FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Rochdale vs. Stoke City

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Spotland Stadium – Monday, January 26 – 20:00

Match odds: Rochdale 4/1 – Draw 14/5 – Stoke 4/6

Stoke City make a short trip to Rochdale in the FA Cup on Monday night in what promises to be an absolute cracker as Rochdale look to add to what has already been a weekend of shocks in the competition.

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The League One side are chasing promotion and sit in fifth place in the third tier of English football going into the game, and have won their last three in all competitions, including a 1-0 win against Nottingham Forest in the last round of the FA Cup.

Rochdale’s home record in all competitions: Played 18 – Won 7 – Drawn 3 – Lost 8

Stoke are 39 places higher than Rochdale in English football and sit in tenth place in the Premier League. The Potters come into the game in good form having won four of their last six and saw off Wrexham in the third round earlier this month.

Both sides will face strong lineups, with Mark Hughes likely to give Jack Butland and Steve Sidwell a chance to impress. Ryan Shawcross and Jon Walters are doubtful but could make the trip.

Predicted lineups for Rochdale vs. Stoke (via Lineupbuilder.com)

Predicted lineups for Rochdale vs. Stoke (via Lineupbuilder.com)

Stoke have only lost one of their last four away games and that was at Arsenal so they will be confident of progressing to the next round, but will have to take the game seriously to ensure they don’t join the list of Premier League clubs who fell to lower opposition this weekend.

Stoke’s away record in all competitions: Played 13 – Won 5 – Drawn 3 – Lost 5

This will be the 10th meeting between the two sides, and the first in the FA Cup. Stoke have won five of the previous nine meetings with Rochdale winning two and there have been two draws.

The most recent meeting was in the League Cup eight years ago as Rochdale knocked the Potters out of the competition in the first round on penalties, after drawing 2-2 in extra-time.

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Rochdale fans will be hoping for success this time around too and will take confidence from the performances of the Cambridge United, Bradford City, Middlesbrough, Bolton and Blackburn as they all held or beat top half Premier League sides this weekend.

Rochdale’s last five in all competitions: L/L/W/W/W

Stoke City’s last five in all competitions: W/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: Rochdale have only beaten a top flight team in the cup once from 13 attempts (Coventry in 1971)

Key Player: Bojan Krkic – The Stoke playmaker has been excellent since joining in the summer. He’s scored four goals and picked up one assist in 17 games. He will be a key factor is he plays.

Rochdale vs Stoke Prediction: Rochdale 1–2 Stoke City – The Potters to edge what should be a thrilling game.


Aston Villa vs. AFC Bournemouth: FA Cup Preview and Prediction

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Villa Park – Sunday, January 25 – 15:00

Odds: Aston Villa 13/10 – Draw 23/10 – Bournemouth 21/10

Aston Villa welcome AFC Bournemouth to Villa Park in the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon in what should be a thriller, with a high chance of a cup upset.

Villa are struggling in the Premier League once again and are the division’s lowest scorers with just 11 in 22 this season. They sit in 15th place and are without a league win in seven.

Aston Villa home record in all competitions: Played 13 – Won 4 – Drawn 2 – Lost 7

On the other hand, Bournemouth are flying high in the Championship and sit top of the pile after 27 games. They have lost two of their last three however and failed to score for just the third time in the league this season in Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss at Leeds.

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The Cherries are the Championship’s top scoring side (57) and have been incredible away from home, winning eight of their 14 in the league – also the best record in the division.

Bournemouth’s away record in all competitions: Played 17 – Won 11 – Drawn 3 – Lost 3

Eddie Howe’s side beat Rotherham United 5-1 away from home in the third round of the FA Cup earlier this month and will be confident of progressing against the Villains on Sunday.

Aston Villa beat Blackpool 1-0 in the last round but that is the only goal Paul Lambert’s side have scored in six.

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He will hope that they can their turn their fortunes around against Championship opposition again but this will be a real test for the seven-time FA Cup winners.

This will be just the fifth meeting between the two sides, and the first in 27 years. Villa have won two of the previous four games, while Bournemouth have only beaten Villa once in their history – a 3-0 win back in 1971.

Aston Villa’s last five in all competitions: D/D/W/L/L

Bournemouth’s last five in all competitions: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: To goal or not to goal – Aston Villa are the lowest scoring side (11) in the top four tiers of English football, while Bournemouth are the top scorers (57) of all the Football League and Premier League clubs in England.

Key Player: Matt Ritchie – The Bournemouth playmaker has been in fine form this season, scoring seven goals and picking up 11 assists in 27 appearances. Expect him to be at the heart of the Cherries’ attacking play.

