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Sam Hendry’s FA Cup best bets

Rochdale vs Newcastle United – Saturday 12.30pm

Steve Bruce’s Newcastle side have a couple problems heading into their 3rd round meeting with Rochdale

Firstly, they have a dreadful injury crisis, particularly in defence. Three players were forced off injured in the first half of their loss to Leicester last time out and they were reduced to 10 men when Fabian Schar joined them on the treatment table at the start of the second 45.

They also have an atrocious recent record in cup football: since Mike Ashley took ownership of the club in 2007, they have never made it beyond the fourth round of the FA Cup. There have been five defeats to lower league opposition in that time.

Rochdale haven’t been enjoying a great season themselves – currently occupying 18th in League One – but this is the biggest day of the calendar for them. It’s 10/3 for a Rochdale win or evens for the double chance of Rochdale/draw.

Preston North End vs Norwich City – Saturday 3pm

It looks strange to be tipping a Premier League side as the outsiders when facing Championship opposition, but that’s the case when Norwich travel to Deepdale.

Preston are 6/5 favourites but have only won twice in their last 10, suffering 2-0 home defeats to Reading and Middlesbrough in their last couple of games.

After making a strong start and seeing manager Alex Neil reject Stoke City to stay, they have fallen back down to mid-table.

Norwich, meanwhile, have been struggling for wins but the performances have largely been there. They’ve dropped points despite taking leads over Wolves, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace and have earned hard-fought draws against Leicester and Spurs.

They need a win to gather momentum for their relegation battle as much as anything and are decently priced at odds of 21/10.

Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest – Sunday 2pm

Chelsea have been far from immune from an upset in recent years – Bradford’s 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge in 2015 is still fresh in the mind – and it could be worth giving Forest a look given their huge odds of 14-1.

We’ve already seen Frank Lampard’s side struggle at home this season against the likes of Bournemouth, Southampton and West Ham. There will also be heavy rotation to their team as is always the case in the cup competitions these days.

The visitors have been in good form leading up to this with three consecutive wins taking them up to fourth in the Championship.

At 14/1 they are one of the biggest outsiders of the round, but the bookies could be underestimating them.


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