Friday, February 25, 2011

Wembley beckons, but who will prevail? - Betting News with Betfred


It is the first domestic cup final of the English season on Sunday and Birmingham City will be out to upset the strongly fancied Arsenal, and give their fans something to really cheer about.

For Blues fans it has been an indifferent season, but the cup competitions have given them cause for enjoyment. Getting to a Wembley final is a major boost for any side, and provides them with some relief from the weekly rigours of a season long battle to avoid relegation, but the football betting market makes them outsiders at 6/1 to win the trophy in 90 minutes, or 11/4 to lift the trophy.

Arsenal fans will see this Carling Cup final as a great chance to end five long years without a trophy – a fact that Manchester United and Chelsea fans laud over them every season.

The loss of Theo Walcott to injury along with serious concerns over the fitness of skipper Cesc Fabregas, sustained in Arsenal's midweek win over Stoke, is without a doubt a massive blow to the Gunners, but there is no doubting their attacking qualities even without them.

It could be a question of what side Arsene Wenger puts out at Wembley, as in recent seasons he has stuck with youth for the Carling Cup.

With so many games coming thick and fast for the Gunners, Wenger could be tempted to rest one or two of his star players, and thus give the Blues a real fighting chance of lifting their first major trophy since the League Cup in 1963. However, Arsenal remain strong 8/15 favourites to prevail.

For Birmingham, goalscoring has been their problem all season, and they brought in the experienced Obafemi Martins on loan during the January transfer window, in an attempt to solve that problem.

But Alex McLeish's trump card at Wembley could be the giant Serbian striker Nikola Zigic, who is 9/1 in the football odds to score the first goal of the game.

It has been well known for years that Arsenal struggle against balls put into the box and with an inexperienced keeper between the sticks then the 6ft 8in striker could pose massive problems.

My Tip of the Weekend:

Birmingham have a real cup pedigree about them this season and they could get one over on an Arsenal side who are facing a hectic schedule. There is a lot of pressure on Wenger and his players to deliver a first trophy since the FA Cup in 2005, and with the Club chasing honours in three other competitions, a combination of fatigue and expectation may well may play a factor on Sunday. A 1-0 win for the Blues priced at 12/1 with Betfred looks a value bet.

Sunday 27th February: Arsenal v Birmingham, kick-off 4pm, live on Sky Sports 1.

By Drew Swainston
(Guest writer from Betfred on behalf of Beer Footy and Birds!)

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