FA Cup Preview

Chelsea v Birmingham – Saturday 12.30 Though these two may be in different leagues, the form of the respective sides means that Birmingham actually stand a chance here. Chelsea are going to miss Ashley Cole here, Bosingwa may step in again but last time he played there Chelsea were a bit of a mess at the back and gave away several chances. Of course Birmingham aren’t Manchester United but this isn’t the league either and that’s where Chelseas concentration is right now, that and the Champions League. Birmingham are a team in good form right now, since their exit from the Europa league they have risen steadily in the table and are an outside bet for promotion right. Manager Chris Hughton won the competition with Tottenham in both 81 & 82 so I’m sure he’d dearly love to see their run continue a while longer yet. The odds for a Birmingham win are currently at 12 with Coral and that’s disappointing for me as I put a bet on yesterday at 11, those are the breaks I guess, I’m not looking to sit on this one throughout the 90 minutes but instead I’ll be looking to trade out on the exchanges after kick off. I don’t expect an easy win for Chelsea here and I half expect Birmingham to put them out but that trade I mentioned earlier is my only bet on this game.   Everton v Blackpool – Saturday 15.00 Everton welcome Blackpool to Goodison Park with the full intention of sending them home with their tail between their legs. Blackpools attractive, open, style of football is a pleasure to watch but they will come up against a well drilled, motivated and happy Everton side that beat Chelsea in their last home match. The one thing that Blackpool have that Everton don’t is a natural goalscorer, perhaps Jelavic will change that but I’ve not seen enough of him yet to properly judge, Kevin Phillips is coming up to 38 years young and in the twilight of his career but he’s still scored an impressive 10 league goals this season and would love to prove he can still score against a Premiership side. I’m not going to back Blackpool here though the romantic in me would love to see them win, Everton are the stronger team and are in good form so it’s hard to bet against them, odds are too short to bet with them though so this is a no bet for me.   Millwall v Bolton – Saturday 15.00 The bookies have got this one very even and you can see why, Millwall haven’t been great this season but Bolton have struggled pretty much all season long, I think Owen Coyle will get them out of trouble but I’m sure they don’t see this match as a priority for them. Millwall on the other hand might look at this as a game they can get something from and go all out to win it, the prize money for qualifying for the quarter finals is a great motivator and I really think they could get there. Odds are reasonable at 2.88 with BlueSquare but this does feel like a bit of a trap so I’m going to back away carefully.   Norwich v Leicester – Saturday 15.00 Norwich have pretty much got Premiership survival wrapped up now so there is no reason to think they can’t progress here, certainly when you take a look at Leicesters form in the league, their gradual slide down the table in the last month or so is not indicative of a side that could give Norwich a bad day at the office. Leicester do have quality up front with players who have Premiership experience and they even have a goalkeeper named Schmeichel though he’s not as good as his Dad was is he? This could be a good game to watch and could be the armchair viewers choice, certainly until the Sunderland – Arsenal game later in the day. I’m expecting a Norwich win and because of that, I’m going to be backing them at 1.95 with William Hill.   Sunderland v Arsenal – Saturday 17.15 This is the game of the day for me, Sunderland may have lost against Arsenal in the league recently but their good run is no accident, manager and club seem well matched and the players are happy once again, in James McClean they have a wide player with pace and a quality final ball, Arsenal also have that in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but they are coming off the back of a heavy defeat to AC Milan in the Champions League and their defensive frailties were once again on display. This should be an entertaining game as Arsenal look to bounce back and Sunderland look to heap the misery on, in recent years Arsenal have dropped out of competitions in record time once the first domino falls, could this be the start of another slide?   I’ll be back tomorrow with previews for the Sunday games, hopefully with a spring in my step and some extra money in my pocket.   What are your predictions?]]>