FA Cup 5th Round Betting Preview
FA Cup 5th Round
Crawley Town v Stoke City
Saturday 18th February 2012
Crawley Town – $3.65
Stoke City – $2.00
Draw – $3.35
Neither Crawley Town nor Stoke City would win too many popularity contests among the British football public, but both have been undeniably effective in the FA Cup in recent times.
The Premier League Potters did of course reach last year’s final where they lost to Manchester City, while the League Two Reds reached the 6th round and gave a fantastic account of themselves against Manchester United at Old Trafford, eventually succumbing to a hugely creditable 1-0 defeat.
This season Crawley are ticking along quite nicely in the league, currently sitting in 5th place and controversial manager Steve Evans has even managed to keep himself largely out of the headlines.
Their extravagant spending and reputation for arrogance since the late Bruce Winfield’s takeover, however, means that there is not too much love for the Sussex club outside their own small fan base and many of their rivals in the lower echelons of the English game would love nothing more than to see Stoke give them a proper towelling.
Their hopes of automatic promotion certainly took a blow when leading scorer Matt Tubbs opted to join AFC Bournemouth last month, but they still have several players well worth looking out for including on-loan Arsenal forward Sanchez Watt, former Brighton goalkeeper Michel Kuipers, livewire midfielder Sergio Torres and experienced ex-Derby and Rotherham defender Pablo Mills.
A side that loves to attack, Crawley have scored more goals at home than any other side in their division, have won eleven of their fourteen league games at the Broadfield and beat Championship teams Bristol City and Hull City to set up Saturday’s date with Stoke.
As for the visitors, they have not quite pushed on as far this season as many observers expected them too, although they remain comfortably lodged in mid-table and are still involved in the seemingly never-ending Europa League.
With just one league win since the turn of the year, however, manager Tony Pulis has been looking even angrier than usual on the touchline and he will surely explode if his side fall victim to a giant-killing this weekend.
The Welshman will certainly be tempted to shuffle his selection pack given that the Potters face another four games in the next twelve days, meaning the likes of Cameron Jerome, Ricardo Fuller, Dean Whitehead and Jonathan Woodgate may well see some game time.
Key defender and frequent goalscorer Robert Huth, meanwhile, remains suspended and long-term absentee Mamady Sidibe seems no closer to making a return to action.
Stoke will be expecting a rough reception at what is a tight, compact little ground, but Pulis’ side are no shrinking violets and should have enough about them to prevail in what is the first ever meeting between these two sides.
Prediction: Crawley Town 1-3 Stoke City
Stevenage v Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 18th February 2012
Stevenage – $10.00
Tottenham Hotspur – $1.28
Draw – $5.00
Harry Redknapp may be forgiven for having Poland and Ukraine on his mind as the FA seemingly prepare to offer him the England job, but the glamorous world of international football will seem a million miles away for the Tottenham Hotspur boss when he takes his side to Stevenage for Saturday’s FA Cup 5th Round tie.
Best described as homely, Stevenage’s Broadhall Way ground holds only a touch over 7000 fans and will be packed to the rafters for the visit of a Spurs outfit who draw a lot of support from the local area.
The home side are League One’s only representatives in the last sixteen of this year’s competition and have done it the hard way, securing impressive away wins at Hartlepool, non-league Stourbridge and Championship promotion hopefuls Reading, before downing Notts County at home in the last round.
Riding high in sixth place in the league, the Hertfordshire club have been seemingly unaffected by the loss of highly-rated manager Graham Westley to Preston and having lost just once in their last twenty games in all competitions, will not be lacking in confidence come Saturday afternoon.
One of the more familiar names in the Boro’s ranks is vastly-experienced goalkeeper Chris Day who began his career with Spurs before going on to enjoy spells with Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Millwall among others.
The 36-year-old famously owns a pub just a few metres from the ground and is therefore likely to be celebrating on Saturday night regardless of the result.
New boss Gary Smith, meanwhile, honed his skills in the United States with Major League Soccer side Colorado Rapids whom he steered to the title in 2010 and as a former Arsenal scout, he will be especially keen to put one over on the men from White Hart Lane.
But if Stevenage are bursting with confidence on the back of a fine run of form, Spurs haven’t exactly been too shabby in recent weeks either.
Last week’s 5-0 demolition of Newcastle sent out the clear message that the North Londoners are serious contenders this year and if they turn on that kind of style again this weekend, the hosts could be in a world of trouble.
With a cluster of vital Premier League games coming up over the next few weeks, Redknapp may be tempted to rest one or two of his key men, but with Wembley now potentially just three games away, the visitors are unlikely to risk making wholesale changes.
The injury-prone Louis Saha may be left out after making a sensational full club debut last weekend and Gareth Bale could also be handed a week off, but the likes of Younes Kaboul, Sandro, Jermain Defoe and new signing Ryan Nelsen are all in line for starting berths.
Having won the Cup on no fewer than eight occasions, Spurs have a superb pedigree in the competition and with both Manchester clubs already eliminated, will fancy their chances of adding to that tally of triumphs in May.
Newcastle found out last season that a trip to Broadhall Way is not to be taken lightly, but Spurs are unlikely to underestimate their League One opponents and should avoid this classic banana skin with some degree of comfort.
Prediction: Stevenage 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
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