The Daily Star’s Chief Football writer, Danny Fullbrook, gives his verdict on the five televised FA Cup fixtures this weekend.
Chelsea v Birmingham, Sat 18th Feb, 12.30, ESPN
So it is the big FA Cup weekend and teams can either forget about the league, or lower clubs can try and reach their dream.
That starts in the first TV game when Chelsea take on Birmingham. The Blues are under lots of pressure so they know they have to win this game, and that is exactly what they will do as Coral’s 1/3 favs. Tough hurdle but one they will get over. It will be 2-0 Chelsea, 6/1 with Ladbrokes.
Sunderland v Arsenal, Sat 18th Feb, 17.15, ITV1
After that Sunderland take on Arsenal but this time there is no Thierry Henry to score the winner for the Gunners.
After their 4-0 mauling to AC Milan Arsenal, 13/8 with Stan James, just have to win this game and I think they will manage it 1-0 (8/1, Paddy Power) with a van Persie winner. BetVictor make van Persie 4/1 to score first although Sunderland will give it a go so it could be a late goal – William Hill chalking up a nice 11/2 about the opener coming after the 61st minute.
Crawley v Stoke, Sun 19th Feb, 12.00, ESPN
The romance comes on Sunday from Crawley who take on Stoke, hardly the most glamorous of opposition, and the home side are 11/4 with Betfred to record a shock. Stoke have had a tough game midweek against Valencia. On that basis I think it will be a draw, 5/2 with Coral.
Stevenage v Tottenham, Sun 19th Feb, 14.00, ITV1
There is a cracking game between Stevenage and Spurs. It will be a very tough place for Harry Redknapp’s team to go, Blue Square put a whopping 10/1 on the shock win, but Spurs are playing the best football in the country. I fancy Stevenage to score (evens with Boylesports) but it will be a 2-1 away win, 8/1 at Sportingbet, and a brilliant game.
Liverpool v Brighton, Sun 19th Feb, 16.30, ESPN
Then Brighton go to Liverpool and it’s a shame it is not the other way round and being played at the Amex. Gus Poyet’s team are playing well at the moment and Liverpool are vulnerable at home. On that basis I fancy a 1-1 draw, 10/1 at Skybet, with Steven Gerrard getting the equaliser. Bet365 make Gerrard 11/2 to score last.