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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Midweek Football Picks 2017 (January 17-18)

This week has been reserved for the FA Cup Third Round Replays ahead of the Fourth Round which is going to be played in the final weekend of January.

It has been a difficult month for the picks as I feel every time I have taken a step forward I have followed with two steps back and that is frustrating to say the least.

I expect better from the picks, but I do think I have not had a lot of fortune on my side either and hopefully that can be turned around in the remainder of the month.

I would suggest looking out for team news for these Cup Replays this week with managers around the country likely to make changes with League matters taking the focus away, but the draw for the Fourth Round might have encouraged some changes in thinking. For example I would expect a stronger Liverpool side than the one that draw with Plymouth Argyle at home ten days ago as they have a very good chance of reaching the Fifth Round of the FA Cup with a victory at Home Park.

Wimbledon v Sutton United Pick: The Fourth Round draw for the FA Cup has been made and the winner will earn the right to host Leeds United in ten days time. After the criticisms of not seeing this tie selected for television viewing, more is on the line in the Replay with the decision already made that either Wimbledon or Sutton United will actually be hosting Leeds United in front of the live cameras.

That does increase the pressure on the teams taking to the field, but I don't think the players should be focusing on that. If you're in the Wimbledon dressing room you have to feel confident that your quality will eventually tell, while Sutton United might make the short trip to Kingston Upon Thames with a 'nothing to lose' attitude.

The initial tie was actually a good one and it is a surprise it ended goalless with the chances that were created. It might be a little different in this one with an opening goal likely to create a free, attacking game with both teams capable of exposing the other if they push too far forward.

Wimbledon have a significant edge being back at home where they have scored at least two goals in 7 of their last 8 games. The lack of clean sheets will make Sutton United feel they can play their part in this one too even if their own away form has been far from impressive of late.

Being back on a normal surface compared with the artificial one Sutton United use should also make the difference in quality between Wimbledon and their visitors a little more obvious too. I don't expect Sutton United to roll over but instead try their best to stay with Wimbledon and I think they might play a part, but backing the over 2.5 goals option looks the call with Wimbledon having a chance to clear this number themselves.

Barnsley v Blackpool Pick: I thought Barnsley had enough in the locker to beat Blackpool in the initial tie at Bloomfield Road and I am not going to change my mind when they host the League Two side in the Replay at Oakwell.

There are suggestions the home side will make some changes, but they have scored at least twice in their last four games here and that makes Barnsley a pretty big favourite to progress. Those goals are in stark contrast to Blackpool who have managed just a single goal in their last 5 games in all competitions and who are languishing in mid-table in League Two.

Blackpool have to be respected because they are unbeaten in 5 away games in a row and they have kept 4 clean sheets in succession in those games on their travels. However this is a significantly stronger test against a Barnsley team who have been scoring plenty of goals in the Championship and I do think the draw in the FA Cup has given The Tykes a chance for a deep run in the Cup this season.

Barnsley beat Blackpool 4-2 in League One last season and the teams have moved in different directions since then and I will back them to move past Blackpool in this one.

Fleetwood Town v Bristol City Pick: With the way things are going for Fleetwood Town and Bristol City in their respective Leagues this season, there is every chance they could be swapping positions in the Championship and League One at the end of the season. There is a lot of football to be played before that, but it highlights my surprise that Bristol City are as strong a favourite to win at Highbury Stadium as they are.

There are only 10 League positions between Fleetwood Town and Bristol City and recent form suggests there is an upset in the making in this Third Round Replay. Fleetwood Town have been playing really well at home where they have won 8 of their last 10 games and Bristol City have lost 5 in a row on their travels.

It sounds like Lee Johnson will also be resting some key players for the huge League game with Nottingham Forest this weekend as Bristol City try and arrest a really damaging slide down the Championship table. There is a Fourth Round tie away at a Premier League club on the line, but Johnson would rather focus on getting things right in the League.

For Fleetwood Town the chance to play away from home at a Premier League club could be a real bonus financially and I expect they will want to keep their positive momentum behind them. The home form makes it hard to overlook Fleetwood Town as the underdog and I will back them with the start on the Asian Handicap to at least force extra time in this one.

Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers Pick: Sam Allardyce has seen the size of the task at hand as Crystal Palace manager despite this being a squad that has felt like it has been underachieving this season. Any expected quick turnaround in form has not materialised for Crystal Palace who were crushed 3-0 at West Ham United on Saturday which has left them in a precarious position in the Premier League table.

There will be changes made for this FA Cup Third Round Replay by the home team, but Allardyce has to feel this gives his team a chance for a confidence boosting win. They rode their luck at times to come away from Bolton Wanderers with a chance to get things right in the Replay, and the League One club won't head to Selhurst Park with any inferiority complex.

