It's one of the true highlights in the footballing calendar and after the third round saw it's usually mixture of shocks, spills and routine wins for the big boys, the FA Cup will make its return this weekend. We're going to take you through a selection of the fixtures and give you our tips on the best use of your FA Cup free bets.
The weekend's action will kick-off with an East Midlands derby on the Friday night as Championship side Derby host last year's Premier League champions Leicester. The Rams have been a side reborn since Steve McLaren returned to the club after Nigel Pearson's departure and now find themselves on the cusp of the play-offs. Last time out they beat fellow promotion contenders Reading 3-2 and are on a very fine run of form at home. They are unbeaten in their last nine games at Pride Park and have already dispatched of Premier League opposition in West Brom in the previous round. Leicester on the other hand are enduring a pretty miserable season domestically. Their defence of their Premier League title has seen them look a shadow of the side that shocked the world last season and are slowly getting dragged towards a relegation battle. Jamie Vardy's fairytale story looks a thing of the past whilst this month has also seen them without the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, who are away at the African Cup of Nations. The departure of N'Golo Kante looks more telling with each passing week and too many of the squad are struggling to cope with the increased expectations. In stark contrast to Derby's good home form, the Foxes have been wretched on the road all season. They are yet to win away from home all-season in the Premier League although they did win at Everton in the last round of this competition. Are Leicester going to be that worried about further progression? Or will ensuring they avoid the humiliation of relegation be their priority? Well either way we can see an upset on the cards here.
After the midweek defeat to Southampton in the EFL Cup, this game has probably taken on a little more significance for Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool's season is in a little bit of danger of unravelling, given they have lost groud on Chelsea in the Premier League title race this month. The former Dortmund boss has previously played much changed line-ups in this competition but will that be the case on the weekend? With Chelsea in the Premier League in the midweek following the game, you would anticipate Klopp will be eager to keep many of key players fresh. Nonetheless the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge could well feature so Liverpool will remain a dangerous proposition. Wolves are an incredibly inconsistent side, so second guessing what kind of Wanderers side may show up is nigh impossible. After Liverpool struggled against Plymouth in the last round, will Paul Lambert's men adopt similar tactics? Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp will be looking for a response in this game and regardless of what kind of side he puts it, you have to imagine the Reds will get the win here.
The Saturday evening game on the Saturday will see Arsenal take on their bogey side Southampton. The Gunners have a pretty miserable record at St. Mary's and were on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing there in the league last season. This season the Saints have already knocked them out of the EFL Cup and the Saints will buoyant after their midweek victory over Liverpool this week. The Gunners have a good record in this competition, having won it in two of the last three years and are joint with Manchester United on a total of 12 titles in total. Arsene Wenger's side can at least take some comfort by the fact that Southampton will be missing star defender Virgil van Dijk, so how will the Saints backline cope with Alexis Sanchez and co. in his absence? Arsenal have been getting the results by hook or by crook lately and when you look at how they kept going to the end against Burnley, they are showing a greater level of resiliency this season. If Arsenal go at this one full strength, they have the quality to beat Southampton and are actually nicely priced to do so.
Derby v Leicester: We fancy Derby to maintain their good home form against an out of sorts Leicester side.
Liverpool v Wolves: As we previously alluded to, Jurgen Klopp will be desperate for a response from his men so we like the idea of them beating Wolves and scoring a few goals in the process.
Southampton v Arsenal: Arsenal at over evens looks a little generous for us. The Gunners are looking like they have the ability to grind out results as of late and we expect them to do the same here.