2.6413/8; The Draw 3.55/2

This has the makings of a decent match as Nottm Forest will definitely see this is a chance to progress to the next round.

Dougie Freedman's men are on a long unbeaten run of 13 games, recording five clean sheets in that sequence and never conceding more than once in a game. There have been a lot of draws in that unbeaten run, but crucially Forest are proving hard to break down, while at the City Ground they haven't lost for almost four months.

Watford were magnificent up until Christmas, climbing to seventh in the Premier League at one stage, but four consecutive defeats saw them fall back down the table, though a brace of victories over Newcastle saw The Hornets reach this stage of the FA Cup and climb back into the top half of the table.

I'm not confident that Watford boss Quique Flores will field a full-strength side in this match, and if that's the case then that could really level this game out with it simply boiling down to who performs best on the day. It really is tough to call.

The Hornets have struggled for goals recently however, and Forest don't concede many on home soil (just three in their last seven matches) so a chance therefore is taken on a tight, low-scoring affair.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.768/11

Portsmouth 3.211/5 v Bournemouth 2.447/5; The Draw 3.55/2

A huge FA Cup clash on the south coast and one that Portsmouth will definitely fancy their chances in having already defeated, and deservedly so, Championship promotion chasers Ipswich.

The lead-up to Pompey's replay with Ipswich was fascinating. Opening up at 2.982/1 on the Exchange to win the game, Paul Cook's men became one of the gambles of the season as their odds collapsed to around 2.111/10 at kick-off, and one major Sportbook company were actually as short as 8/11 about a Portsmouth win.

Ipswich were flying high in the Championship at the time and hadn't lost away from home for three months, and of course, they are two divisions higher than the south coast club. So the weight of money for Pompey told a story - that a lot of people somewhere knew that Mick McCarthy was going to field a weak side.

I know I've gone slightly off topic here, but I thought the above tale was worth mentioning as it's definitely something to watch out for in this weekend's FA Cup matches. Put simply, if a gamble develops there'll be a reason for it, so don't be shy about joining in.

As for this game the market has remained pretty steady, and I think that's because both sides are likely to line up strong. And if that's the case then Bournemouth should have too much for Cook's men.

I know Pompey have been going great guns at Fratton Park - up until last Saturday's home defeat to Oxford that is - but they're facing a Premier League outfit here, one in decent form, and one that won't take this game lightly at all.

Eddie Howe will aford Pompey the respect they deserve and he'll know not to make it an open affair where the home side can get their tails up and get the crowd behind them. I know a few people who fancy Portsmouth to win this, but I'm sticking with the Cherries, I just think they'll have too much class for their south coast rivals.

Recommended Bet
Back Bournemouth to Win @ 2.447/5


*You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73

**For individual match previews of every live FA Cup game visit our dedicated FA Cup section here on Betting.Betfair.

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