The two standout clubs of this English season, Manchester United and Arsenal, have been drawn against each for the quarter finals of this year’s FA Cup. It is a mouth-watering matchup worthy of a final, however both teams head into the match out of form and badly needing a morale boosting win. In quarter final action elsewhere, Birmingham host Bolton and Stoke entertain West Ham in all premier league club affairs, while Manchester City will take on Reading, who are the sole surviving non-premier league club.
Birmingham v Bolton (2345 AEDT)
This is a tough one to call. Birmingham have the home ground advantage, but also a relegation fight to worry about. Bolton sit seventh in the league and have no relegation concerns. David Bentley will likely miss for Birmingham through injury, joining Alexander Hleb, Craig Gardner and Barry Ferguson in the stands. Bolton”s in form striker Daniel Sturridge is cup tied. The only previous meeting this season ended in a 2-2 draw. After much deliberation, I am going to back Birmingham by virtue of a home fixture and their proven ability to adapt to cup tie football – Birmingham won the Carling Cup earlier this season. If you’re quick, you can find nice odds of 3.00 at Betfair. Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins netted the winner in the Carling Cup final a few weeks back and is a player who can nick a goal from anywhere.
Andy’s Bet: Birmingham to win @ 3.00 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Obafemi Martins to score anytime @ 3.10 (Sportsbet)
Manchester United v Arsenal (0415 AEDT)
This is a season-shaper for both clubs. Just two weeks ago Arsenal were talking up their chances of collecting four trophies this campaign. The first of those, the Carling Cup, was stolen away by Birmingham, and earlier this week the gunners were bundled out of the UEFA Champions League in Barcelona. United are still in the European competition with a knockout round of 16 match to come against Marseille. On the domestic front, Manchester United have been dreadful. Their slide began a few weeks ago with a defeat by bottom side Wolves. They also ended up on the wrong side of the ledger in their two most recent outings, league matches against Chelsea and Liverpool. Nemanja Vidic will return from suspension to bolster United’s fragile defense, but Cesc Fabregas will be absent for the gunners after re-injuring his dodgy hamstrings in the Barcelona match. Ironically, I think whoever loses this will be in better shape to win the league title. Without Fabregas I think Arsenal will struggle.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester United to win @ 1.99 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Wayne Rooney to score first @ 5.60 (Centrebet)
Stoke v West Ham (0100 AEDT)
West Ham are a team transformed. The hammers are now solid in midfield, led by Scott Parker, and carry a genuine goal threat. Funnily enough these sides clashed just last week and West Ham ran riot with a 3-0 triumph and 60% of ball possession. Stoke will tighten up this time, but I still think this will be an action packed and dramatic cup-tie. West Ham are in good enough form to earn a replay and I think both teams will get on the scoreboard.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.45 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Over 3.5 goals @ 3.75 (Sportsbett)
Manchester City v Reading (0345 AEDT)
Similar to Arsenal, Manchester City are fast running out of silverware they can win this season. The blue half of Manchester were beaten 2-0 in their Europa League, first leg, round of 16 match at Dynamo Kiev. So, unless they retrieve that deficit, the FA Cup is their only shot at a trophy. They have received a good draw too, their opponents Reading are the only non premier league club remaining in the premier league. Manchester City should not take the royals lightly as the championship club have won three on the spin and are unbeaten in seven. After a tight tussle, City will prevail and their fans will finally enjoy a visit to Wembley.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City to win @ 1.39 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Draw at half time and Manchester City to win at full time @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
Sneaky European Multi
Last weekend was the third ‘Sneaky European Multi’ success this season. Let’s go back to back.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City, Rangers, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Villareal and Lille all to win @ 7.70 (Sportsbet)