Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 13 February 2010

Spotting the FA Cup Upsets

There's a few nice FA Cup matchups today and a few potential upsets on the line.

Southampton host Portsmouth to kickoff the 5th round today. A big rivalry on the south coast, the Saints are a team in form and already booked their place at Wembley for the St Johnstone's Paint Trophy. They have overcome a 10 point deduction and are pushing for the League One playoffs, playing very well under Alan Pardew. They have a goalscorer up front in Richie Lambert who you can expect to cause the Portsmouth defence a lot of problems today.

Pompey have had all their problems off the field this season and it's affected them on the pitch. Manager Avram Grant is frustrated by the situation, the players heads have gone down and it's just a matter of time before relegation. There's not enough players giving their all for their team because a lot of them as they look to jump ship. Southampton are more hungry and I expect them to want this more than Portsmouth. An attacking formation and if they go at Portsmouth from the start, we could have a third tier club in the quarter finals of the FA Cup this season. It's live on TV for in-play betting, but pre-match odds of 2/1 are worth taking.

Derby host Birmingham in a Midlands derby. The Rams have found their form recently, especially at home, beating Nottingham Forest and Newcastle in their last two games at Pride Park. While Derby were beating the then-Championship leaders 3-0 midweek, Birmingham went down 2-0 at struggling West Ham. The Blues seem to have hit their peak, but with their Premier League status assured manager Alex McLeish can focus on the cup. There's no reason why he won't start with a strong lineup and with a good recent history against Derby they will feel they can get back to winning ways today. My heart's saying Derby today, my head's saying Birmingham. My money is staying in my pocket for this one.

Instead I'm looking at West Brom to win at Reading. West Brom have found their form recently and even beat Scunthorpe 2-0 midweek despite putting in a poor performance. A sign of a good team. Yes, Reading have had a good cup run this weekend but I'm expecting the Baggies to come through in this tie.

The evening game sees Manchester City host Stoke City, also live on TV. This is before venues are reversed and they meet in the Premier League midweek. As for today, expect City to win against a well-disciplined Stoke side provided they put the effort in. As second favourites for the Cup and success expected with the money put into the club, they should fancy their chances this year.

Chelsea are my pick for the cup this year. It's easy to say after both Manchester United and Arsenal have been eliminated. But they are last year's defending champions, a stronger and more settled side than any other in the competition. A trip to the Eastlands in the quarter finals is the only troublesome matchup I can see for them from now on. Take Chelsea to win the FA Cup now while they're still odds-against.

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