JACK LAMBDEN (@_JackL_) shares his views on the best betting opportunities from Sunday's FA Cup 4th Round showdown between Manchester City and Fulham.
Manchester City v Fulham | Sunday 26th January 2020, 13:00 | BBC1
With the league title seemingly surrendered to Liverpool, Manchester City know that the FA Cup represents a great chance for a trophy and they’ve been given another favourable draw to help their chances.
Pep Guardiola will undoubtedly rotate for this match, his pre-match comments say just as much, but whichever combination of players starts the game, you would expect City to dominate and ultimately be too strong for their Championship opponents.
The likes of Claudio Bravo, Eric Garcia, Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo and Ilkay Gundogan should start the game and try and stake a claim for be in contention for future Premier League and Champions League fixtures.
City’s record against lower league teams since Guardiola’s arrival in July 2016 is unsurprisingly strong, scoring 51 goals in 17 matches, an average of 3.00 per-game so there could be some value in looking at the correct score market. More on that to come.
The Citizens, no matter the opponents, rack up numerous shots per-game and in the Premier League this season they have been averaging 19 in total per-game and 7 on-target. Although their total shots to on-target ratio isn’t brilliant, I think they’ll keep Marek Rodák in the Fulham goal busy and was surprised to see the price of 6/5 available on City to have 7 or more shots on target with SkyBet. Given that the same bet is 1/5 with Betfair, I think Sky have got their lines wrong on this one.
A man who seems to thrive in these type of games in teenager Phil Foden. The academy product has been a regular in cup and Champions League games but is yet to establish a place in the Premier League starting XI despite impressing when he has featured.
Nine of the 10 goals Foden has bagged for City have come outside of the Premier League and with four goals in four FA Cup matches, including one in the 4-1 victory over Port Vale in round three, the 5/2 on the 19 year-old to score anytime with Unibet, best price 6/4 elsewhere, is worth backing in my view. I would expect those odds to shorten before kick-off, mind.
Fulham will travel north wanting to make the most of the occasion but their fans and Scott Parker will know that an FA Cup run cannot come at the detriment of the task of trying to win back promotion to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Although you would expect one or two changes for the away side given that they played a midweek match, the majority of those that started in the 0-0 draw at Charlton should start again here.
One man that is missing though is striker Aleksandar Mitrovic which is a big blow to Fulham. The Serb’s injury will keep him out for another few weeks and Bobby de Cordova-Reid has been starting as centre-forward in the 18-goal man’s absence. Reid’s qualities and stats this season suggest that he struggles playing in the number nine role and instead has a much better impact playing in a wide forward role, without a goal in three matches starting through the middle.
Mitrovic’s absence and Reid’s lack of goals since coming back into the side point towards the Cottagers firing a blank at the Etihad unless they can find a lot more cutting edge that they severely lacked in that drab Charlton affair.
Man City’s backline will have gained confidence as a group following the return of Aymeric Laporte at Sheffield United and the clean sheet that followed and, although Laporte is unlikely to start here, that shut-out after such a tough test is a marker of the defensive solidity needed to win a trophy or two before the end of the season.
Given my belief that Fulham will struggle to find the net and that City should come good against a lower league side again, the correct score prices should be looked at. The Blues are 13/2 to record a 3-0 success with Boylesports, in line with the goal average against this level of side as I mentioned before, but I will have a small dabble on 4-0 too which is priced slightly higher with the same bookie at 15/2.
Manchester City v Fulham – Manchester City to have 7+ Shots on Target (6/5 SkyBet)
Manchester City v Fulham – Phil Foden to score at anytime (5/2 Unibet)
Manchester City v Fulham – Manchester City to win 3-0 (13/2 BoyleSports)
Manchester City v Fulham – Manchester City to win 4-0 (15/2 BoyleSports)