The FA Cup returns on Saturday with two quarter-final ties taking place, both of which feature genuine contenders for the tournament outright.
At 12:15, struggling Middlesbrough host Manchester City at the Riverside. The Teessiders have floundered in recent months, with a run of 10 Premier League games without a win seeing them drop into the bottom three.
City, who are the 3/1 joint favourites for trophy, were frustrated in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Stoke but that result extended their recent streak to 10 games without defeat.
This match will mark the first time Boro have played a top flight side in this year’s competition and they are 15/2 for the win and 17/4 to go through. Aitor Karanka is likely to rest some of his regulars, meaning his fringe players may get a chance to prove themselves.
Opposition coach Pep Guardiola is also likely to rotate but will see the FA Cup as a genuine chance to win silverware so is unlikely to drastically experiment. An away victory is 2/5, while the draw which will force a replay is 7/2.
Goals have been hard to come by for Boro but their staunch defending always gives them a chance. It could be a cagey affair but City should just have enough and an away win to zero at 11/10 could well be on the cards.
The other match rings of an old-fashioned cup tie as 16/5 FA Cup outright hopefuls Arsenal host non-league Lincoln at 17:30. The Gunners’ Champions League exit on Tuesday means this competition is their only real chance of silverware while for the Imps, the fairytale just rolls on.
Arsene Wenger looks seriously under pressure but having already beaten unheralded Sutton, his side’s price of 2/35 shows just how well-fancied they are, even with the expected wholesale changes.
Lincoln defeated Burnley in the fifth round and their players will surely see this game as a chance to put themselves in the shop window.
Despite the gap between these sides in the English football pyramid, this is unlikely to be as one-sided as it looks on paper so expect a tight one early on, before the Gunners stretch clear in the closing stages.
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