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by Ben, last updated 2008-02-14 18:52:32

 FA Cup Betting - Man Utd & Arsenal Set for Another Classic (Feb 16-18)


This weekend than main English soccer betting action is in the FA Cup, where the field has been whittled down to just sixteen teams. It is at this stage that pressure really starts to come into play as the remaining teams realise they are just three games from a Wembley FA Cup final. The Big Four are all still in the hat, but we will definitely loose Man Utd or Arsenal, as they face each other at Old Trafford, while Huddersfield and Bristol Rovers fly the flag for the lower divisions. Whatever the outcome of the fifth round fixtures, you will always get 60% better FA Cup betting odds at PinnacleSports.com.


Arsenal & Man Utd Set For Another FA Cup Classic

When Arsenal and Man Utd where drawn together for the fifth round of 2008 FA Cup, pundits immediately anticipated a classic encounter. Statistics show that these two teams are the most successful in the competition’s 136 year history, between them winning the FA Cup 21 times and appearing in 35 finals. They have met each other 11 times, winning five times each, though their most recent was in the final of 2005, which was an anti-climactic goalless draw which the Gunners won on penalties. Most meetings have however been hugely memorable games, none more-so than the 1999 semi-final.

That game at Villa Park featured a superb Beckham free-kick, a Schmeichel penalty save from Bergkamp, and one of the greatest FA Cup goals ever, scored by Ryan Giggs. Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only survivors of that fixture likely to play on Saturday when the Red Devils will look to bounce back from the crushing disappointment of a Derby defeat to Man City last Sunday in front of a packed and expectant home crowd. United blamed that poor show on the effect of friendly internationals, so with a week to prepare for this game, there can be no excuses. Arsenal will be boosted by their win over Blackburn, which took them five points clear of United, while Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue return from the African Cup of Nations. Both managers will however, have an eye on the midweek Champions League commitments which will impact their selections. With home advantage PinnacleSports.com price Man Utd favourites 1.813 (0/scratch & -0.5)* with Arsenal 2.130 (0/scratch & +0.5)* - a market priced to just 102%.


Liverpool & Chelsea Handed Comfortable Home Draws

Both Liverpool and Chelsea are expected to come through Fifth round FA Cup ties against lower division opposition this weekend. The Reds entertain Barnsley on Saturday, which on paper is a more testing fixture than Chelsea’s game at home to Division One Huddersfield. The Tykes are mid-table just one division below Liverpool, but there is a gulf of class between the sides. Barnsley have no pedigree for Cup upsets, have overcome only mediocre FA Cup opponents en route and are without a first-team goalkeeper. Their away league form is atrocious, failing to win in twelve straight fixtures on the road, drawing a blank in eight of those. Liverpool were given an early scare by minnows in the last round, so expect a more professional performance. PinnacleSports.com price Liverpool 1.952 (-2)* with Barnsley 1.971 (+2)*.

Chelsea’s home tie with Huddersfield is a repeat of their 2005 FA Cup encounter. At that time riding high under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea were expected to sweep the Terriers aside, but the game was 1-1 until up until the 82nd minute, when Eidur Gudjohnsen settled it. That result is symptomatic of Chelsea’s cup performances at home to lower class teams, where the anticipated cricket scores rarely materialise; nevertheless Chelsea usually come out on top. Avram Grant can welcome back Drogba, Kalou, Essien and Obi Mikel from Ghana, but in company with Rafa Benitez, will be thinking ahead to next week Champions League fixtures when making his team selections. PinnacleSports.com make Chelsea 2.10 (-2 & -2.5)* with Huddersfield 1.833 (+2 & +2.5)*.


*All odds subject to change


Best FA Cup Odds at PinnacleSports.com!




 Strawberry Fields for Heather

 by Gerry McDonnell

I absolutely despise Valentines Day. Conformity demands that I waste good money on a pointless gift and a meaningless card, even though the wife has spent the last 364 days of the year criticising me for being lazy. I'd happily dump her; but it's a lot of effort to find someone new.

Paul McCartney has taken the brave step of officially ending his ill-fated relationship. For me, he's definitely made the correct decision, even if it does cost him an arm and a leg.

While Paul and I understand that love is a complete fallacy, there are still a minority who believe in the romance of the FA Cup. The reality is that the minnows just make up the numbers until the trophy is lifted by one of the big 4, or Liverpool.

Rafa Benitez has pointed the finger at the Yanks for their relegation from the elite. You can blame the Americans for many things: Middle East instability, nuclear war, terrorism, global warming, 9/11 and fat children, but they didn't rest Torres against Birmingham. I hope Rafa takes the FA Cup seriously, as I'm on the Reds at 1/5 against Barnsley.

The liveliest atmosphere of the 5th Round will probably be at Coventry, where West Brom will be arriving with 8,000 screaming Yam Yams. I'll definitely be going out of my way to avoid Coventry this weekend; although the words 'this' and 'weekend' are pretty much superfluous. The Baggies look a fair shout at 7/5 to leave victorious.

David James continues to surprise me. There were times when I thought he would prove a major liability; those times were 1990 - 1996 and 1998 - 2007. With Calamity in this kind of form, you have to believe that Preston have a tougher job on their hands than Helen Chamberlain's makeup artist. I'll be made up when Pompey advance at 10/11.

It will be somewhat ironic if Middlesbrough put an end to Bryan Robson's managerial career. It was at the Boro where Robbo first made his name; I think it was 'Jim Beam'. Robson may well be interested in the odds for a Middlesbrough win over Sheffield United; 7/5 is a little short.

Cardiff have come a long way since the Sam Hammam era, when new signings were contractually obligated to enjoy a physical liaison with a sheep. That controversial clause was widely criticised at the time, but it did lead to Franck Ribery asking for a trial. Things are a lot more stable at Ninian Park today; they have Peter Ridsdale in the boardroom. The chairman can buy another goldfish when the Bluebirds slaughter the Wolves at 11/8.

Southampton will still be without a manger for their trip to Bristol Rovers. The Saints did try to rehire Glenn Hoddle, but he wanted to discuss his options with a likeminded friend, so he's waiting for Paul McCartney's divorce proceedings to end. I'll be on Bristol Rovers at 2/1 to see off the Saints; although I'll stay away from the handicap.

After finding the net in his last nine matches, Emmanuel Adebayor will be hoping to reach a perfect 10 against Manchester United. I'm not normally one to boast, but I once dated a German girl who was very close to being a '10'. She was extremely arrogant though: she knew she was a '9', and she wouldn't shut up about it while making love. I'm screaming about the 9/4 for a draw between Manchester United and Arsenal.

Like Helga, Avram Grant always appears deeply unhappy. As an Israeli, Grant has seen some distressing sights through the years, although nothing could prepare him for the picture of the hairdresser who gave Ashley Cole a little trim. I'll throw up if Chelsea fail to beat Huddersfield at 1/10.

For Cheryl Cole and Heather Mills, Valentines Day will be a depressing affair. My wife will be genuinely excited though, as she loves to eat a mountain of chocolate on this special occasion - it's a weekday. Cardiff, Chelsea, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth form a 12/1 accer that will allow me to purchase an extra large bar of Toblerone.





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