No rout for United
Tipster Dave Tindall with his latest betting column and best wagers for the weekend football action.
By Dave Tindall
Last Updated: 15/02/13 12:33pm
We're down to the last 16 in the FA Cup (well, 17, given that Chelsea and Brentford are still to decide their fourth round tie) although Sky Bet basically make it a five-horse race now. The two Manchester sides share favouritism at 5/2, ahead of 9/2 Chelsea, 11/2 Arsenal and 6/1 Everton. After that you have to go way back in the betting to find Wigan at 40/1 and they're followed by 66/1 Reading, 80/1 Middlesbrough, Leeds, 100/1 Huddersfield, Millwall, 125/1 Blackburn, 200/1 MK Dons, Barnsley, 400/1 Oldham, 750/1 Brentford, Luton. Sky Bet also have a Name The Finalists market and make a Man Utd v Man City final the most likely outcome at 11/4. If you followed this column's advice to back Man Utd at 6/1 and Everton at 12/1, the dream no-lose Man Utd v Everton final is priced at 13/2.
After the adrenalin rush of a Champions League clash away to Real Madrid, is there a chance Manchester United might be a little flat when they host Reading in the FA Cup on Monday night? Sky bet don't think so and make United just 2/9 to win, while Reading are 9/1 to pull off a shock. The draw is 5/1. There is a case for Sir Alex Ferguson's men just doing enough though so how about a repeat of the narrow 1-0 win they scored over West Ham in their third round replay. The expectation is for lots of United goals with perhaps Reading throwing one in too but United's defence is looking meaner in recent weeks so 1-0 at 10/1 looks decent value. Also cover 2-0 because if it does get to that scoreline Sir Alex will be happy to close the game down given all the key games down the line. Talking of which, United have been cut to 9/1 to win the Champions League after their 1-1 first leg draw at Real Madrid.
Oldham shocked Liverpool in round four so now can they take the scalp of the Reds' Merseyside neighbours Everton? The League One outfit are 13/2 to win Saturday's FA Cup showdown in 90 minutes with the Toffees 1/3 and the draw 4/1. I think Everton will ultimately book their place in the quarter-finals but the Latics might just give their fans more to cheer about first. As they did against Liverpool, Oldham's best chance is to come out flying and hurt Everton early on. There's a few ways we could back that idea but perhaps the best is the 7/2 about both sides scoring in the first half. That would have been a winner in each of Oldham's last three games (including against Liverpool) and Everton have the firepower to respond quickly if the League One side stun them early.
Liverpoool have managed just one win in six in Sunday fixtures played after Europa League games. Four of those have been draws so that could be a good play in the Anfield clash against Swansea. Since the Welsh side returned to the top flight they've played Liverpool four times and the Merseysiders haven't managed a single win. The Swans drew 0-0 in this fixture last year and earlier this season stunned the home crowd by knocking Liverpool out of the Capital One Cup after a deserved 3-1 victory. There's a feeling that Swansea may have one eye on next weekend's final but surely that's counter-balanced by Liverpool having a long trip to Russia in midweek. The draw pays over 3/1 and that is well worth a punt.
After grinding out a 12-6 victory over Ireland, England are on course for the Grand Slam and Sky Bet make them just 5/6 to do it. To achieve that Stuart Lancaster's men need to score home wins over France (Feb 23rd) and Italy (Mar 10th) before what would be a thrilling finale against Wales in Cardiff on March 16th - especially if the Welsh are still in with a shout of the Six Nations title themselves. England are 1/5 to win the Six Nations but Ireland at 11/2 and the Welsh at 6/1 are still considered realistic threats. France are still pointless after defeats to Italy and Wales and they're now 100/1 to win the trophy but just 100/30 to land the wooden spoon for finishing rock bottom.
* Also check the golf section for Dave's weekly betting previews. He's tipped winners at 55/1 (Jamie Donaldson), 25/1 (Phil Mickelson) and Dustin Johnson (14/1) already this season