MIDDLESBROUGH were my Sunday Single to cause an FA Cup shock by beating Spurs last weekend and they can improve their position in the Championship further by beating Derby.
Ashley Fletcher’s eighth goal of the season wasn’t enough to give Boro a famous scalp — but it did earn them a deserved replay in London on Tuesday.
Wayne Rooney inspired Derby to a Cup shock of their own, as they won 1-0 at Crystal Palace.
But Phillip Cocu’s side have generally struggled on the road this term, while Boro have lost only three of 13 at the Riverside.
Jonathan Woodgate’s players were only 4/1 to dump Spurs on the back of an excellent run — four straight wins against Stoke, Huddersfield, West Brom and Preston was impressive form.
They are now defensively sound and increasingly creative in midfield and, while Rooney’s arrival has coincided with Derby’s four-match unbeaten run, MIDDLESBROUGH look excellent value at 11/10.
LEICESTER, Manchester United, Chelsea and Wolves are all favourites at home in the Premier League today and I rate Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes outstanding odds-on value at 6/10, or slightly better, to send Southampton home with their collective tail between their legs.
Rodgers will have learned how to play without the injured Wilfred Ndidi during 90 minutes of the midweek League Cup draw with Aston Villa.
But a more attack-minded Leicester will have too much for a now in-form side which they thumped 9-0 in October.
WOLVES are just 4/9 against Newcastle but still look value, despite recent single-goal defeats at both Watford and Liverpool.
The goalless Cup tie against Manchester United last weekend didn’t seem to register as being hugely important to either side and a likely far hungrier Wolves can register a win which could lift them up to fifth.
Phil Parkinson didn’t get the best of starts after taking over from Jack Ross at SUNDERLAND but things are definitely brighter at the Stadium of Light now and the Black Cats can beat league leaders Wycombe at 5/6.
Sunderland have gone five games unbeaten since losing 1-0 at Gillingham on December 7 and two wins in their last three games have taken the manager’s record of two wins in nine to a healthier four wins from 12.
Wycombe have been a revelation but the wheels have come off lately with just one point from their last four games.
League Two leaders SWINDON looked to have secured another big home win last Saturday only for Bradford to score a minute from time and snatch a draw.
Top scorer Eoin Doyle has since returned to Bradford after his loan spell, but I still fancy the Robins to secure a win in their top-of-the-table clash with third-placed Crewe.
Richie Wellens’ men are 8-2-3 at home this season and actually added to their lead at the top last week with second-placed Exeter in FA Cup action.
Crewe arrive at the County Ground after losing at home to Barnsley in the Cup.
While they had been scoring plenty in the league before that, Swindon can make class count and strengthen their title claims with a win at a general 7/5.
Some flaky Scottish results put me off a bit last weekend, but DUNDEE UNITED (Evs), RAITH (3/4) and COVE RANGERS (4/9) could combine for a three aways treble at around 4/1.
IT’S five homes this week, with Middlesbrough 11/10, Leicester 6/10, Wolves 4/9, Sunderland 5/6 and Swindon 7/5 combining for a payout of around 20/1 with most firms.
CRYSTAL PALACE have already taken a point from Arsenal at the Emirates this season and they can put last week’s FA Cup defeat to Derby behind them with a lunchtime win at 3/1.
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal
ROY HODGSON rested Wilfried Zaha in the FA Cup defeat at home to Derby County as yet another top-flight also-ran passed up the chance to progress in the only trophy they can win.
However, Hodgson’s regular Premier League attitude means they merit support at a general 3/1.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal didn’t really impress in the Cup win over Leeds on Monday a fully-focused Palace look the lunchtime value here.
Tottenham vs Liverpool
I TIPPED Spurs to lose at Middlesbrough last week and I’m against Jose Mourinho’s side again.
Liverpool arrive in London with their top players back off a break after the club’s kids beat Everton in the FA Cup and they’ve won three Premier League games to nil since becoming World Club champions.
With no Harry Kane for the hosts, Liverpool are my idea of a tea-time treat at a tasty 7/10.
Bournemouth vs Watford
WITH no cannon-fodder for Celtic or Rangers this weekend, Villa are the biggest price on the coupon — but they don’t look great value to win, even at a general 14/1.
The title has gone for City but their attitude in the cups has been spot on and Kevin De Bruyne and Co are chasing a fifth straight win.
This could be a dress rehearsal for the Carabao Cup final — City are 2/11 to put down a Wembley marker here.
Aston Villa vs Manchester City
I’M with Nigel Pearson’s Watford to come away with a vital victory at 17/10 in this massive relegation six-pointer.
Bournemouth put four goals past Championship stragglers Luton in the Cup last weekend but they’re on a poor run in the league.
Watford are vastly-improved under new boss Pearson and their second-half collapse at home to Tranmere in the Cup has only inflated their price.