Form often goes out the window in the FA Cup and there are always upsets but picking out those matches is a very tricky business. Here are a few picks for the 4th round that you may want to consider.
Aston Villa v AFC Bournemouth
Top of the Championship AFC Bournemouth have rattled in 57 goals in their league campaign and the Cherries get a second bite at Premier League opposition after having previously been knocked out of the League Cup by Liverpool at the Goldsands. There was a sense that they perhaps didn’t do themselves full justice in that match as they spurned a couple of sitters that had they buried in thier usual confident fashion, could have changed the complexion of the match completely. Astute young manager Eddie Howe will no doubt be stressing that they need to take their chances with conviction this time around.
Aston Villa are struggling in the top flight having netted only 11 goals in 22 ; they just can’t find the back of net and could potentially find themselves on the end of a harsh lesson on how to create and score goals when they run into Bournemouth this weekend. They look like a team low in confidence something which is reflected by manager Paul Lambert and his dull, metronomic demeanour. For sure, he doesn’t have a wealth of options at his disposal but Villa are looking flat. A cup run might be what they need but it is hard to just turn on the performances like a tap. Bournemouth have a decent chance to progress further here.
Rochdale v Stoke
Rochdale have won their last 3 games including a 1-0 victory over Championship side Nottingham Forest. They are not solely reliant on one player for their goals. Done, Henderson and Vincenti are all in double figures already for the season and will all be threats.
Mark Hughes has overseen a change in style from the old Tony Pulis Stoke by bringing in some real quality in the shape of Bojan. Stoke play far more attractive football these days but are much more vulnerable from set pieces; something Vincenti will be looking to exploit. If Rochdale can execute the right game plan and use the familiar surroundings of Spotlands to their benefit they have a chance to earn a result.
Blackburn v Swansea
Swansea need to bounce back from a drubbing against Chelsea in the league but Ewood Park will not be an easy place to go. We are yet to see whether Bafetimbi Gomes will fill into the big shoes left by Wilfried Bony and this game could provide him with the perfect opportunity to announce himself as the main striker. Blackburn aren’t pulling up any trees in the Championship but are currently sitting safely in mid-table. A cup run would therefore be ideal for them with not much on the cards in the league.
Birmingham will be right up for it against West Brom in a midlands derby and could nick a good result whilst also watch out for Crystal Palace away at Southampton. Pardew’s arrival at Selhurst Park seems to have generated a feel good factor at the club. Its hard to see any of Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs or Liverpool bowing out this early though.