FA Cup Weekend – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

talkSPORT’s chief football correspondent ALEX CROOK looks ahead to a weekend of FA Cup action…

🔴 SUNDERLAND v NEWCASTLE UNITED ⚫ (SATURDAY)

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There is little dispute that the most eagerly-anticipated tie of FA Cup third round weekend comes from the Stadium of Light as bitter north east enemies Sunderland and Newcastle clash for the first time in almost eight years.

Absence definitely will not make the heart grow fonder and police on Wearside have put out a plea for both sets of fans to behave themselves.

Despite being a division below their neighbours, Sunderland will be buoyed by their recent run of form in this fixture, which has seen them string together a nine-match unbeaten run.

Newcastle have also fallen at the first hurdle in the FA Cup in each of the last four seasons, including shocks at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday and Cambridge during Eddie Howe’s reign as manager.

Howe also had a poor record in the competition at Bournemouth so this is a nightmare draw for him, particularly given his side’s dismal run of one in eight games.

Given the rivalry between the two clubs, Howe almost has to name a strong line-up so while I am strongly tempted to back Sunderland to win at 10/3 with starsports.bet, instead I will take my chances with Black Cats talisman and 12-goal top-scorer Jack Clarke to score at any time at 14/5 with starsports.bet.

MIDDLESBOROUGH 🔴 v ASTON VILLA 🟣 (SATURDAY)

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Seven-time winners Aston Villa travel to Championship Middlesbrough on Saturday hoping to avoid falling victim to a giant-killing at the hands of the 1997 runners-up.

Villa have lost nine of their last 10 FA Cup ties and are sure to rotate their squad with a Premier League top four finish and Europa Conference League glory in their sights.

Unai Emery is also yet to win a domestic cup tie as Villa manager and his side suffering a humiliating loss at home to League One Stevenage last season.

However, Boro are sure to have one eye on the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final at home to Chelsea on Tuesday night so I am siding with Villa to prevail.

Emery must be tempted to rest main marksman Ollie Watkins and therefore Jhon Duran to score first at 7/2 with starsports.bet looks good value.

ARSENAL 🔴 v LIVERPOOL 🔴 (SUNDAY)

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This is a mouth-watering tie worthy of being the final itself and both Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp would have preferred an easy third round assignment.

It is arguably more important for the Gunners to emerge victorious after back-to-back Premier League defeats that have seriously dented their hopes of competing for the title.

Liverpool in contrast have opened up a handy five-point lead at the top thanks to a sensational display from Mo Salah in Monday’s comfortable victory at home to Newcastle as the ‘Egyptian King’ signed off for African Nations Cup duty in stunning style.

The team sheets will be all-important for punters but I have a hunch Arsenal’s line-up may be stronger than their visitors as it is not unusual for Klopp to field dramatically weakened teams in the FA Cup.

If that happens Arsenal to win at 1/1 with starsports.bet will be a lot shorter come kick-off time so it is worth getting your money on early.

Mikel Arteta famously never rests Bukayo Saka and the England winger is in good goalscoring form. Saka to score the first goal is 11/2 with starsports.bet.

🔵 WIGAN ATHLETIC v MANCHESTER UNITED 🔴 (MONDAY)

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No Premier League manager needs a win this weekend more than the beleaguered Erik ten Hag.

Manchester United’s shocking record of 14 defeats in their last 28 games in all competitions means the spotlight is firmly on the Dutchman, especially with new minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe sniffing around the club’s Carrington training ground and Old Trafford this week.

On paper this should be a routine win for United against 2013 cup winners Wigan, who are now siting just above the relegation places in League One, but nothing has come easy for Manchester United this season.

This competition is now the Red Devils’ only chance of silverware and presents them with an opportunity to salvage their sorry season so I am expecting ten Hag to name a near full-strength team.

Rasmus Hojlund will be hoping to go on a scoring spree after finally getting off the mark in the Premier League against Aston Villa on Boxing Day only to miss United’s subsequent defeat at Nottingham Forest through illness.

The Dane is part of my build-a-bet of United to win by two goals, over 7.5 corners in the game and Hojlund to score at any time at 8.23/1 with star sports.bet

ALEX CROOK

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BACK Jack Clarke to score at any time 1pt at 14/5 (⭐ 


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BACK Jhon Duran to score first 1pt at 7/2 (⭐


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BACK Arsenal to win 1.5pts at 1/1 (⭐


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BACK Bukayo Saka to score first 1pt at 11/2 (⭐


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BACK Manchester United to win by two goals, over 7.5 corners in the game and Hojlund to score at any time 0.5pts at 8.23/1 with starsports.bet

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Author: Eugene Morris