It’s FA Cup fifth round weekend this season with several teams desperate for silverware.
Chelsea’s Andre Villas-Boas’ job could depend on winning a cup this season and his side are 3/10 to beat improving Birmingham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
January is proving to be a massive month for Liverpool. They’ve already completed a two-legged semi-final in the Carling Cup against Manchester City and now face the Blues’ third-round conquerors, arch-rivals Manchester United, in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
It’s FA Cup fourth round weekend and the main match features two of football’s oldest rivals as Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield on Saturday lunchtime. The home side are unbeaten this season in the Premier League but have drawn seven of their eleven games. United seem capable of grinding out results and are 7/4 to make the fifth round. A draw at 11/5 might be the best call.
Considering they haven’t been in the same division for several years, Arsenal and Leeds United have seen a fair bit of each other recently. The Gunners needed a last-minute Cesc Fabregas penalty to earn a replay against their Championship opponents at the same stage of the FA Cup a year ago after Robert Snodgrass had threatened to shoot the Yorkshire side to a famous win.
Back-to-back league defeats wouldn’t constitute a crisis at most ordinary clubs. But Manchester United are no ordinary club and the alarm bells are definitely ringing at Old Trafford after conceding six goals in recent games against Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.
While the FA Cup may have lost some of its magic over recent years, the third round weekend remains one of the most romantic sets of fixtures in the football calendar.
The ties kick off on Friday night as Liverpool welcome Oldham and the Latics are 20/1 to register a shock win at Anfield.
The Premier League takes a break this weekend as eight nations fight for four berths at next season’s Euro 2012 Championships.
Ireland are 13/10 to win in Estonia on Friday evening, although the value there lies with a talented home side at 11/5.
It’s the battle of two City’s at Wembley this year with the FA Cup either going to a team that’s waited 42 years for a win or a team that has never won the famous trophy before. Big spending Manchester City take on surprise finalists Stoke City in the Wembley showpiece and, for the neutral, seeing an unfamiliar name on the trophy in 2011 will be a breath of fresh air.
Having secured their Champions League spot for next season, Manchester City are the 5/6 favourites to win their first FA Cup since 1969 at Wembley on Saturday.
The balance of power between the two Manchester sides has firmly been in United’s favour for a couple of decades now, although that might all be about to change. Big spending City look set to challenge United’s dominance over the next few years and can make a great statement of intent by beating their fierce rivals in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Arsenal (3/1) spurned a fantastic opportunity a couple of weeks ago to end the club’s six-year trophy drought and this season’s FA Cup now looks their best opportunity to keep alive their silverware ambitions. In normal circumstances, a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United (5/6) is a mountain too high for Arsene Wenger’s side but with his opposite number keen to freshen up his team in the FA Cup with new talent, Wenger has been gifted a perfect opportunity to play his full-strength side and easily account for the current Premier League leaders.
After struggling to find the back of the net for the majority of the season, Everton are suddenly finding goals easier to come by. David Moyes’ team have scored 11 times in their last four games, though five of those were at Championship relegation candidates Scunthorpe United in the last round of the FA Cup and it’s unlikely they’ll find Chelsea as accommodating at Goodison Park this weekend.