The FA Cup has a tendency to throw up enthralling encounters at this time of year and one of the picks of the fourth round is undoubtedly Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Elland Road to take on Championship Leeds United.
Once upon a time this fixture was a regular in the Premier League calendar, but in recent years the fortunes of both clubs have veered in dramatically different directions.
While Tottenham, under Andre Villas-Boas, compete for a Champions League place, Leeds sit mid-table in the Championship, dreaming of the heady days of 2001, when they were semi-finalists in Europe’s premier club competition.
At the beginning of the millennium the odds would have been heavily stacked in the favour of Leeds for almost any game they played in front of their passionate fans, but with the talent gap between the two teams these days it is Tottenham who enter the tie as comfortable 31/50 favourites.
Considering their comparative league positions, 4/1 on a home win is a reasonable-looking price in bwin’s 3-way betting market, but 11/4 on a draw is the more likely bet to succeed if Spurs can’t win.
A draw was the result when the two sides went head-to-head in the FA Cup three seasons ago, the match at White Hart Lane ending 2-2 thanks to a last-minute Jermaine Beckford penalty.
Spurs eventually secured their progression with a 3-1 win at Elland Road in the replay, but the result shows what could happen if the Premier League side are not at their best.
However, a recent run of one defeat in their last 13 games in all competitions would suggest that Tottenham are playing to a high standard right now and even Manchester United couldn’t beat them last weekend, as a late Clint Dempsey strike salvaged a 1-1 draw in north London.
Neil Warnock’s Leeds side have not been able to put together such a strong run at any point this season, which has hampered their promotion ambitions.
United have won their previous two games, but that was the first time they had managed back-to-back victories since the end of November.
The puzzle which should be occupying punters’ minds, then, is not whether Spurs will win, but how they will win.
Well, for starters, Tottenham may not have the pleasure of securing a clean sheet, as only two of the last ten encounters between the two sides have seen only one team score and bwin is offering 3/5 on both teams to score in this match.
The most likely time for Spurs to score would seem to be the second half as they have struck nearly three-quarters of their Premier League goals in the second period (29 of 40, to be precise), so 7/5 on them to score more after the break than before it could be a money spinner.
New customers registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Spurs to deliver the majority of their goals in the final 45 minutes would return £48 if successful.
Sticking along those same lines, 3/4 is available on Tottenham to score the first goal after half-time, which also looks a solid option when you consider that they have scored 11 of those 40 league goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Alternatively, you could go down an unconventional route and take 91/100 on the number of goals scored being an odd number, which has been the case in five of the last six games between the teams at Elland Road.
But the preference must be for Spurs to make their dominance count after the interval, much like Chelsea did when they travelled to West Yorkshire in the Capital One Cup by turning a 1-0 half-time deficit into a thumping 5-1 victory.