Chelsea v Brentford
Chelsea will be feeling very lucky to still be in the FA Cup when they welcome Brentford to Stamford Bridge this weekend; the Blues had to come from behind twice to ensure they even earned this replay against the League One side. As such, the clamour for Benitez to exit the Bridge with his tail between his legs has again been the subject of much discussion, and Stan James have him at 10/1 to be the next Premier League manager to be leave his position. A 4-1 win over Wigan last weekend saw his side bag a few morale-boosting goals, and against a Brentford team who have won just one in their last six, it is hard to look beyond Chelsea for the win.
As such, you will find Chelsea at very short odds to go through to the 5th round, with Coral,Ladbrokes, and Stan James all placing a Chelsea win at 1/6. The draw is best priced at 8/1 withBetfred, and if you fancy Brentford to pull off a smash and grab and take the tie, BetVictor have them at 17/1. However, even with Rafa’s oft-criticised rotation policy that could possibly see starts for Victor Moses and Ryan Bertrand, it is hard to see the Blues slipping up against the Bees in their quest to reclaim the cup.
It will not be easy for Chelsea; Brentford will go into the tie with a nothing-to-lose attitude coupled with the knowledge they have caused problems for the West-Londoners before, but a home win still seems likely. For Chelsea to edge it 2-1, BetVictor will give you 12/1, and a slightly less nervy 3-1 to Chelsea can be found at 11/1, again with BetVictor.
The game should see a few goals; Brentford will go into the game knowing they have the potential to grab at least one at the Bridge, while Chelsea will be doing everything in their power to ensure the win. Therefore, over 2.5 goals does not seem a bad bet, and Ladbrokes are offering 4/11 on this outcome.
For Anytime Goalscorer, Frank Lampard is a very tempting option. The Chelsea veteran has been in scintillating form this season, seeming to score at vital moments from off the bench, and he will be doing all he can to prove to Roman Abramovich he is worthy of a new contract. Coral have him at 5/4 to get a goal this weekend.
The masked crusader Demba Ba looks good for a goal as well if Benítez decides to start him. In recent weeks he has looked a more able goal threat than Fernando Torres, and Coral will offer you 8/11 on him scoring.
The opening half should be a tight affair, with neither team wanting to give away the initiative early on. However, as the game wears on, we should see Chelsea’s superior conditioning and quality shine through. It may prove fruitful to plump for a Half Time/Full Time bet with Draw/Chelsea. Betfred will offer you a generous 9/2 on this.
Leading on from this, Paddy Power are offering 11/8 on there being a goal scored from the 81st minute to the end of regular time. Chelsea showed in the previous fixture they are not averse to scoring late goals, and being a cup match if either team are losing by one goal come the last ten minutes, expect to see a flurry of goal-mouth activity.
Man City v Leeds
Another manager who might be feeling the heat is Roberto Mancini. After all but gift-wrapping the title for Sir Alex Ferguson, SkyBet have the Italian at 11/4 to leave the Etihad. The FA Cup may prove a lifeline, and winning it would surely show he is indeed striving (and succeeding) to breed a winning culture in the blue half of Manchester. Taking this into account, City are 5/2 across many bookmakers, including Bet365 and Paddy Power, to win the Cup. However, patchy recent form and underperforming stars mean the Citizens will have to be wary when attempting to overcome Neil Warnock’s hard-working Leeds side.
Home advantage and superior quality should be enough to see City into the next round; they have only lost six times at the Etihad in the last three seasons. Many bookmakers have them at 1/6, but the best price for a home win is with Coral at 2/9. Boylesports offer the best result on a draw, at 7/1, whilst Leeds remain huge outsiders with all bookmakers, as seen with Stan James and BetVictor’s 16/1 pricing of them for the win.
While Leeds will be looking to rattle the City backline as much as possible throughout the course of the game, the rear-guard should prove strong whilst giving a platform for the forwards to work their magic. A 2-0 home win does not seem too far-fetched, and Bet365 will offer you 11/2 on this.
With a choice between three main strikers, and a wealth of attacking midfielders, it is hard to predict a Mancini starting eleven, let alone who will score. This is further complicated with the manager having said recently that places are under threat after a dire performance against struggling Southampton. Having said this, Edin Džeko looks to be in the midst of another solid, yet not spectacular, goalscoring season. He will provide a goal-threat whether he starts or comes on from the bench, and Coral will give you odds of 10/11 on him getting on the scoresheet.
Yaya Touré has scored a few in the FA Cup in recent years, and with the Ivorian back from the African Cup of Nations, City will be hoping he rediscovers his form of last season sooner rather than later. Against a Leeds side who have not been stellar performers in the Championship this season, it may be worth sticking money on the midfield powerhouse to score, for which Blue Square and Stan Jameswill offer you 15/8.
A Manchester City clean sheet is an outcome that is very easy to see come through. Mancini’s outfit will be looking to go through comfortably and if they are able, they will not want to concede in the process. You can find this at 8/11 with Bet365.
The method of first goal is something that may be worth looking at. If breaking Leeds down with their slick interplay proves too hard for City, they have many great headers of the ball who will prove a problem for the Championship side. BetVictor are offering 17/4 on the first goal being a header.
Sam publishes regular feature and tips pieces for Howtobet4free. He has a blog, crackingjabulanis.blogspot.co.uk, and can be found on Twitter by following @Gaytski.