Liverpool v Cardiff
After a run of just one win in six outings across all competitions, it was normal service resumed for Liverpool before the winter break as they won three consecutive matches, and they’ll be hoping the break hasn’t halted any momentum they were starting to build.
We certainly wouldn’t expect a full-strength side here from the Reds, even if Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were both available for selection, The likes of Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi will likely fill in here, and it’s the perfect opportunity to try out some of the younger players coming through the ranks against a side that currently sit 38 places below them in the football league hierarchy.
Cardiff are still in a relegation battle at the foot of the Championship, though back-to-back victories have distanced themselves from that battle for the time being. They’ll relish the opportunity to play at Anfield again, and with Liverpool’s recent cup record this isn’t a foregone conclusion. The Reds haven’t won back-to-back FA Cup matches since February 2015, while on home soil they’ve won just five of their last 11 such games, with three of those victories coming by single goal margins. The value is getting the visitors onside here, and the handicap looks the way to go.
CARDIFF +1.5 HANDICAP
Nottingham Forest v Leicester
Forest’s main goal this season will be securing a play-off spot as they currently sit just two points off sixth, though we wouldn’t expect that to draw their attention away from this clash, and if anything, they’ll be taking some momentum into this. They’ll be hoping the 2-1 defeat to Cardiff last time out was just a blip, and they’ll like to focus on the fact that they’ve lost just three of their last 16 matches across all competitions, most notably a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the third round.
Leicester will be buoyed by the returns of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi, especially considering their lengthy list of absentees includes star striker Jamie Vardy. The Foxes had a tough fixture list to contend with before the break playing all of Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Brighton in their last six games, and they came out of it with a balanced W2-D2-L2 record from it. They have now won seven successive FA Cup outings, while their only defeat since January 2019 came against Chelsea. They’ve conceded just three times in those seven games, and at around even money they’re worth siding with here.
LEICESTER TO WIN
Bournemouth v Boreham Wood
Better known for the set of Strictly Come Dancing, Boreham Wood swap in the Foxtrot for the footy pitch when their side take on Championship promotion candidates Bournemouth in the fourth round. Currently 5th in the Conference Premier, they’ll be relishing the opportunity to face Scott Parker’s side and give their travelling fans a spectacle.
A current run of 16 unbeaten outings will serve as a good confidence boost, with their 2-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon in the last round the highlight of the lot, though this another step up and it would be a cup miracle if the visitors were to progress.
The chances are Parker will field a weakened side here with promotion still the priority, and two defeats from their last three outings isn’t exactly anything to write home about. The hosts are the clear favourites, though there are frailties to contend with and the magic of the cup may come to fruition once again here, though we’ll side with caution and go with the visitors on the handicap.
BOREHAM WOOD +2.5 HANDICAP