Weblog: The football punter

Moyes hoping to avoid another Shrews shock

FA Cup third round
BBC1, 2pm Sunday

All the ingredients are in place for a third-round upset in the FA Cup at New Meadow and West Ham boss David Moyes will know only too well the potential for Shrewsbury to produce a giantkilling when his tired West Ham team head to Shropshire.

Moyes's Everton side were turned over by the Shrews in 2003 and Shrewsbury are in a much better place now with the club pushing for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.

The Hammers, who look set to make changes after a gruelling schedule, are mostly concentrated on staying in the Premier League, while Shrewsbury's tails are up, but the best bet could be to back a low-scoring contest rather than anything in the 90-minute market.

West Ham are struggling with injuries and have played twice since Shrewsbury were last in action, although there are doubts as to whether the home side have the attacking quality to make that advantage count.

Shrewsbury have scored just 33 goals in 25 matches despite being second in the table with no player in double figures for the league campaign.

Stefan Payne leads the charts with eight goals, although West Ham have snuffed out the threat of Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez in recent weeks so they won't be overly fearful of the former Dover and Barnsley forward, who isn't certain to get the nod over Carlton Morris anyway.

Winger Shaun Whalley is capable of the odd spectacular strike but Shrewsbury's main strength comes in being difficult to break down defensively and mobile in central midfield with everyone knowing their jobs in Paul Hurst's regular 4-2-3-1 formation.

Jon Nolan is the link man between midfield and attack, Abu Ogogo gets around the pitch excellently and Ben Godfrey usually shields a back four, where Aristote Nsiala defends aggressively. 

Shrewsbury have kept 12 clean sheets in 16 home matches in all competitions this season and Walsall's Amadou Bakayoko is the only opposition player to score at the New Meadow in the last 11 outings.

Shrewsbury were down to ten men at the time so the task facing West Ham is far from simple even though the Premier League side will be superior to the opposition usually faced by the hosts.

The biggest headache for Hurst - despite him not admitting to it in public - will be Manchester United's decision not to allow Town to use outstanding loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Understudy Craig MacGillivray will do well to fill Henderson's gloves, although if he is beaten former Shrewsbury keeper Joe Hart may be able to keep it clean at the other end.

One or both teams not to score

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Match in Focus


Albania v Scotland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Albania have lost three of their last five games
Expert verdict
Since beating Albania 2-0 in September, Scotland have suffered back-to-back defeats including in their Nations League fixture away to a poor Israel side.But they have a gilt-edged opportunity to do so when they renew their rivalry with Albania. The hosts have also failed to win since the Hampden Park encounter and they are without Migjen Basha and Elseid Hysaj who are both banned for this fixture after picking up two yellow cards.