Sunday's FA Cup Fifth Round Previews
Sunday has three FA Cup fifth round games to get stuck into, all involving Premier League sides. As the official betting partner William Hill will be offering a wide range of betting opportunities, a match winner offer and video previews to all the big games:
Crawley Town v Stoke City
12:00 - live on ESPN
Match betting: Crawley Town 13/5 Draw 5/2 Stoke EVS
The action kicks-off at 12pm live on ESPN when Tony Pulis takes his Stoke side to Broadfield Stadium to take on League Two promotion hopefuls Crawley Town. In a busy period for the Potters, changes will be on the cards following Thursday's disappointing 1-0 defeat to Valencia at the Britannia. Tony Pulis will have one eye on next week's return leg at the Mestalla and Crawley manager Steve Evans will hope that a few off the opposing players will also have that attitude.
The Red Devils are not to be taken lightly at Broadfield, they are currently fifth in the league and they have not conceded a single goal in knocking out Bury, Redbridge, Bristol City and Hull on the way to a second successive appearance in the last 16. Unfortunately for manager Evans after losing his top striker Matt Tubbs to Bournemouth in the transfer window his replacement strike pairing of Billy Clarke and Karl Hawley are both cup-tied. This could lead to their downfall against a Stoke side renowned for their cup performances, this highlighted by their Wembley appearance last year when they lost out to eventual winners Manchester City
Despite Crawley Town's giant killing credentials it is hard to look past the value of a Stoke victory. There are 60 league places separating these two sides and therefore the Evens on offer is just too generous not to take. Stoke may have won just one of their last seven outings, but with Crawley's lack of strikers a narrow win for the away side looks inevitable. Goals could be at a premium though as five of Stoke's last seven matches have gone under 2.5, as have seven of Crawley's last ten and can be backed at 8/11. However if you're looking to extract maximum value out of this game the 11/5 about Stoke to win to nil would be where I would have my money.
Stevenage v Tottenham Hotspur
14:00 - live on ITV1
Match betting: Stevenage 15/2 Draw 9/2 Tottenham 3/10
The midweek Champions League fixtures helped Harry Redknapp take a brief spell out of the limelight and gave his Spurs side a chance to reflect upon their latest achievement in the Premier League. Tottenham's 5-0 demolition of Alan Pardew's Newcastle side demonstrated to everyone that they have earned the right and to be competing with the likes of Manchester City and United for the English Premier League.
A week of rest has passed and a FA Cup trip to League One hosts Stevenage awaits them at the Lamex Stadium. A place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs and don't expect the potential England manager to take his foot off the pedal. Despite the 47 places separating these two sides in the football ladder that gap has been rapidly reducing. Gary Smith is the new manager at the helm of a club that is chasing three successive promotions and currently lies sixth in the league. Stevenage's success has been based on an ethos of defend first and this has been demonstrated in the FA Cup with The Boro having not conceded in their four previous games. They have only lost one game at home this season, a 1-0 defeat to Leyton Orient, and will be confident of causing one of the top teams in the country problems at Broadhall Way.
Six of Stevenage's last eight matches have involved under 2.5 goals. At 23/20 this could be worth a look on Sunday especially if Harry decides to rotate his squad in preparation for the North London derby the following weekend. Squad rotation caused problems in Spurs' last FA Cup tie against Watford and if the likes of Adebayor, Bale and Parker are rested then don't expect the free following football that we have become accustomed to.
Despite all the positives mentioned above it is hard to see anything other than a Tottenham victory. Harry has had time to prepare for Sunday's game and will feel that he has a team that deserves to take some silverware back to White Hart Lane this season. Tottenham are experts at dispatching lower league opposition having only lost one of their past thirty three meetings with lower league opposition and Jermaine Defoe's return could spell disaster for Gary Smith's men. The England striker is 3/1 about first scorer and 8/11 for anytime and I fully expect to see his name on the scoresheet.
Liverpool v Brighton
16:30 - live on ESPN
Match betting: Liverpool 1/4 Draw 5/1 Brighton 9/1
In the final installment of this weekend's FA Cup fifth round ties Brighton and Hove will try their luck in a trip to face Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool side at Anfield. This game is subject to the William Hill Match Winner offer that involves none other than man of the moment Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan talisman has found it tough to stay away from controversy but having missed eight games due to his lengthy suspension this FA Cup tie represents a perfect opportunity for the Liverpool number seven to get back his match sharpness. We have enhanced the price from 9/2 to a generous 6/1 about Luis Suarez to be an anytime scorer and receive a card during the match.
Liverpool's Carling Cup success this season has already guaranteed an outing at Wembley and a quarter final appearance in the FA Cup would be their first since they won the trophy in 2005-2006. The Seagulls were one of the sides that were defeated along the way to their Carling Cup final that takes place next weekend and manager Gus Poyet will hope that his brand of attacking, positive football can give the Championship side a chance at Anfield.
Gus Poyet's club have not lost in any competition so far in 2012, winning six and drawing four of the 10 league and cup games. They have struggled at times in league but are still poised to make a playoff charge, with only two points separating them from the sixth and final playoff spot. Their victory over top-flight Newcastle United in the fourth round will have given them the belief that they can win against the Reds.
Andy Carroll is likely to start and should cause problems for the south coast minnows. 10/11 about anytime and 7/2 for first scorer looks decent value in a game that looks likely to produce goals. Over 2.5 total match goals is as short as 8/13 and therefore the 4/5 on offer for Liverpool to score in both halves appears the more sensible punt.