Bradford v Reading
Rather than seethe about the fact that their exploits have yet to attract the live TV cameras (and financial riches that come with being on t’tele), Bradford’s FA Cup attitude this season has been refreshing. Boss Phil Parkinson is giving the grand old trophy the respect it deserves and underlined this by resting seven players in the week (this despite The Bantams being involved in the League One promotion picture). The hosts scored the most famous FA Cup shock of recent times in January when they came from 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to route Chelsea 4-2. They followed that up by beating Sunderland so you best f**king believe they have a shout here at 13/8. Put simply, there’s not much separating the top of League 1 from the bottom of the Championship. In Jon Stead The Bantams have the competition’s top scorer and he can fire cup specialists Bradford into the last four where TV executives can ignore them no longer.
Betting: Bradford to win at 13/8 (Betfred/Coral)
Aston Villa v West Brom
It’s more than a year since Christian Benteke scored goals in back-to-back matches but miracles do happen people. For proof of this think about the ten plagues of Egypt, Jesus feeding the 5000 or the fact that Peter Crouch is having regular sex. With a woman. ‘The Beast’ has only scored four goals all season but one of those was against this very same opposition a few days ago so the Belgian looks worth a punt to me here to find the old onion bag again.
Betting: Benteke to score anytime at 2/1 (Ladbrokes)
QPR v Tottenham
There’s one Premier League game on Saturday and its a biggie too as QPR look to move out of the bottom three with victory over Spurs. Rangers played well in patches against Arsenal in midweek but lost that one 2-1 and another defeat to north London rivals at Loftus Road could be potentially fatal to their survival chances. Roy Hodgson may not be completely sold on young Harry Kane just yet but what’s not to like about a man whose scored 12 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances. Ladbrokes go 11/10 that he scores in this one. Odds against? I’ll s**t em.
Betting: Kane to score anytime at 11/10 (Ladbrokes)
Liverpool v Blackburn
The Reds are absolutely flying just now and I just cannot make a case for Rovers, even at odds as big as 12/1. They’ve beaten two top tier sides already in Swansea and Stoke but beating Liverpool away ain’t in the same ballpark and even though Brendan Rodgers may rest key players the Reds will still have enough to beat a side who have won just one of their last five matches. This should be a routine stroll for the hosts on Sunday and I will mostly be backing the Scousers on the handicaps.
Betting: Liverpool (-1) to win at 5/6 (Ladbrokes)
Manchester United v Arsenal
As regular readers of this column will know I never, ever preview the live Monday match. Granted I catch a bit of stick about this on the comments pages from time to time but given this is a ‘weekend preview’ I can rest easy at night. That said, given there isn’t that much action this weekend and the fact this game is a potential doozy, I will include Monday’s blockbuster from Old Trafford. You’re welcome. These teams have both won the FA Cup a record 11 times apiece and the winner of this would be in the box seat to claim an unprecedented dozen FA Cup wins. ManYoo have been hard to fathom in recent weeks. There is no consistency there and most of their star names seem to be short if confidence. Despite this they remain betting jollys to beat an Arsenal side who are in good form (domestically at least). I do see a few goals here and for this reason I reckon Olivier Giroud looks a standout bet to score. The Frenchman is bang in form and loves this competition too having previously banged in seven goals in 11 games. I don’t know what the French is for ‘do your b*llocks’ but that’s the advice here at odds better than 2/1.
Betting: Giroud to score anytime at 21/10 (Ladbrokes)
Bradford v Reading