Prediction Panel 2007/8: FA Cup 4th Round, 26 Jan 2008 - previews and predictions

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Antony Melvin


Antony Melvin is the squarefootball.net editor and spends his spare time sifting through needlessly abusive emails....
[full biography]
26/01/2008 11:00:00.
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The fourth round of the FA Cup is always tricky to predict, but there are some obvious picks. Arsenal will want to take revenge for mid-week humiliation and Newcastle are in their sites; Chelsea travel to Wigan - a ground where they always win; Liverpool play a Havant side fully 123 places lower in the pyramid and are 1/100 to win and Portsmouth face another south coast side in mid-table Championship side Plymouth. The final Premier League sides in action are Middlesbrough who travel to 91st placed Mansfield and Derby who will fancy a game against a struggling Preston team. West Brom travel in expectation to Peterborough; Watford face a tricky game against Wolves; Southampton have lost a manager and can't be sure of seeing off giant-killing Bury; and Coventry face a Millwall side struggling to stay out of League Two. Finally Oldham play Huddersfield in a all League One game and Barnet host Bristol Rovers - at least two League One or Two sides will be in the last 16.

Saturday's Premier League game
Saturday's FA Cup games
Sunday's FA Cup games

Saturday, 26 January 2008; FA Cup Fourth Round

Arsenal (2) vs Newcastle United (12), KO 15:00


Arsenal are long odds-on to inflict some kind of revenge after being humiliated by Spurs in mid-week. The fans have had a torrid week at work and will be baying for goals against a Newcastle side that looked strangely flat in Kevin Keegan's first game in charge.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Home
Antony Melvin: Home

Barnet (84) vs Bristol Rovers (62), KO 15:00


Both sides would have preferred the cash and glamour of a Premier League side as reward for getting this far; but the prospect of a winnable game for a place in the last sixteen is not a bad consolation. In the last sixteen their will be a lot better chance of getting a biggie. But first this game sees two teams struggling at the wrong ends of League Two and League One respectively. The Pirates will start as favourites; but Barnet have a solid chance of being the lowest ranked team in the fifth round.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Away banker
Antony Melvin: Away

Coventry City (39) vs Millwall (65), KO 15:00


Coventry have plenty of injury worries and their lack of form has lead to a series of league defeats; the win in the Cup is the one bright note of 2008. Mifsud, however, remains capable of scoring at a higher level than this and given Millwall's perilous position in League One if he gets room he will score. Millwall probably need to score to take this to a replay.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Home
Antony Melvin: Home

Derby County (20) vs Preston North End (42), KO 15:00


Two famous old teams meet in a welcome distraction from their league worries, where both have spent the season in the relegation zone. Derby's problems were somewhat more predictable than Preston's, who have felt the loss of David Nugent keenly. If Paul Jewell is building a team that has a future in the top flight then he needs to show his new recruits how to win games like this.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Draw
Antony Melvin: Home

Liverpool (5) vs Havant and Waterlooville (128), KO 15:00


There are some people saying that Liverpool can't win this game - they are of course talking figuratively because there is no chance that Rafa Benitez will take a chance on the result in the week that the Liverpool owners tightened their grip on the club - just as Liverpool weakened their challenge for the title. This is the biggest mismatch in the Cup since Manchester United played Burton Albion; and Liverpool may take out some measure of angst on a Havant side that is mid-table in the Blue Square South table. Liverpool are 1/100 to win.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin Home
Antony Melvin: Home banker

Mansfield Town (91) vs Middlesbrough (13), KO 12:30


Only Havant and Waterlooville are further down the league than Mansfield, who are threatened with relegation to the Blue Square Prem. Middlesbrough's form of late has been good - but with the future of Downing and Woodgate unsure they are likely to field a young side. Mansfield has been very wet this week - could Middlesbrough come unstuck?

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Away
Hugh Larkin Away
Antony Melvin: Draw

Middlesbrough expecting a battle at Mansfield


Oldham Athletic (58) vs Huddersfield Town (61), KO 15:00


There are a clutch of teams from the lower half of League One playing today, as Bristol Rovers and Millwall as well as these two are separated by just six points. Both teams had exceptional wins in the last round and that makes this fascinating - because the winner will expect another Premier League plum. Anyone can win on their day in League One; so this is too close to call.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Draw
Hugh Larkin; Home
Antony Melvin: Draw

Huddersfield hope for more FA Cup magic at Oldham

Peterborough (73) vs West Bromwich Albion (21), KO 15:00


Two teams that are well monied for their respective places in the hierarchy; Peterborough by the largesse of Darragh McAnthony and West Brom by the parachute payments from seasons spent in the top flight. Peterborough will be happy to be here, whereas this may be a less welcome distraction for The Baggies who are aiming for automatic promotion and may rest players. This could be a shock.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Away
Hugh Larkin; Away
Antony Melvin: Home

Portsmouth (8) vs Plymouth Argyle (31), KO 15:00


Portsmouth's African players will be back for the next round so if Portsmouth can ease through this game then they can dream of Wembley, because they are capable of beating any team on their day. Plymouth still have hopes of nicking a play-off spot in the Championship; but Portsmouth have simply too many good players for them. As long as Pompey take this seriously they should win.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Draw
Antony Melvin: Home

Southampton (33) vs Bury (88), KO 15:00


After losing their manager to Scotland, Southampton may enter this game a little tentatively; and Bury who only lost their manager, Chris Casper, a short time ago could benefit. Burley was working under tough budgetary constraints at Southampton - but the team will be confident of seeing off Bury.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Away
Hugh Larkin; Draw
Antony Melvin: Draw

Watford (22) vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (30), 15:00


Tough tie to call this one, Watford are struggling with their home form and Wolves are simply struggling - to the extent that Mick McCarthy will be under pressure for his job if they lose here. Watford, like West Brom, could rest players to help with their promotion bid, but Wolves may have the motivation to stretch the home team - eight points separate them in the league, this is too close to call.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Home
Hugh Larkin; Away
Antony Melvin: Home

Wigan Athletic (17) v Chelsea (3), R4, 17:15


An all Premier League clash sees relegation haunted Wigan face a Chelsea team that have won 75% of their matches played under Avram Grant. Wigan often do reasonably well against Chelsea, before the inevitable defeat - but with Chelsea missing so many players and the Champions' League about to resume Wigan may eye an opening.

Predictions;
Colin Illingworth: Away
Hugh Larkin; Away
Antony Melvin: Draw


(Figures in brackets are their respective positions in the league structure)


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