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We’re down to the last eight in this season’s epic FA Cup journey, and the next stop is Wembley Stadium.
Which quartet will make it to the semi-finals? And who will be the heroes that take them there?
Everything has to be decided this weekend, and Adrian Clarke is back with some more knowledge-based tips…
Middlesbrough v Manchester City – Saturday 11th March, 12:15pm
Drawn at home in a two-horse race, Middlesbrough are being offered at a generous 15/2 to beat Manchester City inside 90 minutes.
It’s a juicy little carrot, but can you see them scoring?
Fans of the Teesside club have been waiting 433 minutes to see their boys last net in Premier League action, so those who make their way to the Riverside will do so in hope, rather than expectation.
Manchester City are not as porous as you might think either. Pep’s boys have kept six clean sheets in their last nine matches.
That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. If deposed number one Claudio ‘The Polo Mint Keeper’ Bravo gets the nod, a shoot-on-sight policy might just pay off for Aitor Karanka’s men! He’s saved just 55% of the shots fired at him this term.
What type of contest will it be?
At this stage you can almost smell the trophy, so I expect a cautious start in the early kick off. Middlesbrough are an ultra-defensive side who will naturally want to keep things tight anyway, so you could consider the 2/1 that’s available for Under 0.5 First Half Goals.
City may have fluffed their lines with a 0-0 against Stoke City in midweek, but I believe they have enough to get the job done here, even if patience may be needed to wear the hosts down.
My picks are X/2 at 16/5, with a 0-2 final score (13/2) catching the eye.
Arsenal v Lincoln City – Saturday 11th March, 5:30pm
They couldn’t, could they?
If you believe the answer is ‘yes they can’ and the giant-killing Imps will turn a disappointing week into a downright disastrous one for Arsenal, then grab the 20/1 on Lincoln City to go through on Saturday night. Inside 90 minutes they are 32/1 shots.
Personally, I’m confident this week’s ‘upset-o-meter’ won’t scale the heights reached by Barcelona against PSG.
The Gunners will feel nerves, but they should have far too much in their locker to avoid the greatest shock in FA Cup history. Given recent results, complacency really shouldn’t come into play. With minds fully focused, I am expecting a performance full of drive and enterprise.
Non-league teams just aren’t used to searing pace or clever movement, so that’s the key to unlocking what’s sure to be a well organised unit.
For value bets I like Theo Walcott to score the opening goal in an Arsenal win (15/4), and 3-0 to Arsenal (23/4).
Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall – Sunday 12th March, 2pm
Emotions will run high when Tottenham host their last ever FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane – and they’re calling this the ‘Harry Kane Derby’ in tribute to the striker’s successful loan spell with the Lions five seasons ago.
As you might expect, the white-hot front man is heavily fancied to add to his soaring tally in this one – and the way he’s banging them in right now you’d have to be tempted by the 5/2 on Kane to plunder at least two goals. He got a treble in Round 5 at Fulham.
I think I speak for all grown-ups when I say let’s hope we avoid a repeat of last weekend’s secret handshake shenanigans, if Kane or Dele Alli score! The midfielder is 51/50 to score anytime, and Kane for the First Goal has been Price Boosted to 9/4.
It’s worth noting that Millwall are on a 17-game unbeaten streak. This may not be the walkover some are expecting, and remarkably Neil Harris’ men have only let in two goals in their last 13 matches. This is a League 1 team that knows how to defend.
Shrewd punters will be eyeing up the Evens for Tottenham to score Under 2.5 goals, and I wouldn’t blame them.
Chelsea v Manchester United – Sunday 12th March, 7:45pm
I fancy Chelsea. With an extra few days’ rest and no travelling to recuperate from, Antonio Conte’s blue machine are worthy favourites at 17/20 to reach the last four without the need for extra time and penalties. United’s Russian away day in the Europa League wasn’t well timed.
Pedro broke the deadlock after just 30 seconds when Manchester United last visited Stamford Bridge in October’s 4-0 drubbing, and he seems to be enjoying the FA Cup this year with four goals in the competition.
The in-form Spaniard is rated a 13/2 chance to score first on Monday night.
As proud holders, Manchester United will make a much better fist of it than they did on their last trip to west London. Jose Mourinho will also be desperate to overcome that embarrassment, so it could be a lively, close-run thing.
So, even without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic I like the Both Teams To Score market, and at 53/50 there’s a spot of value, too.
Home advantage should swing the tie Chelsea’s way though. Right now it’s hard to look past them for the Premier League/FA Cup double.
There are 53 local Grosvenor Casinos in the UK, and all the FA Cup action will be shown live throughout the network.