Our Football expert looks ahead to the weekend’s big FA Cup clashes. We have tips on Arsenal v Hull, Chelsea v Man City & Monday night’s clash between Shrewsbury and beleaguered Man United…
Arsenal v Hull (Saturday 12.45pm)
3rd in the Premier League plays 1st in the Championship in the lunchtime FA Cup clash. Arsenal have not lost an FA Cup match for 3 years and are unsurprisingly heavy favourites to prevail here. But they have been on the drift all week with the expectation that Arsene Wenger will make several changes from the side that beat Leicester 2-1 last weekend. And of course they face Europe’s best team in Barcelona on Tuesday in the 1st leg of the last 16 Champions League.
So we can expect several squad players to make an appearance here, but that still doesn’t put me off backing the Gunners. Arsenal have enough strength in depth to beat Steve Bruce’s best side on any day, plus there is the significant chance that Bruce might rest some of his senior players. Bruce has never been one for prioritsing the FA Cup over league commitments so don’t be surprised if Hull field a weakened team too.
Arsenal should win this and win it comfortably. Take the 11/8 on a home win by more than 1 goal.
Chelsea v Man City (Sunday 4.00pm)
Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday that he will prioritise the Champions League over the FA Cup. The market had already predicted this so Chelsea had dropped from 6/5 to 5/6 over the last week. Guus Hiddink seems to have invigorated Chelsea who clearly were not playing for Jose Mourinho this season. Hiddink is a popular man at Stamford Bridge and the players look like they’re actually trying again (Eden Hazard aside).
So Chelsea are fancied in the betting, but the question as always is where is the value to be found? This is 12th in the league playing host to 4th in the league after all. Even with several first team players likely to be rested we think there is some value in siding with City here. Take City +1 Goal on the Handicap at a slightly ridiculous 21/20.
Shrewsbury v Man United (Monday 7.45pm)
Only 1 team outside the top 2 tiers of English football have made it this far and the reward for League 1 Shrewsbury is a home tie against Manchester United. United’s struggles continued in the week with another inept display in theie 2-1 defeat to Danish champions Midtjylland. Louis Van Gaal now has 14 first team players on the injury list with Wayne Rooney and David De Gea picking up knocks in the week just gone.
Confidence has been obliterated at Old Trafford and Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon will be keen to exploit this and try to get at United right from the kick off. The obvious question is whether Shrewsbury posses the necessary quality to trouble United and the answer is probably not quite enough. The Shrews are languishing in 19th place in the League with a home record that is worse than everyone except bottom placed Colchester.
A best priced 2/5 on a United win does not tempt so take the 23/10 on offer for an away win with both teams scoring.