Everything is coming up roses. We’re almost through January (officially the worst month of the year). The days are getting longer. The nights are starting to get lighter. And now we are treated to some Friday night football on BBC 1 courtesy of the FA Cup.
Unfortunately it’s a game that isn’t particularly attractive to punters, with 2/9 favourites Manchester United travelling to League Two side Cambridge United. The romance of the cup maybe, but as a punter it’s not the kind of price we’re overly keen in breaking open the piggy bank for. Luckily, with the help of some number-crunchers in Power Tower, we have delved into the statistics to bring you five punts that are slightly better value to make sure you still have a betting interest in Friday’s game.
Manchester Utd to win and over 2.5 goals: 4/6
Louis van Gaal’s side have won 11 times in the league this season – and in nine of those victories there have been over 2.5 goals. United have a wealth of attacking options available with Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria all set to grace the turf at the Abbey Stadium so a high-scoring game is very possible. In League Two, 67 per cent of Cambridge United’s home games have featured over 2.5 goals so an attacking feast should be on offer as we settle down to some Friday night football. If you think Manchester United will win, and want to get slightly better odds than 2/9, this is the bet for you.
Wayne Rooney to score and Manchester Utd to win: Evens
Not the most imaginative punt, but maybe worth a small nibble. Robin van Persie is an injury doubt, while Radamel Falcao has hardly lit up the Premier League since his arrival. Rooney is United’s joint top-scorer in the league with eight goals and has a decent chance of getting into Louis van Gaal’s starting XI for this tie. If you had backed Wayne Rooney to score first every week of the Premier League this season, you would be up 31 per cent currently, making Wazza more profitable than Sergio Aguero, Charlie Austin and Harry Kane.
Manchester Utd to win and both teams to score: 9/5
While Manchester United are flying going forward, they’re hardly watertight at the back. David De Gea has been getting plenty of well-deserved credit, although the injury-plagued line of defence in front of him has been as stable as a Katie Price marriage, and it looks as though Victor Valdes will be between the sticks in this tie. LVG’s side have 11 Premier League wins and in six of them both teams have found the back of the net, and Cambridge have scored in 75 per cent of their home games in League Two. A combination of a lower league home side with nothing to lose, a passionate home support and a defensive clusterf*ck from Phil Jones might be all it takes for this bet to click at a decent price.
Manchester Utd to win 2-1: 17/2
Let’s jump straight into the stats – 45 per cent of Manchester United’s league wins have been 2-1, and 50 per cent of Cambridge’s League Two defeats have been by the same scoreline. Can the trends continue? The 75 league positions that separate the two sides would suggest the margin should be bigger, however it took United more than an hour before they broke down League One strugglers Yeovil and that was through an exceptional piece of skill from Ander Herrera. The Cambridge United players will be well up for this task, and don’t be surprised if it isn’t the one-sided mauling some would have you believe.
Chris Smalling to score and Manchester Utd to win: 12/1
It’s tough to know if Smalling will start this game in United’s defence, but if he does, he might be worth a punt to get on the scoresheet. Incredibly in the Premier League, Chris Smalling is Manchester United’s most profitable player. He scored the opener against Hull in November’s 3-0 victory at odds of 33/1, meaning if you had the dedication (and were a bit mental) and had stuck £5 on Smalling to score first every week in the Premier League you would be £65 up in profit. And probably about to be sectioned. It is the most optimistic of the five punts, but it might just be worth another look come kick-off.
- Kick-start the weekend in style with our outrageous 400/1 FA Cup wacky accumulator
- Punting Hall of Fame: A weekend of coupon chaos results in one punter winning more than £13k off a £2 accumulator
- Liverpool v Bolton: Heskey returns – although there’s a better value 16/1 shot to find the net
- Southampton’s case for the defence: Why a solid back line is paving the way for Champions League football