Ibet: Looming Champions League Games Could Influence FA Cup Ties
Sunderland V Southampton, kick off Sat 12.45pm, BT Sport 1
Back the draw at 12/5
There are a couple of mouthwatering FA Cup clashes over the weekend, both with interesting sub-plots. On Saturday, Manchester City (best price 100/30 with Coral to lift the trophy) get a chance of revenge over Chelsea, who are a general 11/2 shot. Chelsea of course became the first team to beat Pellegrini’s men at the Etihad this season recently. It was a real masterclass from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and the 1-0 final score by no means flattered the West Londoners. Chelsea played as a complete unit in defence, and were deadly on the counter, also hitting the woodwork three times. The Man City manager has only beaten a Mourinho side once in nine attempts and may be suffering something of a complex over it. Or maybe Mourinho is just too good. But the bigger issue is likely to be fixture congestion. Just three days after this game Manchester City (12/1 to win the Champions League) face a potentially season defining last 16 tie against the mighty Barcelona (11/2) – one they have a real chance of winning. It’s very unlikely that Pellegrini will play at full strength as a result.
The FA Cup is worth a tiny fraction of the money involved in the Champions League. Sergio Aguero will definitely be missing and they have failed to score in both games since injury ruled the Argentine marksman out. You can lay the home side at 2.24 with Betfair and given that they will certainly have no confidence issued after their recent performance there, there has to be a fair chance of Chelsea at least taking this back to Stamford Bridge. It may also be worth considering going low on goals. Chelsea have conceded three times in their last 12 matches. You can back under 2.5 goals at around even money. It’s 1.42 with Betfair that there will be under 3.5 goals. The game is live on ITV, kicking off at 5.15pm.
The Sunday 4pm kick off sees Arsenal (5/1 for FA Cup glory with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes) host Liverpool (15/2 with Stan James) in what could be a classic. Arsenal simply didn’t turn up at Anfield recently and were steamrollered. Their midweek game against Manchester United was one of the most disappointing games I’ve seen in the Premier League in a long time, with United manager Moyes playing what looked like a seven-man defence. It’s very hard to see Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers being so negative with the attacking talent he has it his disposal. Liverpool are riding a wave of confidence and should have a go at Arsenal, leading to an open game with chances at both ends. Unlike Arsene Wenger, Rodgers hasn’t got the distractions of European football and he named a very strong side for the FA Cup clash against Bournemouth in the last round – that despite it being only three days before a crucial Merseyside derby – and looks certain to do so again. Arsenal (40/1 for the Champions League) on the other hand have a massive midweek game coming up against Bayern Munich, who are best priced 13/5 with Paddy Power to defend their trophy. That might suggest value in getting with the away side at around 2/1. But Arsenal have been so strong at home this season that I would much prefer to be betting on over 2.5 goals at 7/10 with Ladbrokes.
The draw looks a big runner in the match between Sunderland and Southampton. Although they are still in the relegation zone, Sunderland (28/1 in the FA Cup betting) have been playing well and indeed have been defeated only twice in their last nine league games, one of those thanks to a very early red card. Southampton (14/1) have also looked very hard to beat, not losing any of their last eight games, and it’s interesting to note that these two have drawn three of their last four matches including both meetings in the league. EasyOdds.com has the best price about the draw at 12/5 and it looks worth taking.Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers, Champions League, chelsea, FA Cup, Liverpool, Manchester City, mourinho, Pellegrini, sergio aguero, Southampton, Sunderland
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