Goals have been much harder to come by away from home for Bolton Wanderers, but they have nothing to lose here and a host lacking confidence with changes made could be vulnerable. However I do think Crystal Palace will create chances of their own and this could be a lively encounter despite the goalless draw in the initial tie.

Anyone who saw that game will recognise there were enough chances for an early breakthrough which would have changed the whole feel of that game at The Macron Stadium. An early strike in this one will certainly produce an open game and I do think there can be chances created at both ends of the field in this Replay.

It does feel like a game that may end with a 2-1 scoreline either way and I will back at least three goals to be shared out at odds against.

Lincoln City v Ipswich Town Pick: The television cameras have pitched up at Sincil Bank with the belief that there could be an FA Cup upset on the cards, but it all depends on whether Lincoln City believe they have missed their chance from the initial tie at Portman Road that they led 1-2 into the last few minutes.

With the home form as it is and Lincoln City leading the Conference, you have to think the belief will still be there and Ipswich Town have not won an FA Cup tie since the Third Round in 2010. That has to be a concern for those backing the Championship side, although at odds against I am sure they will have their supporters.

I just think Ipswich Town will make changes to their starting eleven and that could make them vulnerable especially when you look at the amount of goals their first choice defence have been conceding. Ipswich Town have conceded at least twice in 6 of their last 7 games which includes in each of their last 4 away games.

However they have been scoring goals too and Lincoln City have conceded in their last 3 here including twice to League One Oldham Athletic in the Second Round.

I expect both teams to have their chances in this one and I think there will be goals and backing at least three to be shared out looks the call. Both teams can play a part and neither will want to go to extra time so look for an attacking game with chances at both ends in this one and the goals to follow.

Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool PickJurgen Klopp faced some criticism for the team he selected in the initial Third Round tie against Plymouth Argyle, but Liverpool had control of the game and slightly better fortune in the final third would have led to a win. They are expected to start a stronger eleven in this game at Home Park even though Liverpool have an early Premier League game this weekend, and I do expect Liverpool to go through to the Fourth Round.

Plymouth Argyle are in a different position than ten days ago too as they won't be looking to defend deep and in numbers in front of their own fans. I imagine they begin like that, but this feels like it will develop into a more open game and that should favour Liverpool.

Playing at Home Park will be a test as it is whenever a Premier League club go down to a lower League club in the Cup, but Liverpool have won at the likes of Burton Albion and Derby County already this season. The team picked for this one might not be as strong as the ones that started those games, but there should be enough quality on the field for Liverpool to win this one with room to spare.

It won't be easy and Liverpool will likely have to weather some difficult moments, but they can win this one by a couple of goals as they punish Plymouth Argyle on the counter attack to finish the job.

Southampton v Norwich City Pick: It looks like this Third Round Replay means more to the Premier League team than it does to the one from the Championship despite the prize of facing Arsenal being on the line this Wednesday. It looks like the Cup competitions are Southampton's best chances of making this a memorable season, while Norwich City are trying desperately to make up ground in the Championship.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are changes made by both clubs, but Norwich City might have less familiar names in the starting line up. While those have something to prove and could raise their game, Southampton should prove to be too strong on the evening and move through.

I do think Southampton can win this one with a comfortable margin if they are able to be a little more clinical than the last time they played here against Liverpool. The home side created plenty of opportunities on that day and they could catch Norwich City out if the away team have to push forward to get back into this game.

This should be something Southampton can manage when you consider the amount of goals Norwich City have conceded away from home and I will back the home team to cover the Asian Handicap.

MY PICKS: Wimbledon-Sutton United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Barnsley @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fleetwood Town + 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.87 Bet365 (2 Units)
Crystal Palace-Bolton Wanderers Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Lincoln City-Ipswich Town Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Liverpool - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Southampton - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.02 Bet365 (2 Units)

January Update11-21-1, - 19.86 Units (66 Units Staked, - 30.09% Yield)

December Final38-40, - 7.93 Units (153 Units Staked, - 5.18% Yield)
November Final40-38-3, + 5.76 Units (159 Units Staked, + 3.62% Yield)
October Final29-41-2, - 21.23 Units (139 Units Staked, - 15.27% Yield)
September Final43-28-1, + 35.17 Units (133 Units Staked, + 26.44% Yield)
August Final31-38-2, - 9 Units (124 Units Staked, - 7.26% Yield)
Season 2016/17180-185-8, + 2.77 Units (708 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

Season 2015/16133-174-2, + 0.89 Units (669 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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