It’s fair to say the FA Cup draw hasn’t exactly been kind to Manchester United this season, pitching them against their two biggest rivals, away from home, in consecutive rounds. Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops passed the first test, albeit in controversial circumstances, seeing off Manchester City 3-2 but they’re the slightest of outsiders at 19/10 with bet365, as they prepare to lock horns with Liverpool at Anfield.
Stan James price the hosts at 17/10 meaning there’s little between the two in the markets and that could be reflected on the field, where the two teams are 23/10 courtesy of BetVictor to be inseparable. Blue Square rate the contest at 11/2 to finish one-each and in a clash that looks destined to be tight, Betfred chalk 4/1 against scores being level at the end of each half. In fact, a goalless first period, available with Partybets at 17/10, isn’t out of the question and that would be good news for punters speculating on the game’s first goal arriving after the 31st minute (23/20, William Hill).
Wayne Rooney tempts at 9/2 via BetVictor, to fire that opener having done likewise at the Etihad Stadium in the third round while the United front man is 11/8 (Boylesports) to strike at any time and Paddy Power offer 4/5 for the match to produce fewer than three goals.
At the Emirates Stadium on Sunday it’s another all-Premiership encounter as Arsenal entertain Aston Villa and it’s the Gunners that are expected to prevail, bet365 installing them as 4/7 favourites. Also fancied to progress at the first attempt on Sunday meanwhile, are Sunderland, who are 8/11 courtesy of Blue Square to see off Championship Middlesbrough.
In Saturday’s evening kick-off at the AMEX Stadium, Skybet quote Brighton at 5/2 to force a replay against Newcastle and another tie that may need a second meeting to decide it is the all-League One affair between Stevenage and Notts County; priced by BetVictor at 12/5 to be inconclusive.
Elsewhere, QPR look overpriced at 9/2 (Paddy Power) ahead of the derby showdown with boss Mark Hughes’ former club Chelsea at Loftus Road, Partybets’ 15/8 chalked against Swansea stands out as Brendan Rodgers’ charges travel to Bolton, the same firm make Millwall 15/8 to overcome stuttering Southampton and Stan James rate West Brom at 10/11 to edge out Norwich.
Potential shocks meanwhile, look a touch thin on the ground. The two lowest ranked teams left in the competition, League Two pair Crawley (7/2, Ladbrokes) and Swindon (6/1, William Hill) have both been drawn away at solid Championship pair Hull and Leicester so will find the going tough and Sheffield Wednesday are hard to recommend at Bloomfield Road, against William Hill’s 4/5 chances Blackpool.
Derby however, might be worth backing ‘Draw No Bet’ at 6/4 via Skybet as they host Stoke and a mini-upset, a 7/4 shot at Paddy Power, isn’t out of the question at Bramall Lane, where League One high-flyers Sheffield United entertain Birmingham.