Don't dismiss Gunners

Footballer-turned bookie rep Dale Tempest talks team news, tiredness and top tips in his latest column.

Last Updated: 14/02/14 at 16:05 Post Comment

The FA Cup is Arsene Wenger's best chance of silverware

The FA Cup is Arsene Wenger's best chance of silverware

Unlike most public relations directors, Sky Bet's Dale Tempest is a former professional footballer.

Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester were among his clubs so he knows exactly how the game is played and now he's got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.

His regular Friday column explores the mindset of players and bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action. Here's his take on this weekend's FA Cup fifth-round ties.

There are two huge games in the FA Cup this weekend - Arsenal v Liverpool and Manchester City v Chelsea.

Team news will be so big when you consider what's coming up for all the teams. All four have Premier League aspirations while for all bar Liverpool the Champions League is looming large.

Jose Mourinho was right when he said Liverpool have been under-estimated in the title race as they have no European football to worry about.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the action:

Arsenal to beat Liverpool at 6/4
Either side not to score in Arsenal v Liverpool at 6/4

Everyone is talking about last week's 5-1 win for Liverpool at Anfield which was incredible but I'm not looking at that. I'm looking at Arsenal having had 10 clean sheets in their last 11 at home. They are also the only side to have stopped Suarez and Sturridge from scoring when they've played together. Arsenal have been so strong and confident at home and Liverpool's away form has been poor all season. The victory at Fulham on Wednesday was only their third away win in their last 11 games. They were poor against Fulham but got away with it and drew before that at West Brom. Yes, they've been blitzing teams at home but they've not replicated this away. For Arsenal, this is their most likely chance of silverware. Arsene Wenger wouldn't admit it but the betting will tell you it is (they are 9/2 for the trophy). Also remember that either City or Chelsea won't be in the quarter-final draw. They will refocus and many players have got a point to prove after last week. In the dressing room the likes of Per Mertesacker will have been making sure they are in the right shape. They also have a good record of bouncing back after their massive upsets. All in all, Arsenal at 6/4 seems a big price to me. The other price I like the look of is the 6/4 about either team not scoring - it's 1/2 that both teams score.

Manchester City v Chelsea

I'm not having a bet at this stage on the City v Chelsea game - I want to wait for the team news and not only for that Champions League reason. However, if things fall into place then 21/10 about Chelsea looks the way to go. Mourinho won the tactical battle when these two met less than two weeks ago but I can't believe Manuel Pellegrini will blindly go in with the same plan. What interests me is if City stick with the 4-4-2 plan or whether Pellegrini's going to change and go one up front perhaps with David Silva acting as a second striker. That's the fascinating thing from a football purist's perspective. It's definitely 1-0 to Mourinho against Pellegrini at the moment. Chelsea won the last game 1-0 but it could have been 4-0. They were clearly the better team and City only had a couple of early chances. City have also followed that by drawing 0-0 at Norwich. A big problem in the last game was the lack of Fernandinho in midfield for City, and he looks certain to miss out again here. Gary Neville called it on Sky Sports in that first match. As soon as he heard the Brazilian wasn't playing he described it as a 50-50 match. Well, it's not a 50-50 game with the bookies. If Chelsea field their full side I'd definitely rather be on them at the prices available. City had a boost in midweek when their game was called off while Chelsea had to scrap it out with West Brom. People often talk about how important a rest is these days. In my day it was commonplace to play loads of games; the difference today is that the game is so much more high tempo. My view is that when you are winning players don't get tired and when you are losing you do.

Nottingham Forest to beat Sheffield United at 6/5

Forest look good here. They've suffered just two defeats away all season in the Championship which is a fine record and is so typical of Billy Davies and his ability to get his teams to grind out results. They are coming off a great away win at Preston in the last round and a midweek success over Huddersfield. It's only up the road for their fans so they will take a whole end at Bramall Lane this weekend and the 6/5 about them claiming the win looks a cracking bet to me.

Cardiff to beat Wigan at 23/20

Cardiff at home to Wigan are also not a bad price for a team who could do with lifting the mood. Yes, the Premier League has to be the focus for them but a good cup win gets people happy and focused and also gets the fans back on side and that's what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs right now. Wigan (5/2) may be last year's winners but in reality it's a very different side to the one that won the Cup last year.

Hull to beat Brighton at 11/5

My final bet is on Hull - they are too big to win at Brighton at 11/5. In the last two rounds they've been priced up as if Steve Bruce would field a reserve side. He did make changes but the difference now is they've added a few players in the transfer window and the squad looks that much stronger. Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long (both cup-tied) were brought and that means people like Yannick Sagbo really need to come in to perform and show they should be playing instead. Brighton at 5/4 looks an over-reaction from the bookies to me. Hull dealt with Middlesbrough and Southend efficiently in the previous rounds. Remember everything is about the price and for me Brighton are way too short. It's also worth noting that five of Brighton's last six games have resulted in under 2.5 goals - that may be another way of livening up this Monday night game.


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