Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United
A match-up of two nineties premier League powerhouses who are enduring tougher times, this one looks ripe for a giant-killing – though we’d probably make Newcastle to be about 6ft 2 at best given Mike Ashley’s stingy spending.
Is it ok if we say that Rio?
Newcastle go into this off a loss at the weekend, their third in five games. They haven’t gulped down the sweet nectar of victory since December 15th, the tap of their revival and relegation escape being turned emphatically off by games againt Liverpool and United before the Stamford Bridge stop.
That recent run means the the magic of the cup looks as enchanting as a White House dinner at the moment to Rafa Benitez.
His priority is clearly the league with his side sliding back into the relgations spots and the team he picks will reflect that tonight, just as it did in the 1-1 draw first meeting.
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Here's how Newcastle United will line up for this evening's @EmiratesFACup third round tie against @Rovers. Kick-off at St. James' Park is at 5.30pm. #NUFC pic.twitter.com/RiwW0EfiPn
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 5, 2019
By contrast, Tony Mowbray put out a strong team, and he’s expected to do the same tonight, with Rovers comfortably midtable and within striking distance of a playoff spot if they can build momentum off their recent wins over West Brom and Millwall. Blackburn will fancy their chances tonight, and we do too.
Luton Town v Sheffield Wednesday
Two clubs in flux at the managerial spot duke it out for the right to face Chelsea in the fourth round, and the uncertainty around both clubs surely points to a tense night at Kenilworth Road.
The Hatters have drawn their last four as they’ve bid farewell to their manager Nathan Jones, who is bound for the bright lights of Stoke. It’s a shame for them as they’re second in League One and separated by just ten spots from the Potters in league places.
On the postive side, another nineties nostalgic name, and notorious hardman, Mick Harford. has been promoted to temporarily fill the gap at Luton.
They’re just nine behind Wednesday, who will not rely on Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence to pick the team until Steve Bruce takes over on February 1st.
The Owls have just three wins in their last 16 games, hence the change of coach, and they’ve scored just two goals in their last four games, drawing three of those before losing to Hull 3-0 at the weekend.
Luton haven’t been hitting the net all that frequently either recently, and the first game finished 0-0 between these two. Under 2.5 goals looks a reasonable wager.
Stoke City v Shrewsbury Town
Meanwhile, Jones’ new side will be enjoying their first home game under his charge against Shrewsbury, who looked set to take down the then-Gary-Rowett-managed Potters until Peter Crouch sprung from the bench and rescued the the former Premier League side.
The new gaffer has said he wants to look at this squad – he has every reason to given his first XI in Saturday’s away day at Brentford took a 3-1 pounding.
There are still plenty of names more commonly seen on higher-level teamsheets – Saido Berahino, Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, Jack Butland – and this is one lot of players who should be motivated to impress the new boss.
As for the Shrews, a 3-0 home loss to Charlton took their winless strek to six games, and heir 18th position in League One means they probably should be looking more at staying up that Wembley runs.
They’re record of just one win in 29 attempts agaisnt higher division opposition in the cup also doesn’t bode well, so we’d expect to Stoke to do the business this evening, and -1 on the handicap is tempting at 6/4.
*All odds correct at time of postingHit the net with PaddyPower.com