Will Rhodes get Swansea striker audition in Blackburn FA Cup clash?
Strikers are a somewhat dominant theme of the FA Cup fourth round match-up between Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City, with the hosts facing a fight to keep hold of theirs and the visitors possessing a Wilfried Bony-sized hole in their attack.
Coral make Garry Monk’s Premier League Swans 11/8 favourites to win the tie in 90 minutes, although when these two last met at Ewood Park it was home side Rovers that romped to a 4-2 victory. Blackburn are 2/1 chances to beat the top flight team, with a draw (and thus a replay) priced at 9/4.
With Rudy Gestede in talks with Crystal Palace over a move, Gary Bowyer has also been hit with apparent interest from Swansea in the other half of his dynamic Rovers front duo Jordan Rhodes. The Scotland striker was notably left as an unused substitute in the last round against Charlton Athletic, but odds of 6/4 say Rhodes will score against his prospective employers anytime.
Bowyer was bold enough to pick Rhodes against Manchester City in last year’s competition (albeit as a late substitute), even though he was linked with a move away then. Chris Brown and Luke Varney were involved in the previous round, however, and are rated equal 11/4 chances to score against a Swans backline that shipped five to Chelsea.
Monk has moved to address that by capturing full back Kyle Naughton from Spurs for £5m, though this is somewhat eyebrow raising as it suggests Neil Taylor could be moving on. Moreover, Naughton failed to make much of an impact at Tottenham, so he could be in line for a difficult debut against Rovers wingers Craig Conway (6/1 in the anytime market) and Ben Marshall (4/1).
Defender Matt Kilgallon offers a set piece threat for Blackburn, but is a long shot at 16/1 to grab a goal here.
Happily, though, Bony’s absence may not be felt too much by Swansea here, because Nathan Dyer and Gylfi Sigurdsson have scored against this opposition before. The Iceland international is another that his switched from Spurs to south Wales, and is in his second stint at the Liberty Stadium.
The weight of expectation falls on Sigurdsson to produce more goals, to go with guile, now Bony has gone, and he is a 2/1 anytime scorer chance. Diminutive winger Dyer, meanwhile, is a tasty 10/3 chance after captaining Swansea and finding the net in a 6-2 romp at Tranmere Rovers in the last round.
Bafetimbi Gomis will be a handful for Grant Hanley and company in the Blackburn defence. Bony no longer stands in the French target man’s way to a Swans first-team spot, so he should be looking to replicate or better the brace he managed against Tranmere. To score two goals or more, Gomis is a 7/1 shot.
Expect an open cup clash here, and total goals being over 3.5 comes in at 5/2, but Swansea should prove too strong for Rovers and a 3-1 win is an outside 20/1 shout.