Aston Villa vs. Bournemouth Prediction: Aston Villa 0 – 2 AFC Bournemouth

Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City: FA Cup Preview and Prediction

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Ewood Park – Saturday January 24 – 12:45

Match odds: Blackburn Rovers 2/1 – Draw 23/10 – Swansea City 11/8

The early kick off on Saturday’s FA Cup weekend should be a really hard fought tie as Championship side Blackburn Rovers entertain Premier League opponents Swansea City at Ewood Park.

Blackburn overcame fellow Championship side Charlton Athletic 2-1 in the third round, while Gary Monk’s Swansea thumped League Two side Tranmere Rovers 6-2.

Blackburn Rovers’ home record in all competitions: Played 14 – Won 6 – Drawn 4 – Lost 4

Blackburn are currently sitting 10th in the Championship and have been in steady form this season but are without a win in their last four games.

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This will be the first time the sides have met since 2012 before Blackburn’s relegation from the Premier League. Swansea came out on top in that tie, winning 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Both Nathan Dyer and Gylfi Sigurdsson were on the score sheet that day and there is every chance that will happen again in tomorrow’s fixture, as they are the joint top scorers in the side now Wilfried Bony has left.

Swansea City’s away record in all competitions: Played 12 – Won 3 – Drawn 3 – Lost 6

Swansea have been inconsistent on the road this season winning only three times, and they will be looking to bounce back from that 5-0 thumping at the hands of Chelsea last Saturday. Gary Monk will be expecting a tough tie as we all know about home advantage in the cup.

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The Swans have scored 11 goals in their last six away games, while Blackburn have failed to find the net in their last two home games. But they put four past Swansea the last time the Welsh club visited Ewood Park in 2011 and will hope for a repeat performance.

Blackburn Rovers last five in all competitions: L/D/W/L/D

Swansea City’s last five in all competitions: L/D/W/D/L

Key Stat: Defensive frailties – The Swans have only kept three clean sheets away from home all season while Blackburn have only kept four at home.

Key Player: Jordan Rhodes – The Blackburn goal machine only has nine this campaign so far but is always one to watch and will relish the chance to impress against the Premier League side.

Blackburn vs. Swansea Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Swansea City – a hard battle for both sides but the Premier League outfit to edge it.

Liverpool vs. Bolton Wanderers: FA Cup Preview and Prediction

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Anfield Stadium – Saturday January 24th – 17:30

Match Odds: Liverpool 2/7 – Draw 9/2 – Bolton Wanderers 9/1

Bolton Wanderers travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool on Saturday evening in search of a great cup upset in the FA Cup fourth round.

However, Liverpool are expected to progress following a recent run that has put their season back on course as they are now unbeaten in nine in all competitions and haven’t lost at home since early November.

Liverpool’s home record in all competitions: Played 17 – Won 6 – Drawn 8 – Lost 3

The Reds are chasing a top four spot in the Premier League but remain off the pace at the moment and are relying on slip ups from teams like Tottenham, Southampton and Arsenal above them.

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But the FA Cup brings a fresh challenge and another possibility of silverware, and following a near upset at AFC Wimbledon in the last round, Brendan Rodgers will want to field a strong side so they have best chance to avoid an upset in front of their own fans.

The Reds are one game away from a cup final at Wembley in the League Cup, and the home fans will expect to see them progress in the FA Cup too against a Bolton side that has lost nine of 15 games away from home this season.

Bolton Wanderers away record in all competitions: Played 15 – Won 4 – Drawn 2 – Lost 9

Bolton will come into this game in full confidence though as they are currently on a three game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

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Emile Heskey returned to English football with Bolton last month and so they have the experience needed to cause an upset.

Heskey is of course returning to his old stomping ground at Liverpool where he was part of the side that won the FA Cup in 2001.

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This will be the first meeting between the two sides in three years, and Bolton won that game 3-1 in front of their own fans on that day.

Though that victory was one of very few in recent times as Liverpool had won ten on the bounce against the Trotters before then.

Liverpool’s last five in all competitions: D/W/W/W/D

Bolton’s last five in all competitions: W/L/W/D/W

Key Stat: Liverpool have not lost a game in all competitions since the December 14, against Manchester United – an unbeaten run of nine has followed.

Key Player: Emile Heskey – Providing Heskey plays, he will be a huge threat in the box and has the experience to cause the Liverpool defence problems.

Liverpool vs. Bolton Prediction: Liverpool 2 – 0 Bolton Wanderers – Liverpool should cruise through to the last 16.

MLSGB FA Cup Fourth Round Predictions

This weekend sees a break from league action for those sides that are still in the FA Cup and we take a look at the fourth round fixtures to see how each team will fair.

