Brentford v Leicester City, 12.45pm Saturday 25th January
To paraphrase Mark Twain’s old quote, rumours of Leicester City’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. After a superb first half of the season, The Foxes’ recent defeats to Man City, Liverpool, Southampton and Burnley led to fears that a top four place may be beyond them this campaign.
A 4-1 mauling of West Ham on Wednesday night, where they played some exhilarating stuff, put those fears to bed for now although a hamstring injury picked up by Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy isn’t ideal preparation going into this FA Cup 4th Round clash with Brentford.
The Bees’ form, on the other hand, has been almost impeccable since the turn of the year – winning three, including their victory over Stoke City in the 3rd Round, and drawing another. Their form has lifted them into the Championship play-off places and sees them dreaming of meeting the likes of Brendan Rodgers’ side again in the top flight next season.
Rodgers did field a weakened team in the previous round’s 2-0 win against Wigan and will no doubt rotate again. Harvey Barnes played up front in that one – and scored – and he also netted in his last two games. The young midfielder should start this one too and is 5/1 to continue his run of scoring form and 9/1 with Bet365 to get the first one.
Five of Leicester’s last six away games have seen both teams score and we fancy that again here at 4/5. Add an away win to the equation and you’re looking at a decent shout at 3/1.
Shrewsbury v Liverpool, 5pm Sunday 26th January
While the names on the Shrewsbury team-sheet may look unfamiliar when they’re announced at 4pm on Sunday, it’s a good bet that some of those in Liverpool’s starting eleven will do too.
Jurgen Klopp played an understrength side in the previous round win over Everton and it’s not a stretch to suggest he’ll do the same against a club 59 places down the league pyramid. Even if he does start the likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Pedro Chirivella they should have too much for a side who have lost to Doncaster and drawn at Fleetwood in the past couple of weeks. As such, 4/9 for an away win looks a no brainer here.
The Reds have won their last six domestic fixtures without conceding and should have no problem replicating that at New Meadow. That’s available at 27/20 with GiveMeBet.
It’s obviously best to wait until the teams are announced to tackle the goalscoring markets but, looking for value, Adam Lallana to net at anytime looks well worth considering at 3/1.
The clubs have only met once before – at the same stage in this competition in 1996 – when the likes of Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler inspired a 4-0 victory. We don’t think Liverpool will blow The Shrews away this time though. A relatively inexperienced team should have enough to navigate a place in the 5th Round but we like the look of a 0-2 or 0-3 win – available at 15/2 and 19/2 respectively.
And if you’re an old romantic who fancies one of the greatest FA Cup giant-killings of them all? Shrewsbury are quite short, at 13/2 to triumph over 90 minutes.