Ah, the glamour that is the Third Round of the FA Cup is upon us once again.
Who among us will struggle to get a bit of shut-eye tonight with the thought of Colchester’s visit to Preston or Scunthorpe’s clash with Barnsley? There are 32 games up for decision, or seven by the time the weather has its say, but I’m only looking at the best of them because it’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve a punch to make. (3pm Saturday unless stated)
ASTON VILLA V BLACKBURN ROVERS
THESE two will be sick of the sight of each other by the end of January, with the pair facing each other in the semi-final of the Carling Cup too. So, with that in mind, it’ll be a draw to make it four meetings in a month.
Weir prediction: Aston Villa 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
Paddy Power odds: 8-13 Aston Villa, 13-5 Draw, 5/1 Blackburn.
middlesbrough v man city
IT’S only 18 months or so since Boro hammered City 8-1 in the Premier League but a lot of water has flowed past the Riverside since then. Under Gordon Strachan, Boro’s home form has been about as good as Macauley Culkin’s, while City are about to dominate football for the rest of time, if we’re to believe the likes of Garry Cook. Sadly, I can’t see a shock here, unless Roberto Mancini is fired after the game for not meeting expectations.
Weir prediction: Middlesbrough 0 Man City 2
Paddy Power odds: 9-2 Middlesbrough, 11-4 Draw, 8/13 Man City.
nottM forest v |birmingham city
In my Big Boy’s Book of FA Cup Stories, the words ‘banana’ and ‘skin’ feature quite heavily. A once great club, beginning to claw it’s way back to the big time, against the in-form side in the Premier League. Could be a cracking game, that could only be improved by having Huw Johns do the commentary.
Weir prediction: Nottm Forest 2 Birmingham 1
Paddy Power odds: 19/10 Forest, 23-10 Draw, 11/8 Birmingham.
sunderland v barrow
THEY may need a barrow parked in front of the goal as the non-League side take on the Premier League outfit. Mind you, that may depend on whether Steve Bruce plays Darren Bent as he appears to be the only Sunderland player vaguely capable of hitting the target.
Weir prediction: Sunderland 5 Barrow 0
Paddy Power odds: 1/7 Sunderland, 6/1 Draw, 20/1 Barrow.
reading v liverpool
Reading chairman John Madejski made his fortune forming Auto Trader and then flogging it for vast sums of cash. While many had predicted that Liverpool’s gasket had been well and truly blown, the return of Fernando Torres has breathed new life into the Reds’ league campaign.
But with two less than careful owners in the backseat and a navigator who doesn’t seem to know where he’s going, would it surprise you if Reading threw a spanner in the works? Yes, it would.
Weir prediction: Reading 1 Liverpool 4.
Paddy Power odds: 7/1 Reading, 3/1 Draw, 4/9 Liverpool.
tottenham v |peterborough
I was driving along the other day behind a rather grubby white van that had ‘Harry Redknapp’s Blue and White Army’ scraped in the grime. Never got a chance to check the tax, but I’m sure it was grand. Spurs seem to be becoming the team other than their own that they want to watch, but a march to league glory is a little bit away just yet for this army.
But on their day they can beat anyone so the FA Cup could well be on its way to White Hart Lane and Peterborough won’t stand in their way.
Weir prediction: Tottenham 4 Peterborough 0
Paddy Power odds: 1-6 Tottenham, 11/2 Draw, 16/1 Peterborough.
man utd v leeds
Fergie has a bit of an annoying habit of fielding teams that are, shall we say, a tad on the weak side when they are up against minnows from a lower division.
Leeds though are still a big fish with the potential to sink their gnashers into the backside of their most-hated rivals.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford will be incredible and the history between the two sides will ensure that at least one match this weekend will fulfil the ‘blood and thunder cup tie’ cliche.
Michael Owen to be given a run-out and to seal win for the Red Devils.
Weir prediction: Manchester Utd 3 Leeds Utd 1.
Paddy Power odds: 2/9 Man Utd 5/1 Draw Leeds Utd 11/1
chelsea v watford
Hornets are not suited to the wintry weather and you fear that they are going to get a terrible swatting on Sunday.
Even though the Blues may field Kerry Dixon and Micky Droy up front, they’ll still be far too good for Watford.
Weir prediction: Chelsea 4 Watford 1
Paddy Power odds: 1/7 Chelsea, 13/2 Draw, 16/1 Watford.
west ham v arsenal
THE one thing you can guarantee from this game is that there will be footage of Trevor Brooking scoring against the Gunners from the 1980 Final.
We can only hope that this game is more interesting than Brooking although expect Arsene Wenger to field the Under-12 side. They’ll still win.
Weir prediction: West Ham 1 Arsenal 2
Paddy Power odds: 9/2 West Ham, 11/4 Draw, 8/13 Arsenal.