The Daily Star’s Chief Football writer, Danny Fullbrook, gives his verdict on the five TV FA Cup fixtures this weekend, starting at St Andrews.
Here we go then with what many call the greatest weekend of the football season – the third round of the FA Cup.
Birmingham v Wolverhampton, Sat 7th Jan, 12.30, ESPN
There could be giant-killing galore and the TV companies are desperate for it and in Birmingham v Wolves they might have struck gold just like the Wanderers shirt.
The two play on Saturday lunchtime on ESPN and I fancy a home win, 7/5 with Coral, which will kick off the weekend in style.
Wolves are again in another relegation battle, and although I am not sure at the moment, Mick McCarthy does have a history of squad rotation for games like this. He will use his squad while I think Birmingham boss Chris hughton will go for the jugular and play as strong a side as possible.
They have been in good form this season in the Championship and with their passionate crowd behind them in their only derby match of the season they might just have too much and could win either 1-0 (8/1, Ladbrokes) or 2-1 (Blue Square).
Bristol Rovers v Aston Villa, Sat 7th Jan, 17.30, ESPN
Bristol Rovers play Aston Villa later in the day but Rovers are in turmoil having sacked their manager Paul Buckle earlier in the week.
I just can’t see how they will be in the right frame of mind and the fact they are in football League Two will be too much of a gap for them to overturn Villa. Very often these teams get a goal so I fancy a 3-1 away win for the Villa, which comes in at 11/1 with William Hill. Both teams to score is 3/4 with Stan James.
Man City v Man United, Sun 8th Jan, 13.00, ITV1
Then armchair fans can settle down for the stand out game of the weekend in terms of headlines – Man City v Man Utd.
It is just about the last opponents that Sir Alex Ferguson would want to face at the moment after losing two games on the bounce (a third loss is 11/10 at Paddy Power). It means both managers have to think seriously about the strength of teams that they put out for this game so I think both will be very mixed and City will be missing the Toure brothers anyway.
But City’s reserves are stronger than United’s and it is for that reason alone that I go for a home win (11/10, Paddy Power) with Aguero scoring first, 11/2 courtesy of Betfred, in a 2-0 home win (10/1, Coral) which will shatter Fergie’s team.
Peterborough v Sunderland, Sun 8th Jan, 15.30, ITV1
Later on Sunday afternoon it is Fergie junior who takes centre stage at London Road with Peterborough when they take on Sunderland.
Darren Ferguson’s team are a good side and I think that Martin O’Neill will rest a few players and therefore their could be an upset – a home win is big at 3/1 (bet365).
Arsenal v Leeds, Mon 9th Jan, 19.45, ESPN
Finally the FA Cup stretches to Monday night when Leeds will play Arsenal for the second time in two years.
Again this all rests on what type of team Arsene Wenger puts out. A lot of his former reserves are now in the first team so if he makes changes his side will not be as strong as in the past.
But watching Thierry Henry return to the club will be amazing and worth the entry ticket alone.
Leeds could quite easily get a draw from this game, a sizey 5/1 (Boylesports), but that is the most they could hope for and a 0-0 (22/1, ) or 1-1 (11/1, Ladbrokes) is the most likely, but maybe the script is written for Henry and you could back him to score in a 2-1 Arsenal home win which is my favourite result. The correct score is 9/1 with Blue Square while Totesport make Henry 9/2 to open the scoring.