At St Andrews on Saturday, Birmingham and Wolves lock horns in a West Midlands derby, which is 23/10 via Skybet to finish all square but the Blues neighbours Aston Villa, in Saturday’s teatime kick-off, should fare a touch better; they’re 8/13 with Boylesports to have too much for Bristol Rovers.
Where the big-hitters are concerned, Liverpool are 1/8 with Ladbrokes to see off Oldham, Betfred price Tottenham at 1/10 ahead of their game against Cheltenham, Blue Square’s 1/5 favourites Chelsea should have little trouble against Portsmouth and Ladbrokes quote Arsenal at 1/4 to beat Leeds on Monday. The quartet combine in an accumulator at 4/5 courtesy of .
Meanwhile, punters seeking potential shocks could do worse than consider Skybet’s 8/5 for League Two high-flyers Crawley to dump out Championship Bristol City, non-league Fleetwood are an alluring 7/2 () to down Blackpool in a spicy derby clash, Boylesports chalk Macclesfield up at 4/1 to stun top flight strugglers Bolton and Barnsley catch the eye at 2/1 (Paddy Power) ahead of Swansea’s visit to Oakwell.
In the outright betting, it looks to be between the top six and from that group Liverpool, at 8/1 via Stan James, have the fewest other distractions.
The two-way Manchester battle for the Premier League title looks set to go right to the wire but it won’t be possible for the pair to also be fighting it out for the FA Cup come May as City and United have been pitched against each other at the third round stage.
Roberto Mancini’s men, who were drawn first and subsequently enjoy home advantage, are Boylesports’ 13/10 favourites to progress at the first attempt while Manchester United are 5/2 via Skybet to get one over on their ‘noisy neighbours’ and bet365 post what is sure to a be a popular 23/10 against the tie requiring an Old Trafford replay.
Partybets price a 1-1 stalemate at 11/2, however, United’s injury problems, particularly at the back, could prove crucial in the mouth watering Eastlands showdown and it’s easy to see City edging a thriller.
They’re 3/1 courtesy of Blue Square to triumph by a solitary goal and 8/1 (Stan James) to finish on the right side of a 2-1 scoreline but arguably the best bet is William Hill’s 12/5 for Mancini’s charges to prevail in a match that produces three or more goals.
Mario Balotelli meanwhile, was on target twice in City’s incredible 6-1 triumph over their rivals earlier in the campaign and the Italian, enjoying a fine season, looks the most appealing first scorer flutter at 5/1 with Betfred, although as that particular market is wide open, the controversial striker is a slightly safer bet at 15/8 (Paddy Power) to notch at any stage.
Also entertaining a television audience on Sunday, albeit probably a somewhat smaller one, is Peterborough’s home tie against Sunderland. Bet365 make Posh 3/1 to cause an upset but the Black Cats have been more resilient under Martin O’Neill and they deserve to be installed as 21/20 favourites by Blue Square.