City full of confidence for Wembley showdown

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Realistically, Manchester City’s victory at Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday changes nothing in terms of the title race.

However, what it will undoubtedly do is fill Roberto Mancini’s men with confidence and subsequently it can also act as a springboard to propel City to an FA Cup semi-final victory against Chelsea at Wembley this weekend.

Paddy Power price the 2011 winners at 6/4 to end the Blues’ impressive unbeaten run in FA Cup ties while Rafa Benitez’s charges are 19/10 via BetVictor to emerge triumphant in normal time and it’s 12/5 courtesy of Stan James to finish all-square. But although the stalemate is set to prove popular, Mancini’s charges are hard to oppose on the back of their Old Trafford success.

Nevertheless, a close encounter seems likely, lending appeal to bet365’s 3/1 posted against a City triumph by one and Coral quote odds of 9/1 against them finishing on the right side of a 2-1 scoreline, just as they did against their neighbours a few days ago.

Sergio Aguero has come off the bench in City’s last couple but must surely be pushing for a start following his winner against United. The Argentine striker catches the eye in the first score betting then at 5/1 (Stan James) and BetVictor chalk Aguero up at 7/4 to notch at any point.

Wigan are odds-on at 4/5 with Ladbrokes to overcome Championship opponents Millwall in the other semi-final contest and despite the Latics’ relegation battle potentially providing a distraction, they look decent value at 13/2 via William Hill to grab the only goal.

In the Premier League, Manchester United are an 8/13 chance at bet365 to restore their 15-point lead at the summit by getting the better of freefalling Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. The Potters have taken just one point from their last six matches and Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops, who are 31/20 (BetVictor) to lead at the end of each half, can extend that dismal sequence.

Newcastle have pulled clear of danger but will be desperate to turn up the heat on struggling rivals Sunderland at St James’ Park. The Magpies are 10/11 with Skybet to increase the Black Cats’ relegation worries and Papiss Cisse is 9/2 via Stan James to pop up with another goal by breaking the deadlock on Tyneside.

Aston Villa can put further distance between themselves and the bottom three as they host Fulham at Villa Park. Bet365 offer 13/10 about a home success and Christian Benteke is 11/2 (Coral) to put Paul Lambert’s men 1-0 in front.

Staying at the bottom, QPR and Reading could be cut further adrift following their respective matches against Merseyside pair Everton and Liverpool. Rangers, still smarting after Wigan’s late leveller at Loftus Road on Sunday, are 4/9 at BetVictor to return from Goodison Park empty-handed and Stan James mark 1/2 against the Reds seeing off the Royals.

Finally, at the Emirates Stadium, Skybet rate Arsenal at 1/4 to move into the top four by getting the better of Norwich and it’s 13/5 at Ladbrokes for Southampton and West Ham to be inseparable.

In Friday’s televised Super League clash, St Helens are odds-on at 4/9 with BetVictor to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Hull KR by getting the better of Catalans Dragons at Langtree Park.

The French outfit have suffered back-to-back losses and were well beaten 28-8 at Hull FC last time out so Saints get the nod in the handicaps at 4/5 (bet365) when kicking off eight points adrift.

On Saturday, struggling Castleford entertain Widnes in their first match since parting company with coach Ian Millward. The Tigers are fancied to respond to the change at the helm, Stan James making them 4/5 to cover the visitors’ four-point start.

All eyes will be on the Red Bull camp in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, three weeks after Sebastian Vettel controversially ignored team orders to overtake Mark Webber in Malaysia. That victory means the German heads the Drivers Championship standings and he’s now odds-on at 10/11 via Paddy Power to retain his title.

Vettel is also the favourite, this time at 15/8 (Ladbrokes), to emerge victorious at the Shanghai International Circuit, where he’s just 11/10 courtesy of William Hill to start from Pole Position.

BetVictor meanwhile, rate Red Bull at 5/4 to be the winning car but arguably the best on offer is the same firm’s generous 9 /4 about Lewis Hamilton securing a podium finish in the McLaren.

Bet of the week: Lewis Hamilton to finish on the podium in the Chinese GP – 9/4 (BetVictor).

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