Oxford United will be looking to pull off a memorable Emirates FA Cup shock as they host high-flying Championship outfit Newcastle United in the Fourth Round on Saturday.
And despite being priced up as 7/2 outsiders, there’s plenty of reason to believe the underdogs can and will knock their illustrious visitors out of the competition. Here’s why…
Nothing Compares to U’s (of late)
Michael Appleton’s men are enjoying quite the run right now, having lost just once in their last 15 games, winning nine of those. They’re banging in the goals at present too, netting four goals against both Scunthorpe United and Rochdale during the past fortnight.
Appleton & co. have previous
The Oxford boss has enjoyed real success since taking the role in July 2014, leading the Thames Valley outfit to promotion from League Two in 2015-16.
But it’s in the Emirates FA Cup where he – and the Yellows – have enjoyed arguably their most memorable days, knocking out Premier League Swansea City last season, and winning away at Championship Rotherham United in the Third Round this term.
Loanee Toni could provide Hammer blow
Perhaps no bit of business in this January transfer window will prove quite so savvy as Oxford’s loan deal for West Ham United prodigy Toni Martinez, who’s netted 10 times in 11 games in Premier League 2 this season.
Having netted twice against Coventry City in the EFL Trophy, there’s no doubt the lightning-quick 19-year-old can also hack it in senior football – and Newcastle’s defence could well find his flair, finishing and injection of pace too hot to handle.
Geordies’ galling cup record
They may have a proud history in this competition, having lifted the FA Cup six times, but in recent years, Newcastle have really struggled in this tournament.
While it’s hard to find a root cause for their cup malaise, they’ve won just one tie in this competition in the last five years – and haven’t made it past the Fourth Round since 2006.
Kassam atmosphere can swing the tie
If this does end up being a close-run thing, then the Yellows’ fantastic support could be the difference in helping seal the deal in the hosts’ favour.
Over 11,042 turned out for October’s derby against Swindon Town here, a game the U’s won 2-0. And their next-largest home crowd this season witnessed a 4-1 demolition of Coventry City.
Having lifted the roof off in the 3-2 victory over the Swans last season in front of a packed house of 11,763, you can expect another bumper crowd to boost Oxford’s performance – and Emirates FA Cup dreams – on Saturday.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing