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07/08 FA Cup 5th Round Predictions: Arsenal and Manchester United to draw, Liverpool, Chelsea, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough to win



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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.

FA Cup 2007/2008 Fifth Round Draw

February 16

Bristol Rovers v. Southampton
Cardiff v. Wolves
Coventry v. West Brom
Chelsea v. Huddersfield
Liverpool v. Barnsley
Manchester United v. Arsenal

February 17

Sheffield United v. Middlesbrough
Preston v. Portsmouth

OLBG Bet Of The Week

Play Up Pompey will be the call from OLBG members. Portsmouth to beat Preston has the distinction of being our bet of the week.

Preston have a proud record in the competition. The FA Cup has seen many of their greatest truimphs in days gone by but the priority in 2008 is surely championship survival.

Portsmouth have one of the best records in the premiership away from home and Harry Redknapp is a manager who will take the cup seriously and put out a strong team. His African players are back in training at Fratton Park and are expected to figure.

The clinching reason why we chose this bet is the attractive odds of 1.9. Odds compilers come sunday evening may regret offering this price if as we expect pompey overpower preston. Have your say at www.olbg.co.uk.

Editor: And because I know you guys want that picture above, here’s Gemma Atkinson in the jungle…