Lure of a trophy could make Arsenal’s clash with Everton a cracker

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Slightly off the title pace and on the verge of a Champions League exit, Arsenal might not be so keen to ring the changes as they entertain Everton in the FA Cup, which now represents the Gunners’ best chance of ending the campaign with some silverware.

Similarly, the Toffees will head to north London with all guns blazing having seemingly slipped out of contention for a top-four berth and subsequently the Emirates Stadium contest could be an absolute cracker, just as it was when the pair met at the same venue in the Premier League.

That one finished 1-1, a scoreline that BetVictor rate at 7/1 on this occasion, it’s 13/5 courtesy of Stan James for the tie to require a replay and bet365 post 5/1 against the teams being inseparable at the end of each half.

Nevertheless, in light of their formidable home record, the Gunners are considered odds-on favourites by bet365 at 4/5 and as Roberto Martinez’s men, 4/1 shots via William Hill, have acquitted themselves well but failed to score when on top in recent matches at similarly high-quality oppositions in the shape of Chelsea and Tottenham, those odds seem fair.

Like those games however, this should be close so BetVictor’s 11/4 about an Arsenal victory by one stands out, chalk a 1-0 victory for Arsene Wenger’s troops up at 15/2 and for punters expecting Everton to have more cutting edge following the goal scoring return of striker Romelu Lukaku (12/5 with Skybet to notch), a 2-1 home victory is 8/1 (Ladbrokes).

Last year’s FA Cup finalists Manchester City and Wigan renew hostilities at Eastlands but the Latics aren’t expected to stun their neighbours again, Stan James making them 16/1 outsiders.

Manuel Pellegrini’s troops collected the Capital One Cup on Sunday and it’s easy to see why they’re just 3/20 at betway to edge closer to lifting this trophy as well.

Paddy Power post 11/10 against City in the handicaps, where they start two goals behind the cup holders, it’s 6/1 (Ladbrokes) for the hosts to net three times without reply and fit-again front man Sergio Aguero is 14/5 via BetVictor to break the deadlock.

Beaten in the League Cup final last weekend, Sunderland would love to return to Wembley but with bookies expecting Premier League survival to be the Black Cats’ priority, Stan James rate them as 11/4 outsiders ahead of the last eight clash at Hull (6/5, Paddy Power).

Meanwhile, at Bramall Lane, in-form League One outfit Sheffield United are a generous 5/4 courtesy of bet365 to see off Championship strugglers Charlton.

In the Premier League, Ladbrokes price Chelsea at 8/13 to boost their title hopes by defeating Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, where BetVictor offer 13/8 about a Blues success ‘to nil’ and it’s 13/2 (bet365) for Jose Mourinho’s side to grab the only goal.

West Brom remain winless under Pepe Mel and that sequence looks set to continue as they entertain Manchester United,’s 3/4 jollies at the Hawthorns and an away victory also stands out in Cardiff, where Felix Magath’s Fulham can defy BetVictor’s odds of 9/4.

Finally, BetVictor go 13/5 about Crystal Palace making four defeats on the spin in all competitions for Southampton and on what might prove to be a good day for underdogs, it’s 12/5 at Stan James for Stoke to turn up the heat on Norwich boss Chris Hughton at Carrow Road.

England’s Six Nations hopes again pretty much hinge on a clash with Wales and Stan James rate Stuart Lancaster’s charges at 8/15 to make amends for last year’s disappointment in Cardiff, by defeating the Welsh at Twickenham on Sunday.

Warren Gatland’s troops are 17/10 (William Hill) to get one over on their rivals again but the hosts should have the edge on their own patch and they’re a generous 10/11 in the handicaps, when starting four points behind.

On Saturday, the buoyant Irish are 10/11 courtesy of bet365 to overhaul Italy’s 22-point advantage in Dublin and price France at 10/11 to defeat Scotland by more than eight at Murrayfield.

Novak Djokovic heads the betting at 2/1 with Ladbrokes to land the ATP Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells and, as Skybet’s 9/4 second favourite Rafa Nadal faces such a tortuous route to victory, it’s difficult to oppose the Serb.

Bet365 price Roger Federer at 8/1 and Andy Murray of course, is always a danger, BetVictor chalking the Scot up at 11/1 but Djokovic ultimately gets the nod.

Bet of the week: Novak Djokovic to win the BNP Paribas Open – 2/1 (Ladbrokes).

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