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FA Cup Tips: Henry returns to Arsenal and 2012’s first Manchester derby

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Liverpool are 1.12 to beat Oldham tonight and progress into the next round of the FA Cup, and it really should be a case of how many they win by despite their poor home record.

The Reds have won all three previous meetings between the two sides in this competition, and although they have been eliminated at this stage in each of the last two seasons it’s 88 years since they went three consecutive seasons without making it past the third round.

In  reality there is a huge gulf between the two sides.

The visitors are currently contesting their 15th consecutive season in the third division and sit 52 places below Liverpool in the Football League.

Dalglish is likely to rotate his squad tonight, which could mean recalls for defenders Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates who have not started since the Carling Cup win at Chelsea in late November.

Striker Luis Suarez serves the second game of an eight-match ban, and that is likely to mean a return for Craig Bellamy, looks good value to score first and set them on the way to victory at the 4.75 on offer with bet365.

He is the type of player who thrives on this stage, and his terrier like attitude is likely to cause the Oldham backline all sorts of problems.

Liverpool to win to nil also looks worth a punt at 1.83 with Paddy Power. That looks a huge price given their cramped odds in the outright market.

1-0 to United?

Manchester United are 3.5 shots to gain their revenge on City in this weekend’s derby clash at the Etihad and the stats suggest their may not be as much to choose between the two sides as the odds suggest.

This is will be the eighth FA Cup meeting between the two sides, and the Red Devils have won four compared to City’s   three so far.

United have also only been eliminated at this stage once in 26 attempts since 1984 – that defeat coming in 2009/10 against Leeds.

There has also not been much between the two sides in their last seven clashes at the Etihad, with five of those games ending 1-0 – twice to City and three times to United.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will be keen to banish the memory of their meeting in the league earlier in the season at Old Trafford which saw City register a 6-1 victory.

The problem is that they have struggled with injuries in recent weeks, and come into the game on the back of losses to Blackburn and Newcastle.

It would be no surprise if Sir Alex started with a five-man midfield in a bid to try and stop the Citizens playing free-flowing football.

If that’s the case then Rooney could well play as a lone striker, where he will go head-to-head with Kompany in what could be a titanic battle.

I fancy United to sneak it 1-0, and that scoreline is an 11 shot with bet365.

Chelsea v Portsmouth

Chelsea are 1.2 shots to beat Portsmouth in their 3rd round FA Cup tie at The Bridge, and they really should run riot and register a wide victory.

The Blues have won their last six matches against Portsmouth in all competitions, conceding just one goal in the process.

They are also unbeaten in their last 16 FA Cup games since the start of 2008/09 – not including penalty shoot-outs –  winning 13 and drawing three.

It really should be a question of how many they put past their opponents, and Didier Drogba the one that appeals to get the opener and things underway.

He has scored in his last three appearances against Portsmouth and is a standout 4.5 with bet365 to net the opener. That looks cracking value given that he is a short as 3.25 in a place.

I also think  backing Chelsea in the HT/FT market looks a solid wager at 1.57 with Paddy Power as it’s nigh on impossible to envisage them not being ahead after 45 minutes.

I fancy them to win this 4-0 which is an 11 shot with bet365.

Arsenal v Leeds

Arsenal are a top priced 1.29 to win their FA Cup 3rd round tie against Leeds at the Emirates on Monday, a game which could see a first start for Thierry Henry since his return to the club.

Henry completed his return to the club today when he signed a short-term loan deal from the Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.

The move to bring back the 34-year-old former France international, who left the Gunners for Barcelona in 2007, had long been expected and he is a 5.5 shot with Betfred to make a dream start and net the opening goal.

That looks a decent price given that he 11 goals in 11 games against Leeds in all competitions, including four in his last appearance against them at Highbury.

You can also get 2.25 with Betfred about him scoring anytime, and that makes plenty of appeal if Arsene Wenger decides to give him a start.

Whether he plays or not Arsenal’s record in this competition suggests they should win with the minimum of fuss.

The Gunners have made it past this round in each of the last 15 seasons and have lost only one of their last 35 FA Cup games at home under Wenger.

I fancy Arsenal to win this to nil, and they are a massive looking 2.3 with Paddy Power to do so.

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