AVB - A Victory for Birmingham?
As the rumblings behind the scenes at the once great Chelsea FC threaten to de-rail their season the embattled AVB will be hoping the FA Cup can offer a distraction.
Roman Abramovich's £29m gamble looks like it may not pay off and Chelsea are in real danger of not finishing in the Top 4, but they can at least for the moment focus on some silverware with the FA Cup.
Chelsea have won the trophy three times in the last five years, while Birmingham's last cup success came in the League cup.
The rumours of a rift between the players and the manager continue to grow with AVB saying he has the support of the only one who matters at the club, that being their billionaire owner. However that is not likely to sit well with the likes of Frank Lampard and co and this could easily manifest itself on the pitch.
Despite their Championship position it's worth noting that the Brummies are unbeaten in their last 13 games, while Chelsea were dramatically overturned by Everton last weekend. Birmingham managed a 1-0 win last season when these sides met in the Premier League and this is something which will boost the underdogs. Also Birmingham have won five of their last six FA Cup matches away from home.
As it stands, Chelsea are 1/3 to get a victory at Stamford Bridge, but with no John Terry, Ashley Cole and Ramires there will be a certain level of experience missing from the team. Torres and Sturridge will lead the line in place of Drogba who is still on AFCON leave. Daniel Sturridge has scored seven goals in eight FA Cup appearances including six in five starts for Chelsea in the competition and the young starlet is 10/3 to open the scoring.
Chris Houghton has stated that star striker Nikola Zigic will not feature in the game, but should he start you can back him at 10/1 to score first or 7/2 to score at anytime.
The Midlanders have kept four clean sheets in their last five FA Cup matches and with Chelsea not really banging in the goals lately this could be a tight affair and at 6/5 under 2.5 goals looks to be a tempting price.
I can't see Chelsea losing this, but I don't think they are going to steamroll Birmingham and I'd be backing the visitors with a two goal head start on our handicap markets at 17/20. The double chance of Birmingham and draw at 5/2 is another value punt here.