Preview: Three FA Cup fixtures to bet on this weekend

They say there’s no rest for the wicked; well, nor for any of the English clubs in 2023 following the World Cup break at the end of 2022. Despite a packed Premier League and Carabao Cup schedule of late, there’s still time for clubs to break off for the FA Cup fourth round – and there are some mouthwatering fixtures, to be fair.

BestOfBets previews three cup ties that deserve your attention on the final weekend of January and picks out some smart value-for-money bets…

Manchester City vs Arsenal, Friday @ 8pm
It goes without saying that this clash between the top two in the Premier League is the standout tie of the fourth round. Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta have gone from close confidants to direct rivals, although their respective team selections for this game will speak volumes about how much they value the cup.

It’s likely that Arteta will rotate more than his fellow countryman, given Arsenal’s position at the league summit and the smaller squad at the Spaniard’s disposal. Guardiola has the luxury of a deeper squad and that may prove the pivotal factor at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

City should edge this one, although it could well be an entertaining and close affair.

Our tip: City to win and both teams to score (14/5)

Preston vs Tottenham, Saturday @ 6pm
If you’re looking for an upset in this weekend’s cup action, look no further. Preston might be firmly wedged in Championship mid-table, on a mixed run of form (two wins and three defeats in their past five), but they’ll be fired up for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur.

Antonio Conte’s side are lacking a spark right now. And although they’ve completed the signing of Arnaut Danjuma – from under Everton’s noises – they may be susceptible to a fiery Deepdale atmosphere, especially if Conte makes changes. Much again will rely on Harry Kane – providing he starts – and his goal threat, amid Son Heung-min’s abject spell of form.

Preston are way out at 8/1 for the win, with the draw 4/1. Both represent decent value against an off-colour Spurs right now.

Our tip: Draw (4/1)

Manchester United vs Reading, Saturday @ 8pm
On how many fronts can Erik ten Hag keep competing with this threadbare Manchester United squad? We may get an answer to that question at Old Trafford on Saturday night, although it still seems a bit much to expect Paul Ince to pull off a giant killing against his former side with Reading.

The Royals are another mid-table Championship outfit who take on a Premier League behemoth in this year’s fourth round and they’ll surely struggle – even against a rotated United team. Ten Hag’s men have one foot in the Carabao Cup final, so expect the understudies to come in: the likes of Scott McTominay, Alejandro Garnacho and (whisper it) Harry Maguire.

A United win by a small margin makes the most sense, either 1-0 (15/2) or 2-1 (8/1) to keep them in the hunt, on another front.

Our tip: United to win to nil (7/4)

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