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Feb 13, 2017
Feb 13, 2017

FA Cup preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United

FA Cup preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United
The fifth round of the FA Cup features the last 16 sides in the competition. A place in the quarterfinals is assured with a win, so every team will be looking to move one step closer to the chance of some silverware. Blackburn Rovers host Manchester United in the standout tie, but who will win? Read on for some insight.

A chance for the underdog

This year offers the lower ranking sides in English soccer a great opportunity to win the FA Cup. There have already been some major upsets in the competition - Wolverhampton Wanderers eliminated Liverpool in the fourth round (at closing odds of 9.88) and Stoke City the round before that (they were priced at 7.23 before kick-off).

Blackburn has struggled at the back but have scored in 18 of their last 19 games.

A win for Blackburn Rovers at home to Manchester United is currently 9.810* so it wouldn’t be the biggest shock we’ve seen so far. However, Owen Coyle’s side - currently 23rd in the Championship - will need more than luck to overcome Jose Mourinho and Manchester United (1.373*).

The two sides haven’t played each other since 2012 - the last seven times they’ve met, United has won four, Blackburn one and there have been two draws.

One positive Blackburn can take going into the game is their current form against the top six in the Championship (P:6 W:2 D:2 L:2). They seem to have a knack for performing beyond expectation against teams that would be expected to comfortably beat them - they’ve beaten the top team in their league (Newcastle) twice this season.

Counter-attack vs. Defence

Blackburn will try to stay compact and hold off United’s attack - a tough ask considering they have conceded 1.6 goals per game in the league this year. Although they’ve scored in 18 of their last 19 games, a counter-attacking goal is the only likely scenario that will result in the underdogs progressing to the next round.

Danny Graham and Sam Gallagher provide the main goal threat for the home side but despite notching 11 goals each in the league, they’ve only managed one between them in cup competitions - one or two chances might come their way, and they will have to be clinical if their side are to have any chance of causing an upset.

The struggle with squad rotation

Unlike other sides in the competition, Manchester United has opted to stick with a close to full strength side in both of their FA Cup matches. Several sides have fielded weaker teams - trying to minimise the impact the FA Cup has on Premier League performance - but have paid the price by being eliminated. 

Unfortunately for Blackburn Rovers, Mourinho will most likely use seven or eight of his core players - even with the return of the Europa League and an important set of fixtures in the Premier League. Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be given a rest and United will undoubtedly miss his goal scoring form - his 15 league goals equate to 39% of his sides 38 goals in the Premier League.

The two sides haven’t played each other since 2012 - the last seven times they’ve met, United has won four, Blackburn one and there have been two draws.

A draw might not be out of the question at 5.140* but considering United have the third best defence in the Premier League, an away win at the short price of 1.373* might still offer bettors some value. 

United have swept lower league opposition aside with consummate ease in the FA Cup this season - beating both Reading and Wigan Athletic 4-0. In fact, Manchester United has only lost to a side outside the top division in the FA Cup twice in the last 33 years (Bournemouth in 1984 and Leeds in 2010).

Think home field advantage will help Blackburn pull off the second-biggest shock in the FA Cup this year? Get the best FA Cup odds at Pinnacle.

Odds subject to change

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Benjamin studied English with Creative Writing (BA) before pursuing a career that combined his love of sport and fascination with betting. An avid fan of numerous sports, his writing now covers anything from in-depth major sporting event previews, to examining betting trends and techniques.

By Benjamin Cronin

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