LIVERPOOL vs MANCHESTER UNITED
TOMORROW – 12.45PM ITV1
THE year didn’t start at all well for Manchester United when they were trashed 3-0 at Newcastle. However, since then they have bounced back with two big victories – at Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup and last week’s success at the Emirates.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were brilliant in the first half of both those games, but their concentration slipped in the second period, and they will have to avoid making those mistakes at Anfield tomorrow.
Liverpool eliminated Man City from the Carling Cup on Wednesday night and will now meet Cardiff at Wembley next month in the final. It was obvious from the reaction of the crowd, players and management how important it is for them to win some silverware and they will be confident of defeating the Bluebirds.
The FA Cup has certainly lost some of its magic over the past decade or so, but City and United took the game seriously when they met earlier this month and I’d expect both sides to do exactly the same this weekend.
United have looked good in recent weeks and it’s fair to say that their margins of victory against City and Arsenal probably should have been bigger. There are still some defensive errors, but they are stronger going forward and you’d expect them to score goals against pretty much anyone at the moment.
These great rivals met at Old Trafford in the third round of this competition last year, when a second minute Ryan Giggs penalty was enough to separate the sides. Steven Gerrard was sent off that day and if you think another red card is likely to be shown, make sure you bet with Coral. The firm are refunding all losing bets on first/last goalscorer, correct score and scorecasts if a red card is shown in any of the live TV FA Cup games this weekend.
Liverpool did well against City in both legs of the Carling Cup tie, but they have lost to Bolton and drawn with Stoke in their past two league games. I just think United are the stronger side and they will be desperate to win a trophy this season. Back the away win at 17/10 with Coral.
Both teams have scored in six of their last eight meetings and United have conceded in four of their last five games. The both teams to score market is available at 8/11 with Coral and I would also advise spread bettors to buy total goals at 2.7 with Sporting Index.
WATFORD vs TOTTENHAM
TONIGHT – 7.45PM ESPN
HARRY Redknapp’s preparations for this FA Cup tie have been hindered by his appearance at Southwark Crown Court, but a visit to Watford this evening shouldn’t be too taxing for Tottenham.
The match, which kicks off the fourth round, provides the opportunity to help put Sunday’s disappointment at the Etihad behind them and Spurs are rightly red-hot favourites. Despite their defeat to Man City there were many positives to take from that match and even if Redknapp chooses to rotate his squad, his starting XI will be full of internationals.
There is a huge quality chasm between the two squads – as demonstrated by Watford’s place at the wrong end of the Championship. The Hornets sit 18th in the second tier and have lost three in a row.
Spurs are 1/2 with Coral and it makes sense to back them even at short prices at Vicarage Road against an outfit which struggles for goals. Sean Dyche’s charges have managed just 28 goals in their 27 Championship games, while Spurs have scored in every league match this season, other than against Manchester United in their opening game.
Blue Square’s 13/10 about Spurs to win to nil should be snapped up. In nine of Watford’s 12 league reverses they have failed to score, including when they lost 3-0 last time out at Birmingham. Furthermore, six of Spurs’ last seven victories, and all of the last five, have come without their opponents registering. Thinking along these lines leads me to recommend a buy of the visitors’ supremacy at 1.2 with Sporting Index.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Spurs go far in this year’s tournament, as their tough upcoming run of league games is likely to scupper their title bid. However, the bookmakers seem to agree with me and I can’t suggest backing them at a general 5/1 to life the trophy in May.
SUNDERLAND vs MIDDLESBROUGH
SUNDAY – 1.30PM ITV1
THERE is a decent chance this could be a Premier League fixture next season thanks to Middlesbrough’s good form this campaign. They lie fourth in the Championship and will be sniffing an upset in the Tees-Wear derby.
That would have looked a lot more likely a couple of months ago, but Sunderland have won six of Martin O’Neill’s 10 games in charge. The Northern Irishman has saved the Black Cats’ season, with his appointment bringing a tidal wave of optimism to the club.
While things are also going well at Boro under Tony Mowbray, his side have recorded three league losses on the spin, which only helps to highlight the importance of the league over the cup on the club’s list of priorities.
O’Neill might be eyeing a push for the European places through a Premier League finish, but this tournament could provide a possible shortcut to the continent.
Among the outsiders, Sunderland stand out and I think they will give this competition a real try. At a best-price 20/1 with Coral they are worth a small each-way poke to lift the trophy and I’d certainly back them to win Sunday’s early afternoon TV game at 4/6 with Blue Square.
Spread bettors are, though, encouraged to sell goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index. I fancy the hosts to claim an efficient victory, with the nervy derby atmosphere likely to see both outfits keeping it tight.