This season’s FA Cup has provided us with shocks aplenty.
Few will forget that amazing Saturday in January when Bradford City came from 2-0 down away at Chelsea to record a stunning 4-2 victory, on the same day that Middlesbrough defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
However, since then the competition has moved on and while a few of the minnows remain in the competition, including Bradford City, there are still three very big names left in the competition at the quarter finals stage. Although it is worth noting that two of them go head to head in what promises to be the biggest FA Cup clash of the year so far.
So this week, we are going to have a look at each of the four FA Cup quarter final games and what we think are the best bets you could make on either of them with our usual sports betting company, Bet365 Sports.
There’s still plenty of time to join Bet365 if you haven’t already – and as a new UK player you’ll be qualified to receive free Bet365 Sports bets – click the link to find out how.
Bradford City v Reading (Saturday 7th March 12:45 Kick Off)
The first game of FA Cup quarterfinal weekend sees the two teams outside the Premier League who were drawn together clash at Valley Parade as Chelsea’s conquerors Bradford City, who reached the Capital One Cup final not so long ago, take on Reading in a game both teams will feel they can win.
Bradford started their run with a 2-1 win away to Halifax Town, followed by a 4-1 win over Dartford to reach Round 3. There they defeated Millwall 4-2 in a replay after drawing the first game 3-3 and then came two stunning victories, 4-2 away to Chelsea and then a 2-0 victory over Sunderland at home.
Phil Parkinson will have his men fired up for this, but Reading, under new manager Steve Clarke will be a tough prospect and they have performed well in the competition thus far too, winning away from home against three top Championship sides to reach the quarterfinal stage.
They defeated Huddersfield 1-0 away in Round 3, followed by 2-1 victories on the road against both Cardiff City and then Derby County to progress into the last eight.
Unusually, the bookmakers have the lower division team as the 6/4 favourites here and given their cup form over the past few years, that looks a decent bet, however I just feel Reading have the experience and knowhow to get the job done here, so I am backing Steve Clarke’s men to win the game at 7/4.
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion (Saturday 7th March 17:30 Kick Off)
The second game on Saturday promises to be one of drama as two of the biggest teams in the Midlands clash for a place in an FA Cup Semi Final. Both teams come into the game in very different mindsets. Aston Villa, despite the appointment of new manager Tim Sherwood, are still struggling to find their form and have lost their last six Premier League clashes, however they have won their last three FA Cup games to reach this stage.
West Brom, also under a new manager in Tony Pulis, are in much better shape with a much stronger run of form, including not conceding a goal in their last four games. The Baggies are certainly the form team here, but as anybody knows with local derby games, the form book can often be tossed out of the window.
Can Aston Villa do it here? Well they can, but much will depend on misfiring strikers like Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor finding their goalscoring touch. However, under Pulis, West Brom have been superb defensively and I can’t see them buckling under too much pressure here.
I fancy this one to require a replay to decide the winner, and I think that means the Baggies will progress after a replay back at the Hawthorns. So I would back the 11/5 available with Bet365 on this one finishing in a draw after 90 minutes.
Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers (Sunday 8th March, 16:00 Kick Off)
According to bookmakers, this is the easiest tie of the round to call, with Liverpool a very firm 1/3 favourite to win the game on Sunday afternoon with Bet365 Sports.
It is hard to argue against that, Liverpool are unbeaten in the Premier League in 13 games now and defeated Manchester City 2-1 last weekend, that on the back of a nightmare trip to Turkey where they lost on penalties to Besiktas to be eliminated from the Europa League.
Blackburn have won one of their last six in the league, but have defeated two Premier League sides in the past two rounds at Ewood Park, Swansea City 3-1 in Round 4 and Stoke City 4-1 in Round 5 to earn a richly deserved crack at unseating Liverpool at Anfield. Gary Bowyer’s young Rovers team does have some Premier League experience in the likes of Paul Robinson, Grant Hanley, Rudy Gestede and David Dunn but otherwise their team is very inexperienced at the highest level.
That said, Liverpool have struggled at home against what people would view as lesser sides, indeed Bolton earned a replay at Anfield before succumbing to the Reds 2-1 at the Reebok Stadium and Blackburn will take heart from that.
However, it’s hard to back against Liverpool here, but at 1/3 for the win, there’s better value in other markets, so I’d back Daniel Sturridge to score first and Liverpool to win 3/1 at a massive 30/1 with Bet365.
Manchester United v Arsenal (Monday 9th March 19:45 Kick Off)
The final game of the weekend actually takes place on Monday night and it is without doubt the biggest game of the FA Cup so far as Old Trafford bears witness to Manchester United taking on Arsenal, 4th taking on 3rd in the Premier League.
Arsenal come into the game in the better form, but Manchester United have an admirable home record in the Premier League, although Arsenal will take heart from their last trip to Manchester where they emerged with a stunning 2-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad.
The bookies have Manchester United as the clear favourites at 11/8, but Arsenal are a 15/8 shot and they will fancy their chances of at least earning a replay from this game. Indeed, I think that given the quality of both sides, this is a game which could be decided by one moment of brilliance.
I do think that defensively, both sides are lacking a little, especially United and if Arsenal can strike first, that could be crucial as it would open United up on the counter.
However, I can’t really call this one anything other than a home win. United look very solid at Old Trafford and despite my misgivings about their defence, the 11/8 on a United home win looks a solid choice here.