Bookies confident Gunners will move a step closer to Wembley

Brighton manager Chris Hughton will be plotting an FA Cup shock when his team take on Arsenal this weekend
Brighton manager Chris Hughton will be plotting an FA Cup shock when his team take on Arsenal this weekend

FA Cup holders Arsenal accounted for Hull in the third round of the competition three weeks ago in a re-run of last year’s final and were subsequently handed a trip to Championship outfit Brighton at the next stage.

The Gunners are 15/2 with betway to retain the trophy – odds that make them fourth favourites.

Bookies are confident that Arsene Wenger’s men will move a step closer to another trip to Wembley this weekend, BetVictor installing them as 4/7 favourites to eliminate the Seagulls at the first attempt while the hosts are bet365’s 5/1 outsiders to cause an upset and Stan James offer 3/1 about the tie requiring a replay.

The pair met at this stage in the tournament two years ago and on that day Arsenal ran out 3-2 winners – a result that’s 25/1 courtesy of Stan James on this occasion.

But Chris Hughton’s team aren’t exactly prolific in attack on their own patch so it’s hard to envisage them netting twice against a Gunners rearguard that has managed three consecutive clean sheets.

Indeed, Wenger’s charges are decent value at 7/4 with bet365 to prevail ‘to nil’ at the Amex Stadium, where BetVictor price them at 15/2 to notch twice without reply and at the other end Olivier Giroud, who struck twice in the pair’s last clash, is 10/3 (Skybet) to break the deadlock in this renewal.

Premier League leaders Chelsea are Stan James’s 9/2 favourites to clinch the FA Cup and Paddy Power quote Jose Mourinho’s troops at just 1/8 to advance this weekend, at the expense of League One Bradford.

The Blues are 9/10 in’s handicaps, when starting two goals adrift of the Bantams and it’s 3/1 at bet365 for Loic Remy to make the most of a probable start by opening the scoring.

Manchester City are also strongly fancied to get through, William Hill making them 1/4 to overcome Middlesbrough, although a better bet at Eastlands is betway’s evens for both teams to get on the scoresheet.

Manchester United can join neighbours City in the fifth round, Ladbrokes rating them at 1/5 to get the better of Cambridge United in tomorrow (Friday) night’s televised affair and they combine with Chelsea and City in a safe-looking treble at 4/6 with BetVictor.

Punters seeking potential upsets should look no further than Villa Park, where Stan James make Championship leaders Bournemouth a generous 2/1 to conquer struggling Aston Villa.

On Monday, the same firm go 9/2 about League One Rochdale stunning a Stoke side given an almighty scare by non-League Wrexham in the last round and it’s an eye catching 21/10 (bet365) for Blackburn to upset Swansea at Ewood Park. A treble on those three is one for the ambitious at 50/1 via Stan James.

Elsewhere, BetVictor chalk West Ham up at an enticing even money to get the better of Bristol City, Liverpool (1/3, Paddy Power) should ease past Bolton and offer 3/5 about Tottenham triumphing in their all-Premier League scrap with Leicester.

Rugby Union’s European Champions Cup continues this weekend and bet365’s 2/1 tournament favourites Toulon are strongly fancied to pick up a victory as they head to Scarlets.

The French outfit are just 2/9 at Paddy Power to prevail in Llanelli and the defending champions are 9/10 in Ladbrokes’s handicaps, when starting 10 points in arrears.

BetVictor make Clermont Auvergne 7/2 to lift the trophy and it’s 3/10 at Skybet for them to demonstrate their strength as they take on Saracens. The hosts are penalised by seven in’s handicaps at odds of 4/5.

Northampton are the other team considered a major contender for European glory at 5/1 (Stan James) and they’re 2/7 with Paddy Power to underline their credentials by overcoming Racing Metro.

BetVictor, meanwhile, make Saints 5/6 to triumph by nine or more points at Franklins Gardens.

Bet of the week: Bournemouth to beat Aston Villa – 2/1 (Stan James).

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