FA Cup betting preview: Birmingham to give Chelsea the blues


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The Independent Football

Andre Villas-Boas this week went public with the news that some of the Chelsea players aren't behind him and while it's hardly something we didn't already know, the decision to air his dirty washing in public could backfire spectacularly against Birmingham in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The potential for a shock at Stamford Bridge probably rests heavily on AVB's team selection and how many of his disciples get a starting berth but without the benefit of that information in advance, we think there's some value to be found in the 11/1 quote about Chris Hughton's men.

Birmingham are in great shape right now, performing like a team that belongs in the Premier League, and we're not convinced the price would be so big if their city rivals Aston Villa were the visitors on the Saturday lunchtime. Maybe in the league, but not in the cup.

Villa, of course, were 3-1 winners on this ground over the festive period with a couple of late sucker punches and while we wouldn't go as far as to say that Blues are the equal of their neighbours, at least not in terms of the quality of their personnel, we are willing to assert they are capable of something similar.

The occasional stinker has become habitual for Chelsea over the past 15 months and while Birmingham have a fanbase that can't always be trusted to do the club justice in terms of the numbers in which they follow the team, there's been a bit of magic about their cup run so far with a couple of reaffirming away days at Wolves and Sheffield United where plenty of fun was had.

As such, we're happy to take a leap of faith on a big price and trust that Hughton will instil them with the belief that they can get a result.

Meanwhile, Blackpool are charting a similar path on the back of relegation having recently surged up the Championship table into the promotion reckoning and they also deserve our support at 7/1 against Everton.

The Seasiders aren't the most consistent side over the course of 90 minutes but they are capable of producing flashes of brilliance, the sort of moments that can win you knockout matches without playing particularly well.

Ian Holloway has an abundance of attacking options. They're not necessarily players of the highest calibre but they all bring something different to the table, allowing the manager to mix things up and pose his opponents new problems when necessary. And what they lack in class and pedigree, Holloway makes up for in spirit, which he passes over to them in spades.

We realise Everton are in decent nick at present but their league form counts for little in the cup because the way they grind results out isn't always conducive to knockout football. When you seldom find yourselves more than a goal ahead in any game, the more likely you are to invite a knockout punch in this competition.

We don't doubt that the Toffees will control the game and we're not even sure Holloway will select his strongest XI ahead of a crucial home game against West Ham three days later. But we do think the plan for the Tangerines will probably be to stay within touching distance throughout the course of the afternoon and go for it late on, which is when they tend to have most joy in front of goal.

With that in mind, we'll also supplement our interest with a bet on the Everton/Blackpool double result at 100/1.

Finally, seeing as both of those best prices are available with the same firm, we see no harm in cobbling them together as a double at 95/1.

Now let's find out if there's still such a thing as the magic of the FA Cup!

Recommended bets:

1pt Birmingham to beat Chelsea at 11/1 (Victor Chandler)

1pt Blackpool to beat Everton at 7/1 (Stan James)

0.5pt Everton/Blackpool double result at 100/1 (Bwin)

0.5pt Birmingham & Blackpool double at 95/1 (Stan James)

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB