There’s a sense of déjà vu at the Stadium of Light this weekend as Sunderland once more entertain Arsenal but on this occasion, instead of three points at stake, the victor will secure a place in the FA Cup quarter final.
The Gunners edged last week’s Premier League contest, Thierry Henry’s last minute winner giving them a 2-1 success and Arsene Wenger’s troops are 5/4 with Stan James to emerge triumphant again while another 2-1 away win is available via William Hill at odds of 8/1. Nevertheless, Sunderland came close to earning a point and with Wenger set to rest a few players, Martin O’Neill’s men could turn the tables on the Gunners, despite being Boylesports’ 11/5 outsiders.
A stalemate, priced by Skybet at 12/5, isn’t out of the question of course, especially in light of events on Saturday and indeed the Black Cats catch the eye at 5/4 in Paddy Power’s ‘Draw No Bet’. However, determined to gain revenge, O’Neill’s side might have the edge and they’re 4/1 (bet365) to nick it by a one-goal margin on Wearside, where Ladbrokes quote them at 11/1 to finish on the right side of a 2-1 scoreline this time around.
James McClean opened the scoring in Saturday’s meeting, a feat he’s 10/1 with Skybet to repeat but Fraizer Campbell is considered more of an attacking threat and Coral quote the Sunderland front man at 7/1 to break the deadlock.
After last weekend’s handshake-that-never-was controversy, Liverpool will be keen to get back to concentrating on football matters and they can finally do so on Sunday as they entertain Brighton in the FA Cup fifth round. As the visitors ply their trade in the Championship the Reds, inevitably, are made emphatic favourites by Partybets, at odds of 1/4 and Kenny Dalglsh’s charges tempt in the handicaps at 7/10 (Stan James) when starting a goal in arrears given that they have already beaten the Seagulls in the Carling Cup this term.
FA Cup romantics will be eyeing the ties at the Broadfield Stadium and Broadhall Way, hoping that Crawley and Stevenage respectively, can upset top-flight opposition. However, the former look set to go down at the hands of Stoke, an outcome BetVictor offer at 21/20 while Betfred quote Tottenham at 2/7 to overcome Borough and Ladbrokes chalk Harry Redknapp’s team up at 5/1 to notch twice without reply.
The remaining four ties sees Premier League teams pitched against Championship opponents but only one of those clashes, Bolton’s trip to Millwall, looks likely to throw up a shock. The Trotters have more pressing matters than the FA Cup on their plate, their bid for survival in the league hampered by last week’s home loss to fellow strugglers Wigan and Blue Square rate the Lions at 15/8 to heap more misery on beleaguered boss Owen Coyle, who could make one or two changes.
Chelsea meanwhile, are 3/10 (Paddy Power) to set their poor league form to one side to edge out Birmingham, Boylesports quote Everton at 4/9 to sneak past Blackpool at Goodison Park and it’s 5/6 courtesy of Betfred for a Norwich triumph in the Canaries’ home clash with Leicester.