Oxford v Newcastle: Tense tie to unfold at the Kassam

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OXFORD host Newcastle on Tuesday night in an FA Cup 4th Round replay. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets.

Oxford v Newcastle | Tuesday 4th February 2020, 20:05 | BBC1

The televised FA Cup replay on Tuesday night sees League One outfit Oxford host Premier League side Newcastle. Naturally when there’s a disparity in leagues the top tier team are comfortable odds-on favourites but that is not the case here with the Magpies trading around the 11/10 mark in 90 minutes.

Oxford have played some brilliant football this season but the wins have dried up of late for Karl Robinson’s men with just one victory in their last five. Having said that, it was on Saturday where they defeated Blackpool 2-1 and that should give the U’s a confidence boost ahead of this massive tie.

Marcus Browne bagged himself a brace and revelled in a central striking role in that game – the U's still have the likes of Matty Taylor and Jamie Mackie who can come in if needs be too.

Robinson was busy in the January transfer window. Two key players in Tariq Fosu-Henry and youngster Shandon Baptiste made the move to high-flying Brentford which was a blow, however they have brought in midfielders Liam Kelly from Feyenoord and Nathan Holland from West Ham on-loan.

Cameron Brannagan and Alex Gorrin are two of the better midfielders in the league and have gained admiring glances from teams further up the pyramid. Rob Dickie is another player who has been coveted by big clubs, one of the more classy centre halves in the league.

Newcastle are the Premier League data defiers this season. The Toon Army sit comfortably in mid-table but going off Expected Goals (xG) they should be rock bottom. Both they and Crystal Palace just seem to be able to ride out storms very well but they have been lucky, that cannot be questioned.

Still, it would be a remarkable effort from hometown boy Steve Bruce if he can keep his beloved club away from the danger zone, many thought they were doomed when he came in but he’s doing a fine job for now and the winter signings of Valentino Lazaro, Nabil Bentaleb and Danny Rose gives greater options in central midfield and at full back.

Bruce would’ve been disappointed to not get another striker through the door as that’s the area of the pitch where they’re struggling most. Drawing a blank at home against rock-bottom Norwich exemplifies that.

Both Rose and Lazaro were signed too late to be registered for this game so both will not feature but Bruce has promised to go as strong as possible with the Longstaff brothers and Fabian Schar coming into the side.

The betting angles

I’ve personally found betting in the League Cup and FA Cup a bit of a minefield this season, usually down to a lot of unknowns, including motivation levels and team news. Having said that with this meaning a lot to both clubs it could be a tight and tense affair, similar to the first leg. I was surprised to see Under 2.5 Goals going off at odds-against (21/20 BetVictor), that does take some appeal.

Bruce has bigged up this cup competition as one they will be taking very seriously, he’s proved that with his team line-ups against Rochdale and in the first leg. It would get a lot of the sceptical fans onside and they’re not in any immediate relegation danger yet.

Defensively, Toon have been dogged with a five-man defence the go-to more often than not. Oxford, on the other hand, have been a little more subdued on the goals front compared to earlier in the campaign – 10 of their last 15 have seen fewer than three goals in all competitions.

There’s a lot on the line here and with a potentially winnable tie against a West Brom side with Championship promotion aspirations to come for the winner you’d expect nerves to be prominent at the Kassam for both sides. Usually that leads to few goals and a largely risk-averse set up and given the prices the unders looks a good thing here.

Given the potential for a fearful atmosphere the card markets could make appeal. Oxford average just over two cards per-game in League One whereas Newcastle average slightly less than two. With the line set quite low, there could be a touch of value and you can get 6/5 on Bet365’s BetBuilder when combining Oxford to collect Over 1 Card and Newcastle to collect Over 0 Cards and that appeals. It landed in the reverse game.

Best Bets

Oxford v Newcastle – Under 2.5 Goals (21/20 BetVictor)

Oxford v Newcastle – Oxford to collect Over 1 Card and Newcastle to collect Over 0 Cards (6/5 Bet365)

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