Ben Ashton takes a stab at the possible outcomes of the action this weekend.

Here’s this week’s FA Cup fourth round predictions:

Friday 23 January 2015

Cambridge United vs Manchester United (19:55)

Manchester United faced a possible upset in the third round away at Yeovil Town but they came through that test comfortably in the end and I expect them to do so once again against a modest Cambridge.

Prediction: 0-2

Saturday 24 January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City (12:45)

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Both sides have stuttered recently in the Championship and Premier League respectively and are both without a win in four which is why it’s likely to end all square.

Prediction: 1-1 (Swansea City to win the replay 2-0)

Birmingham City vs West Bromwich Albion

Birmingham have picked things up recently after a torrid start to the season which saw them record just two wins from the opening 15 games. But any side managed by Tony Pulis will be tough to beat and the Baggies should edge this Midlands derby.

Prediction: 1-2

Cardiff City vs Reading

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Neither of these sides can have much to brag about this season as they both sit in the bottom half of the Championship. A cup run could potentially light up an otherwise dull campaign for one of them. Narrow home win.

Prediction: 2-1

Chelsea vs Bradford City

If Chelsea fail to get past Bradford at home in the fourth round, it would go down as one of the FA Cup’s all-time greatest upsets. But it’s not going to happen and Chelsea will cruise into the fifth round.

Prediction: 4-0

Derby County vs Chesterfield

Derby’s priority this season will be gaining promotion to the Premier League and they’re doing a fairly good job of achieving that so far. Chesterfield themselves are in a battle for promotion too and this game presents the opportunity of a mini-upset but Derby should just have enough.

Prediction 1-0

Manchester City vs Middlesbrough

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City will be crushed after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the league but they need to bounce back quickly. And what better opportunity than against a Championship side whose priorities are trying to gain promotion.

Prediction: 2-0

Preston North End vs Sheffield United

Preston are going well in League One despite going four without a win. They should have a slight advantage in the sense that Sheffield United had to play a League Cup game against Tottenham in midweek so they may be suffering from that. The Blades’ cup form has been excellent in recent times though and that should be enough to bring the game back to Bramall Lane.

Prediction: 1-1 (Sheffield United to win the replay 1-0)

Southampton vs Crystal Palace

If this game was due to be played six weeks ago, you’d expect a comfortable Southampton win, but Palace look revitalised under new manager Alan Pardew which will make for a tight game. However, the Saints should just edge it and Palace will be subjected to their first defeat under the new boss.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunderland vs Fulham

This is a game that Sunderland could probably do without given the fact they need to concentrate on Premier League survival. Fulham look to be safe in the Championship and a cup run would be a welcome bonus. But the advantage of being at home and having Jermain Defoe at their disposal should see Sunderland through.

Prediction: 2-0

Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City

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Tottenham have been playing well recently, despite a blip at Selhurst Park when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace. Leicester have also picked up a few points of late to give themselves a chance of escaping relegation, and that will be their number one objective this season. Spurs should go through without too many problems.

Prediction: 2-0

Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers (17:30)

Brendan Rodgers has quietly but effectively set about turning Liverpool’s season around. The Reds could do with a good send-off for skipper Steven Gerrard who will be joining LA Galaxy in the summer, so they will be desperate to do well in the FA Cup. Bolton have also turned it around under Neil Lennon but getting a result at Anfield will be too much to ask.

Prediction: 3-0

Sunday 25 January 2015

Bristol City vs West Ham United (14:00)

Sam Allardyce hasn’t always prioritised the FA Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this game. Bristol City are flying high in League One and will fancy themselves to get at the Hammers. This should be an entertaining game.

Prediction: 1-1 (West Ham United to win the replay 2-0)

Aston Villa vs Bournemouth

Villa Park will be the most likely destination for a cup upset this weekend. But in truth, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Bournemouth have been scintillating this season in the Championship, while Aston Villa have been very much the opposite in the Premier League. I fancy the Cherries to win this.

Prediction: 0-2 

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal

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Defensive stability isn’t something we normally associate with Arsenal in recent years, but with three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions they’re starting to look solid at the back, which is the main reason I don’t see Brighton getting anything from this game. Arsenal’s attacking threat isn’t bad either.

Prediction: 0-2

Monday 26 January 2015 (20:00)

Rochdale vs Stoke City

This fixture has all the makings of a classic FA Cup tie. On paper, it looks as though Stoke will comfortably sweep Rochdale aside, but I get the feeling it won’t be as easy as that. The magic of the cup should be there for all to see in this one.

Prediction: 2-2 (Stoke City to win the replay 3-1)

Who will make the fifth round of the FA Cup?