Sunderland v Arsenal
It’s FA Cup weekend, with the feature game seeing Sunderland take on Arsenal at the Stadium of Light (5.15pm KO, Live on ITV 1)
The Gunners will be hoping to repeat their 2-1 victory over the Black Cats in the league last weekend and are 2.6 shots with Boylesports to do just that.
However they need to bounce back from a very poor midweek display which saw them get a 4-0 mauling at the hands of AC Milan in the Champions League, and this is a really tough game in which to do so.
But Arsene Wenger is sure to have read the riot act to his players after that game, and if they can rep-group and put in a similar performance that they did 7 days ago they could be a bit of value at the odds on offer
The stats reveal that there is nothing to choose between the two sides as far as there meetings in this competition is concerned.
Arsenal’s first FA Cup tie under Wenger was against Sunderland, with the Gunners wining 2-0 at Roker Park in a 3rd Round replay in 1997.
Overall the two clubs have been drawn together six times, with each side progressing on three occasions.
Sunderland have won just to of their last six FA Cup home matches, while Arsenal have won only two of their last seven on the road in this comp.
So it will probably all come down to which team is up for it most on the day, and a lot will obviously rest once again on the shoulders of Robin van Persie who has been central to Arsenal’s success this season.
He has been scoring virtually every time he takes to the pitch in the past year, and has netted seven times s in his last nine FA Cup appearances.
That makes the Dutchman once again look decent value at 4.75 with bet365 to net the opener.
Chelsea v Birmingham
Chelsea are long-odds on at 1.3 with Paddy Power to beat Birmingham after some lacklustre displays and the Londoners looks bankers in a game which they simply can’t afford to lose.
The Blues threw away a 3-0 advantage in their draw with Man United and then didn’t turn up in their 2-0 defeat by Everton at Goodison last time out.
AVB is now a man under pressure as a result and he will know that anything but a convincing victory here will see that mount with many already calling for him to be replaced.
As far as the stats are concerned this should be a stroll in the park for Chelsea.
They have won 13 and lost just one of the last 19 matches in all competitions with Birmingham, and have won eight and lost none of the last 10 meetings between the two sides at Stamford Bridge.
That suggests that if the do play to their strengths they should be able to win this without reply, and they have a whole host of players with good goal scoring records in the FA Cup.
Frank Lampard has scored 18 goals in his last 24 appearances, Didier Drogba has scored six in his last nine and Daniel Sturridge has scored seven goals in eight appearances – including six in five starts for Chelsea in the competition.
Liverpool v Brighton
Liverpool play host to Brighton at Anfield and are long odds-on at 1.25 to see off the Seagulls.
The Reds had been in top form before being beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford last weekend, and should have little difficulty landing the odds.
Although they were beaten by United there was certainly one positive to be taken out of the game and that was seeing Luis Suarez making his comeback after suspension and marking it with a goal.
The Uruguayan is a key figure for the Reds and is likely to cause Brighton’s defence all sorts of problems having looked as eager and sharp as ever last week.
As far as the stats are concerned the two sides have met four times in the FA Cup, with each managing two wins.
However Brighton haven’t won away against a top division side in the FA Cup since they beat Newcastle in 1986, and when the two side’s met this season in the Carling Cup in was Liverpool who came out 2-1 away from home.
In truth it should be plain sailing for the Reds, and Kenny Dalglish is sure to want to get the job done at the first time of asking.
Suarez is favourite to break the deadlock at 4.33, but better value could lie with Steven Gerrard at 6.5 with bet365.
The inspirational captain has scored eight goals in his last 11 FA Cup starts and this is just the type of stage that he relishes.
He can also be backed at 2.4 with bet365 to net anytime, and that looks a decent punt given his record.
Everton v Blackpool
Everton are in flying form at present and look bankers at 1.53 with Boylesports to beat Blackpool at Goodison.
The Toffees are unbeaten in their last six matches, and have taken the scalps of Man City and Chelsea in that impressive run.
David Moyes’ men hold a serious chance of winning this competition if carrying on in the same vain, and the Tangerines could be in for a tonking.
Indeed the stats suggest that this could turn into a goalfest and over 2.5 goals looks a great punt at 1.8 with Paddy Power given that the last two meetings between the two sides has seen 12 goals netted.