Weblog: The football punter

Spurs should show their class at Prenton Park

FA Cup third round
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm

A first trophy at Tottenham still eludes Mauricio Pochettino but his team can start their pursuit of the FA Cup by sweeping aside Tranmere at Prenton Park.

Spurs have won 17 of their last 18 meetings with lower-league opposition in this competition and boast the best record on the road in the Premier League this term.

They have lost only one of their last 13 away fixtures, having held Barcelona to a draw, beaten Arsenal and obliterated Everton, and this trip to Merseyside should prove a softer assignment.

Pochettino will have one eye on Tuesday's crucial League Cup semi-final encounter with Chelsea and despite claiming he will field a strong side, several first-team players could be missing.

Tottenham's second string saw off Premier League opposition in West Ham and Watford before their quarter-final win over the Gunners, though, and they can avoid slipping on the Rovers banana skin.

Tranmere have not won an FA Cup match in their own backyard since 2014 and they required replays to see off non-league Oxford City and Southport after stalemates at home.

Rovers also lost their first-round League Cup game against Walsall 3-1 at home earlier in the season and endured a miserable EFL trophy campaign, losing all three of their group matches.

However, Micky Mellon's men have adjusted to life back in the Football League and are just three points off the playoff spots.

They have tasted defeat only once on home soil in the league this term and, having scored in 12 of their last 13 matches in all competitions, could grab a consolation.

James Norwood has been a revelation for Tranmere this season, netting 16 goals in League Two, and has formed a strong partnership up top with Connor Jennings, who has four goals in this term's FA Cup.

Norwood could even fancy his chances of finishing top scorer in League Two with joint leader Jayden Stockley now plying his trade in the division above.

More than 16,000 fans are expected at Prenton Park for the first meeting between the clubs since the 2001-02 campaign, when they met in both the League and FA Cups.

Spurs were taken to replays by Newport and Rochdale in this competition last season but should comfortably progress to the fourth round.

Tranmere, however, buoyed by a bouncing crowd excited by this season's prospects, can breach a weakened Tottenham rearguard.

Tottenham to win & both teams to score

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Match in Focus

15:00 Sa 25May SKY

Newport Co v Tranmere

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Newport are unbeaten in 12 matches.
Expert verdict
Michael Flynn’s Newport headed into the playoffs as the fourth tier’s form side, securing seventh spot by finishing the season ten games unbeaten. Tranmere will know all too well about County’s disciplined defensive, having failed to score in both league meetings with them and, even with James Norwood leading the line, they look vulnerable.