It’s been a sad week for all animal lovers. When I heard that a huge mammal had to be rescued from the Thames, my initial reaction was to ring up McDonalds to check that the wife was OK. Unfortunately, the creature in question was a northern bottle-nosed whale. Bloody trouble making Northerners.
On a brighter note, there’s money to be made on the weekend FA Cup football. Opposing Arsenal away from home this season has been a nice little earner; that trend looks set to continue as the Gunners visit Bolton.
The week started well for Wenger, the Arsenal board splashed out 12 million pound on an exciting teenager, that’s more than Mark Oaten. The feel good factor quickly evaporated as a defeat at Goodison Park was followed by Carling Cup heartache. Arsenal were easily beaten in Bolton last month; with Wenger resting Henry, Lauren and Campbell, another Reebok shoeing awaits. Back Big Sam’s men at 5/2.
Paul Scholes has been ruled out for the season due to blurred vision, maybe my mother was right.
Man U could be in a spot of bother when they travel to play a side managed by tambourine banger Glenn Hoddle. Paul Ince has no real opposition in the middle of the pitch, United are in poor form away from home and only an exceptional Reading team have left Molineux victorious since September. The ingredients are all there, let’s put this bad boy in the oven. At 13/2, the Wolves are ready to pounce.
The match between West Ham and Blackburn will probably be the most exciting tie of the round. The signing of Dean Ashton was expensive business, £7m for a Canary seems high (I can get my hands on a whale for a monkey), but quality costs. These two have already met twice in the league; home advantage was the key in both games. The form of Benayoun edges me towards West Ham; the signing of Ashton clinches the deal. Pal up the Hammers at 5/4.
Stuart Pearce thinks it’s stupid to suggest he should be considered a contender for the next England manager, and if Psycho says it, I wholeheartedly agree. A derby day win is a flimsy wallpaper for an out of sorts City; Wigan on the other hand are a lot like my wife, they refuse to lie down. The Latics are a confident choice at 2/1, well as confident as you can be on a match that involves Man City.
In the week that the FA confirmed that Sven will not last beyond the summer, long time talking-horse Steve McClaren looks to be on the verge of receiving his P45. The Boro team have been sent to Coventry to revive their season, it’ll be an unhappy trip. Dennis Wise misses the tie due to a ban, taxi drivers throughout Coventry are appealing to the FA. Get on the draw at 9/4.
With Sven’s allegations of corruption hogging the headlines, I feel obligated to confess the following; Charlton’s forward line is completely Bent. Marcus is cup tied, but Darren can win the tie for the Addicks, the weekend good things at 2/7.
There’s a handful of weekend specials, well a Jeremy Beadle handful.
“Back from the dead” – Wolves to win from behind 25/1
“Here O’s” – Leyton Orient to score one goal or more 11/10
“Stinging the Blues” – Reading to score in both halves 11/4
“Remember the Whale” – Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick 16/1
Quote of the week:
“There wasn’t much in it, but he was clearly offside.”
Trevor Francis: the reason why a mute button appears on a remote control.
Stat, you’re a liberty:
The big guns are struggling. Man U haven’t won any of their last five matches away from home; Arsenal have only scored one goal in five league matches on the road.
Acc of the week:
Aston Villa, Charlton, West Ham, Bolton and Liverpool are the five best bets on the coupon, the accer pays out at 18/1.
Cheltenham v Newcastle Saturday 28th January 12.30 Live on BBC
Get on: Draw
Newcastle’s recent form: 1 point out of a possible 15. The Robins are flying high in league 2; you can’t touch the Geordies at odds on.
Match to finish 1-1 6/1
Aston Villa v Port Vale Saturday 28th January 15.00
Aston Villa 2/9
Port Vale 9/1
Get on: Aston Villa
Villa have drawn the Potteries side four times in the FA Cup, the Villa qualified at the first time of asking every time, scoring an impressive 18 goals. Only the Hammers have beaten the Villans since Man U left the Midlands with three points eight games ago. Banker home win.
Steve Davis to score at any time 5/2
Charlton v Leyton Orient Saturday 28th January 15.00
Leyton Orient 8/1
Get on: Charlton
Charlton have scored exactly two goals in five of their last six home matches; dull, but true. The O’s have scored 12 goals in their last five matches on the road; they can find the net, but it’ll only be a consolation.
Darren Bent to score a hat-trick 12/1
Coventry v Middlesbrough Saturday 28th January 15.00
Get on: Draw
Boro have conceded 12 goals in 3 games, even Nuneaton bagged a couple. Coventry put six past Derby in their last match, even at juicy odds against, you can’t back the Boro.
Match to finish 2-2 14/1
Everton v Chelsea Saturday 28th January 15.00
Get on: Chelsea
The last five matches between these two have produced two goals or less. It’s six consecutive wins on the road for the Champs; they couldn’t win at Goodison in the league earlier in the season, they’re due.
Chelsea to win 1-0 6/1
Man City v Wigan Saturday 28th January 15.00
Man City 11/10
Get on: Wigan
Wigan are on a high after securing a date in Cardiff; Man City have just one win in six league matches. The Latics beat City 4-3 at the JJB last month; they’re value for a repeat.
Jason Roberts to score two or more goals 8/1
Reading v Birmingham Saturday 28th January 15.00
Get on: Draw
It’s now 29 matches undefeated in the league for the Royals, they’re smoking. City’s five goal demolition of Pompey will add a little confidence, they’ll hold on for a draw.
Match to finish 1-1 11/2
West Ham v Blackburn Saturday 28th January 15.00
West Ham 5/4
Get on: West Ham
Interestingly, West Ham have won their last three matches by a 2-1 scoreline. Blackburn lost at Upton Park earlier in the season, they’re set for another Hammer blow.
Benayoun to score at any time 7/2
Bolton v Arsenal Saturday 28th January 17.40 Live on BBC
Get on: Bolton
Bolton are unbeaten at the Reebok since August; the Gunners are struggling to find the net on the road. You’ve got to side with Big Sam.
Bolton to keep a clean sheet 9/4
Wolves v Man Utd Sunday 29th January 16.00 Live on Sky
Man Utd 1/3
Get on: Wolves
Hoddle’s men are unbeatable at home, Fergie’s men are struggling to win away. A home win is the answer, with a little saver on the draw.
Paul Ince to score the only goal of the game 200/1
Portsmouth v Liverpool Sunday 29th January 18.00 Live on BBC
Get on: Liverpool
Liverpool’s loss at Old Trafford is there only reversal on the road for three months; and they were robbed. The stats say that Pompey have lost only one of their last five home matches, Gerry says get on the Pool.
Gerrard to score at any time 7/4