City fancied for FA Cup triumph at Stoke

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The last time Stoke and Manchester City met in the FA Cup was at Wembley in the 2011 final.

City came out on top that day thanks to a Yaya Toure winner and bookies expect Roberto Mancini’s men to have the upper hand again, Betfred making them odds-on at 4/5 to prevail as the pair renew hostilities in the fourth round this time.

Stoke are 4/1 courtesy BetVictor to ensure City won’t lift the trophy for the second time in three seasons but the two teams have been inseparable in their last three meetings at the Britannia Stadium and subsequently, Stan James’ 11/4 for it to finish all square is arguably the best match bet.

Moreover, as all of those recent draws have ended one-apiece, a repeat of that scoreline at 6/1 (bet365) isn’t without appeal and Skybet post an enticing 5/1 against scores being level after both 45 and 90 minutes.

Edin Dzeko meanwhile, has been amongst the goals lately for City, finding the net four times in his last five matches and Stan James make the Bosnian front man 15/8 to add to his tally at some stage in the Potteries.

Fulham aren’t in the best of shape at present so it’s easy to see why they’re just 3/10 at Paddy Power to lose out to Manchester United.

The Cottagers were in the same city last week, losing out 2-0 to United’s neighbours and a similar outcome is on the cards here, bet365 pricing Sir Alex Ferguson’s men at 11/10 to win ‘to nil’ at Old Trafford, where they’re 7/1 (BetVictor) to notch twice without reply.

The three televised clashes on Sunday all feature Premier League teams visiting lower division opposition and all of them should avoid the potential banana skins.

Tottenham have what on paper looks like the toughest tie, they’re 7/10 via William Hill to edge out Leeds while Ladbrokes rate Chelsea at 3/10 to overcome League One Brentford in a derby clash at Griffin Park and Stan James offer 2/7 about a Liverpool success at Oldham. The three teams combine in a treble at 7/4 (BetVictor).

Punters seeking an upset might cast an eye over the contest at Moss Rose, where non-league Macclesfield saw off Championship leaders Cardiff in round three and are 6/1 with bet365 to dish out the same treatment to Wigan but those hoping for a shock at Carrow Road will be disappointed – Norwich are a home banker at 1/3 via Ladbrokes as they entertain Blue Square Premier play-off chasers Luton.

Elsewhere, Brighton accounted for Newcastle in the last round but are unlikely to repeat the feat against Arsenal (7/10, BetVictor), who see this as their best chance of silverware and also keen to put together a meaningful cup run are Everton, Stan James’ 8/11 favourites ahead of the visit to Bolton.

Top flight strugglers Reading however, might be a touch vulnerable as they lock horns with Sheffield United. The Royals are in decent form but boss Brian McDermott will make plenty of changes and their League One opponents tempt at 3/1 courtesy of Skybet to force a replay.

England have already lost the five-match ODI series against India, Wednesday’s five-wicket defeat giving the hosts an unassailable 3-1 lead and the tourists are as high as 13/8 with Ladbrokes to reduce the arrears and restore some pride in the final contest.

William Hill, meanwhile, make India 4/6 to clinch a 4-1 series victory and given England’s performances in the last three matches, the hosts are hard to oppose in Dharamsala.

Patriotic punters looking for some value where Alistair Cook and company are concerned should look to the Top England Batsman market, where Kevin Pietersen is a 7/2 chance courtesy of BetVictor and for the home side bet365 offer 4/1 about Cheteshwar Pujara racking up the most runs.

England and France are vying for favouritism ahead of the Six Nations, which gets under way next weekend.

Stan James rate both at 2/1 to ultimately emerge victorious but BetVictor lean towards Stuart Lancaster’s troops, pricing the French at 9/4.

Given that England enjoy home advantage against France and both teams have to visit Ireland, it’s Lancaster’s charges that should just about have the edge, although a Grand Slam doesn’t look likely and indeed Ladbrokes quote 4/6 for nobody to win all of their matches.

Elsewhere, Stan James post 7/2 against England winning the Triple Crown and that price isn’t without appeal, although punters should remember that a trip to Dublin is by no means straightforward.

Bet of the week: England to win the Six Nations – 2/1 (Stan James).

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