Gunners should advance in repeat of last season’s final

Louis van Gaal takes his Manchester United team to Yeovil Town in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend
Louis van Gaal takes his Manchester United team to Yeovil Town in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend

Always seeking to highlight the romance of the FA Cup, the television companies have selected to show live coverage of matches they desperately hope will throw up major shocks.

However, they look set to be disappointed.

In a repeat of last season’s final Arsenal take on Hull and just as they were at Wembley in May, it’s the Gunners that look likely to be celebrating at the Emirates Stadium, where they’re William Hill’s 1/3 favourites.

The Tigers, 9/1 outsiders with BetVictor, took the 2014 final to extra-time so there could be a few punters tempted to back them at 9/2 courtesy of Stan James to force a replay, especially as Steve Bruce’s charges earned a share of the spoils when the pair met in north London in October.

This though, will be an entirely different occasion. Arsene Wenger’s men have looked far stronger since that Premier League stalemate while the opposite can be said of Hull and the hosts should subsequently be able to make their home advantage count.

They’re 23/20 at betway to defeat City ‘to nil’, 6/1 with bet365 to notch twice without reply and BetVictor quote the Gunners at 20/23 to possess a lead at the end of each half.

Wimbledon stunned Liverpool in the 1988 final but the Dons are unlikely to repeat the feat almost 27 years later.

Admittedly, the Reds, Paddy Power’s 2/9 jollies, have plenty on their plate at present but they’ve shown in their march to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup that they can cope with a busy fixture list.

Brendan Rodgers’ side, however, won’t replenish the Christmas coffers at such slender odds so it’s worth considering a flutter on the pacy Raheem Sterling to break the deadlock at 9/2 (bet365).

Manchester United were mauled 4-1 by League One MK Dons in the League Cup at the start of the campaign but they’ve found a new lease of life and can brush aside more third tier opposition in the shape of Yeovil.

Louis van Gaal’s team are 1/4 (William Hill) to do the business at Huish Park, where handicap them by a couple of goals at a generous 6/4.

Non-league Dover are looking to cause a huge upset as they take on Crystal Palace and BetVictor chalk the Conference outfit up at 7/1 to stun their Premier League opponents.

A change at the helm should revitalise the Eagles though and they look a safe bet at 4/9 via Stan James.

Elsewhere, rate Chelsea at 1/7 to ease past Watford, Manchester City are only marginally bigger at 1/6 with Ladbrokes ahead of their tie against Sheffield Wednesday and the same firm go 2/5 about a Swansea triumph at League Two Tranmere.

Punters on the hunt for upsets meanwhile should keep an eye on several potentially mispriced match-ups.

Sheffield United’s recent cup pedigree makes them an interesting outsider at 9/2 via Stan James to overcome QPR, Paddy Power post an inflated looking 10/3 against West Ham eliminating an Everton side low on confidence and BetVictor’s 8/1 about a victory for buoyant Ipswich at a Southampton outfit set to make changes, looks a little high.

It’s Wild Card Weekend in the NFL as eight teams look to book their places in the divisional play-offs.

Carolina host Arizona tomorrow (Saturday) and it’s the Panthers that are Skybet’s 2/5 favourites to emerge triumphant while bet365 give them 6.5 to cover at 10/11 in the point spread.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers can cover Baltimore’s modest three-point advantage at odds of 10/11 with and Cincinnati Bengals are the pick at 5/6 (William Hill) when receiving a 3.5-point cushion at Indianapolis.

Finally, in Sunday’s late encounter, Paddy Power price Dallas at 21/20 to overhaul Detroit’s seven-point advantage in their Texas showdown.

Bet of the week: Ipswich to beat Southampton – 8/1 (BetVictor).

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