FA Cup Quarter-Final: Sunday 10th March 2013: 4:30pm
When it is crunch time in the football season, the games come thick and fast. No-one will know this better than Sir Alex Ferguson, who after conceding a quarter-final place in the Champions League to Real Madrid on Tuesday, now has a huge match to contest when Chelsea visit Old Trafford on Sunday. The prize is a spot in the semi-final of the FA Cup, and would put Ferguson’s team on course for the double. United are 9/4 with Bet365 to triumph in the competition this season, whilst Chelsea can be found at 6/1 with BetVictor.
Both managers are coveting this trophy for differing reasons; for Ferguson, it would represent a display of domestic dominance over neighbours Manchester City, whereas for Benítez winning the FA Cup would at least mean his controversial season in charge of the Blues was not a complete wash-out.
Both teams have a phenomenal record in the competition, with United notching 11 wins in comparison with Chelsea’s seven. However, the last time United lifted the trophy was in 2004 against Millwall, and Chelsea have the much better recent record in the competition, succeeding in four out of the last six seasons.
Chelsea look set for a case of the Blues
After Tuesday’s divisive loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League, Fergie was said to be ‘distraught’ at how his team had exited the competition. Dreams of an unprecedented second treble were dashed, and you can bet that the Scotsman will not let another trophy drift out of his grasp easily this season. As such, United are favourites with the bookies (and with us) to triumph over a Jekyll-and-Hyde Chelsea side; the Red Devils are best priced for the win at 5/6 with Paddy Power and Coral. If you like the look of a Chelsea win however, William Hill will offer you 19/5 on them turning Old Trafford blue, while the draw is at 29/10 with Boylesports.
As with most games between these two, it will be a tight, and Ladbrokes’ offer of 29/10 for United to win by one goal does look tempting; but it may just be worth taking into account a Chelsea’s fragility and United’s sense of injustice after Tuesday. As such, the 17/4 for United to win by two goals with Ladbrokes could be a shrewd move.
Rockin’ Robin Still Top of the Charts
He may be experiencing an understandable blip in form, with one goal in his last eight, but Robin van Persie is still the bookies favourite to get himself on the scoresheet on Sunday. He remains odds-on with many for Anytime Goalscorer, but is best priced with Stan James, who have him at evens.
For our money, we like the look of an 11/4 Shinji Kagawa anytime goalscorer. The Japanese international showed against Norwich the class and deftness of touch he possesses, and could exploit the space that is likely to be found in-between Eden Hazard and César Azpilicueta. Skybet have Kagawa at 11/4 to get on the scoresheet.
After Fernando Torres’ nightmare in Bucharest on Thursday night, Benítez will be hard-pushed to find a reason to start him against United, even if he does have previous history in terrorising Nemanja Vidić. As such, his competition for the main striking berth, Demba Ba, is 11/4 to score anytime with Coral, and seems at the minute to be a much better option for a goal than Torres.
Cards on the Cards?
It is always a feisty affair when red meets blue in England, and this game should be no different. SkyBet have a range of players on the to be shown a card market, and David Luiz at 2/1 looks promising.
An outside bet for a card could be the Belgian, Eden Hazard. He has a habit of going down too easily, and has a feisty temper to boot, so to see him earn a booking or more in such a hotly-contested game would not be a surprise. SkyBet have him at 9/2 if you fancy this outcome.
In addition to this, William Hill are offering fantastic odds of 21/10 on there being more than six cards in the game. In such a fractious game as this, this is a bet that you do not want to miss out on.
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.