THE FA Cup returns on Saturday as Swansea welcome Spurs to the Liberty Stadium. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Swansea v Spurs | Saturday 17th March 2018, 12:15 | BT Sport
Amidst their revival under Carlos Carvalhal, Swansea find themselves hosting Spurs in an FA Cup quarter-final. The Swans have been held in all three previous rounds against lower division opposition, winning a replay at the Liberty on each occasion.
Home form under Carvalhal has been at the heart of their venture away from the drop zone. Swansea have won seven of their last seven at home.
The last away side to win at the Liberty Stadium? Tottenham.
Spurs travelled to Wales in treacherous conditions back in January, and came away 2-0 winners, with Harry Kane only involved from the bench. This time around Kane won’t be involved at all after an injury picked up against Bournemouth last Sunday.
While the league is the bread-and-butter for Swansea, the international break follows this tie, meaning they can go full-strength and have a real crack.
Andy King and Andre Ayew are both cup-tied, and Jordan Ayew is suspended.
Tottenham lost to Chelsea in the semi-final of this competition last season. On that occasion they were unfortunate to run into the best team in the country.
This time around, Man City are out, along with Liverpool and Arsenal, making Spurs favourites to end a ten-year trophy drought. After consecutive 3rd and 2nd place finishes for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, this looks a great opportunity for the Argentine to lead his team to silverware.
Spurs are nine away games unbeaten, and the loss to Juventus earlier this month ended an unbeaten run stretching over two months.
At shorter than 1/2 there is little appeal in Spurs at the match markets, so instead I’d like to turn our attention to the bookings.
Referee Kevin Friend has cumulatively shown 56 cards in 26 games this season. That’s an average of 2.15 cards per game. He’s shown less than 40 booking points in 20/26, including each of the last six games he’s taken charge off.
Solely looking at cup games, Friend has shown eight cards in seven matches. He’s awarded under 40 booking points in each of those eight games. In the three FA Cup games he’s officiated this campaign, he’s shown just one card across the three.
In the absence of Harry Kane, Dele Alli may well operate higher up the pitch than has been the case this season. This was a feature that was evident the minute Kane went off at the Vitality.
Five of Alli’s ten goals this season have opened the scoring. He’s 7/1 to break the deadlock this Saturday, and it’s a similar price to what would have been quoted with Kane on the pitch, and Alli playing deeper.
With Swansea likely to sit off and nullify the space within which Son Heung-Min can operate, the movement of Dele could be key for Spurs.
Should he not start the bet will be void if a goal is scored before he keeps on. If he does start, then we should get a decent run for our money.