Bristol City at last

February 4th, 2017 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

I was happy enough with nearly forcing a draw last week as Norwich’s comfortable victory over Birmingham all but balanced Newcastle’s FA Cup defeat at Oxford. As I’ve been saying for a few years, the FA Cup is not a betting medium in the early rounds because several teams are looking to exit quietly.

I have no idea how managers get this across to players, though sometimes they simply field a very different team, of course. Leeds are the most obvious recent example, going out to Sutton United before beating Blackburn in the Championship. With so little live football at its disposal the BBC has to promote the competition at every opportunity but people aren’t fooled. Still, at least it means the ‘minnows’ have every chance of further glory.

If Chelsea had scored their penalty against Liverpool last week they would look almost invincible at the top of the Premier League. With no European commitments they are red-hot favourites now and victory over Arsenal in the lunchtime game on Saturday would more or less knock the Gunners out of the race. Whilst I have no strong opinion where Arsene Wenger’s future is concerned (his achievements speak for themselves) I have some Arsenal friends, good judges, who feel the time has come for a change and I just wonder if this will be his last campaign. Much may depend on the Champions League.

The Chelsea match is hard to call and the other teams towards the top will be hoping for a draw. Disappointing though they may have been of late, Liverpool should win at Hull and Manchester City will surely breeze past Swansea. Tottenham will find goals harder to come by against a parsimonious Boro but should still have the edge. No value in these games, of course.

On the other hand, CRYSTAL PALACE may make Sunderland’s plight look desperate indeed. Palace went out of the Cup but Big Sam will work the oracle at Selhurst and the 2-0 win at Bournemouth was a fine effort. I do not see Palace being in any real danger and the 4/6 in this game, though hardly generous, will have to do.

Southampton battered Swansea in the second half on Tuesday night but threw the game away by pushing too many men forward and conceding a goal on the break. They are not genuine odds-on chances against West Ham but may just have the edge and Sofiane Bouffal may be the star man. He is very tricky indeed and, whilst the First Scorer market makes little appeal, he looked electric on Tuesday and is still fresh after missing Morocco’s brief Africa Cup of Nations sally.

One can only fear for Gianfranco Zola if Birmingham succumb to a much-improved Fulham at St Andrews, which could easily happen, while how Mick McCarthy clings on at Ipswich is the eighth wonder of the world but good luck anyway. They will need it against Reading.

The only other bet apart from Palace is BRISTOL CITY to get going at long last by beating bottom club Rotherham in the Championship. City have been very disappointing but have little difficulty in scoring goals and may knock a few in here. The ‘minus one’ market available with Wilson’s has been good to me sometimes and I feel City should win this fairly comfortably, though the main bet is simply a win by any score and Hill’s and Sky Bet are going 6/10.

CRYSTAL PALACE 20 units at 4/6 to beat Sunderland

BRISTOL CITY 40 units at 6/10 to beat Rotherham

BRISTOL CITY 12 units at 5/4 to beat Rotherham, giving them a goal.