FA Cup last 16 skirmishes featuring Chelsea, Man City, West Ham
Holly Thackeray | February 19, 2016
The return of the FA Cup, now in its fifth round, will provide the perfect accompaniment to punters’ Sunday roasts, with a terrific pair of televised ties to enjoy, as West Ham United visit Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea host Manchester City in a clash of the titans.
Blackburn Rovers v West Ham United
- FA Cup, fifth round
- Sunday, February 21st
- Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
- Ewood Park, Blackburn
- Live on BT Sport 2
Hammers ready for Rovers raid
Five of the last meetings between these two teams have ended evenly, so odds of 11/5 from Coral for a sixth straight draw in 90 minutes are generous, though top-tier team West Ham should be confident of nipping Blackburn Rovers’ FA Cup run in the bud.
Slaven Bilic’s Hammers delivered a deadly blow to Liverpool last time out in this treasured tournament, and will not want to fall here against Championship toilers, so are a 13/10 chance of a triumph at Ewood Park.
Croatian coach Bilic is tipped to name a strong starting XI in Lancashire, with a coveted place in the quarter-finals at stake.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Bilic told press: “We don’t need to rest players, we will play our strongest team because it is an important game and we want to win.
“Blackburn are a huge club… it will be a massive test for us,” added the Irons boss.
“And the FA Cup should remain as the greatest cup competition, it is fantastic. We should do whatever necessary to keep it special.”
Blackburn handed boost ahead of cup encounter
Though, Rovers are unlikely to go quietly into the night, having had success at this stage before, most recently shocking Stoke City in this competition last season.
Blackburn boss Paul Lambert has odds of 21/10 to dump out another Premier League club, and his case is bolstered by his side’s recent 3-0 drubbing of Fulham.
Yet, West Ham are justly the odds-on 1/2 favourites to qualify for the quarters, despite injury concerns, with star man Dimitri Payet still in sparkling form and 6/1 to open scoring for a second consecutive match.
While, wing wizard Michail Antonio once bagged a brace against the Lancashire club for former side Nottingham Forest, and is 6/4 to strike anytime again.
As for Rovers’ forward threats, Jordan Rhodes replacement Tony Watt, on loan from Charlton Athletic, is 11/4 to grab a goal anytime, with midfielder Ben Marshall a fantastic 5/1 in the same market.
Chelsea v Manchester City
- FA Cup, fifth round
- Sunday, February 21st
- Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
- Stamford Bridge, London
- Live on BBC 1
Can Hiddink give City the Blues?
Manchester City will arrive in west London for their FA Cup wrangle with Chelsea on the back of two Premier League losses, seeking a revival in form and fortune as the business end of the season approaches.
The Blues may be missing injured captain John Terry, leaving them sparse in defence, but they have shown a willingness to battle under interim gaffer Guus Hiddink, with just one defeat in their last 13 across all competitions.
Chelsea have, of course, been FA Cup specialists in recent times, notably lifting the trophy previously with Hiddink in 2009, so are odds-on 20/23 favourites to sink the Citizens while they are down, or a better value 11/4 to win in 90 mins and both teams score.
“The FA Cup is a special trophy for Chelsea”
Stand-in skipper Branislav Ivanovic highlighted Chelsea’s desire for this trophy, stating: “Chelsea are used to picking up silverware so when you don’t, you use it as extra motivation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“With each trophy you win, you just want more. We hope we will still get to experience a special feeling in May. The FA Cup is a special trophy for Chelsea.”
Helping the Blues’ chances has been the return to form of two Spain internationals in Pedro Rodriguez and Brazil-born Diego Costa, with the recently potent pair 11/4 and 8/1 to score anytime and last respectively, while January signing Alexandre Pato still seems far away from a start (but is 5/4 in the anytime market should he finally feature).
City cup record a card up Pellegrini’s sleeve
Meanwhile, Manuel Pellegrini’s men will take heart in their recent FA Cup record against these London hosts, having ousted the Blues from this competition on their last two attempts.
Man City’s defence may be leaking goals galore, but their strikers are firing on all cylinders, as Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho (2/1 in the anytime market) just keep hitting the target despite their team’s troubles.
Electric Aguero in particular will be seeking to unsettle Chelsea, despite reports Pellegrini plans to test youth, and is 5/1 to fire in first for the second time against the Blues this term.