The Daily Star’s Chief Football writer, Danny Fullbrook, gives his verdict on this weekend’s televised FA Cup Quarter final matches including Man Utd v Arsenal.
Manchester United v Arsenal: Live On ITV1: 17:15 Saturday
For both teams it is hardly the priority given the Gunners interest in trying to snatch the title from United’s grasp, and of course Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have the Premier League and still the Champions League to aim for. But results in the last seven days have dictated this quarter-final is a game both will want to win. At the end of Feb Arsene Wenger’s team were involved in four competitions, now it is only two after losing to Barcelona, while United have just lost to Liverpool and Chelsea so will not want to compete a hat-trick.
On this basis it will be a feisty game with the only caution perhaps coming from United.
Neither side wants another fixture at this stage of the season, but I have this written down as a draw, however frustrating that might be.
Arsenal to take an early and unlikely lead (8/5 bet365) with United to grab the equaliser in the second half in a 1-1 draw. Bet365 also offer 13/5 for the draw, and its 16/1 for Arsenalto lead at half time and the match to end all square at Sportingbet. The correct scoreline is 6/1 at Coral
Birmingham City v Bolton Wanderers: Live On ESPN 12:45 Saturday
The other game on Saturday is between Birmingham (2/1 ) and Bolton (13/8 Stan James) which is a battle of the Scottish bosses. But it is Alex Mcleish who is the most successful at the moment having already won the Carling Cup this season.
Just above the relegation zone, City love the cups this season, and despite the odds suggesting this should be a Bolton win, I just fancy Birmingham to reach their second semi-final of the season with Zigic at 13/2 with totesport to score the first goal of the game.
Manchester City v Reading: Live On EPSN: 16:00 Sunday
On Sunday the big game probably is Man City v Reading given that the latter are the only non top flight team left. Reading (8/1 Betfred) have done well to reach the quarter-finals,. But this is where the fairytale stops and a comfortable home win is on the cards at a best price 2/5 at
It was a crushing blow for Roberto Mancini’s team to lose 2-0 to Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League so the Italian will want a reaction and that could come through a 3-0 home win which is 10/1 at Unibet
Stoke City v West Ham United: Live On Sky Sports 1: 14:00 Sunday
Stoke (5/4 William Hill) must hate the sight of West Ham after their defeat at Upton Park, but they are a different prospect at the Britannia Stadium where they swarm all over teams.
For either side reaching the semis would be a major triumph, but relegation is such a massive shadow, especially for the Hammers. Somehow Avram Grant’s side have found a brilliant run of form, and even being away from home, I think they will outscore their opponents and 11/4 (Blue Square) for a straight win is good odds the way they have been going.
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