Moyes and O’Neill prove English can be excellent
With all the doom and gloom surrounding the state of English football and the FA Cup in particular it comes as a refreshing change to see David Moyes and Martin O'Neill, the two greatest exponents of 'British' football, come head-to-head in the FA Cup fifth round.
In the days of astronomical transfer fees and an influx of foreign players coming to the Premier League, Moyes and O'Neill have found a way to buck the trend and create teams predominantly made up of English stars and it has worked to great effect.
And it comes as no small surprise that out of England's 24 man squad that faced Spain in midweek just under a third of the players belonged to either Everton or Aston Villa.
O'Neill's Aston Villa squad is the shining example of what can be done on a limited budget and with astute transfers as they look set to usurp both Chelsea and Arsenal in the Premier League Champions League race. What's more they do it playing football that excites the crowd with great width, lightening pace and generally getting the basics right.
And you have to fancy the Villans to put in another spirited away performance at Goodison Park when they face Everton on Sunday, despite the big loss of their targetman Emile Heskey who aggravated an achilles injury playing for England in midweek.
It means John Carew has chance to reclaim his place up-front and renew his partnership with the ever-dangerous Gabriel Agbonlahor, while James Milner and Ashley Young have someone to aim for from the wings.
Carew, one of a minority of foreign players at Villa, looks good value at 7/1 to score the first goal of the game but he will know better than anyone that he needs one hell of a performance to part Everton's centre back duo Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott - a partnership Moyes puts amongst the best in the world.
As for Everton, their biggest issue may once again be the lack of a recognised top class striker as Jo is cup-tied and Yakubu is still out injured, so it should be Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini to start in attack.
It's sure to be a hard day for the two attacking midfielders but, if Mikel Arteta can capitalise on last week's sensational performance in which he provided chance after chance against Bolton, then Cahill and Fellaini's life is made a lot easier.
However, with what is on show it is impossible to separate the sides, making the 11/5 about a draw look the best option, while 11/2 about 1-1 is interesting.
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Ultimately though I believe Villa have enough to progress, even if it has to be back in Birmingham, and should be backed at 5/6 to make their first FA Cup quarter final since 2000.
On the other available betting markets for this massive game, of which there are 38 in total, there looks to be a banker in the 11/10 about more than twelve corners in the match.
With the Toffees favouring a direct system and specialising in set-pieces, and Villa running at pace down the lines, there should be corners and in plentiful supply.
What is an absolute certainty though, is that when these two sides line up the FA Cup will have a glimpse of its former self and what a great sight that should be.