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Nottingham Forest in the groove for good FA Cup run

A feature of the FA Cup third round was how so many of the top clubs in the Championship succumbed to Premier League opponents. Six of the top nine went out this way, some of them quite heavily, with two of the others (Brighton and Reading) playing each other.

The notable exception was Nottingham Forest, who didn’t just beat supposedly superior visitors West Ham, they positively annihilated them 5-0 to earn another home tie in the fourth round against League One outfit Preston on Friday night.

It is a result, if not a score, we should have seen coming and not just because Hammers boss Sam Allardyce fielded a weakened side which doesn’t look very strong at the best of times.

For Forest are a team in excellent form at the moment, their 4-1 win over Blackburn at the weekend extending a 10-match unbeaten run which stretches back to the end of November.

Boss Billy Davies will feel more comfortable once some of his sidelined defenders are back, but the momentum and confidence gained from such a good run should sustain their promotion challenge and perhaps take them on an exciting cup run – Coral go 80/1 they actually end up lifting the trophy

Preston are doing quite well themselves in the third tier and did well to knock out Championship side Ipswich in Round three, helped in no small part by Joe Garner, who came off the bench to score a hat-trick in the replay.

It’s likely to be an entertaining encounter and the Lancashire club are sure to give a good account of themselves, but Forest (4/6) look too strong and should progress to Round five, maybe 3-1 (14/1).

It’s a shame that some of the most likely one-sided cup ties are being shown on TV this weekend, rather than some potentially great battles.

Arsenal, 1/10, against Coventry, 22/1 (8/1 the draw) falls into the probable no-contest category.

Coventry, who famously beat Spurs in the FA Cup final back in 1987, are doing better than their League One mid-table position suggests following their 10-point deduction.

But even an understrength Arsenal (9/2 joint second favourites with Chelsea to win the competition outright behind 7/2 Manchester City) will surely have too much for the Sky Blues.

Santi Cazorla is 11/10 to be on the scoresheet again after his brace against Fulham at the weekend (maybe Coral should also bet on whether this wonderfully two-footed midfielder will score with his left or his right), while we should not be surprised if Arsene Wenger gives another run-out to Nicklas Bendtner (10/11).

For Coventry, Franck Moussa, scorer of a last minute ‘worldy’ to earn a draw at Preston last Saturday, is 7/2 to shock the Gunners with a goal at any time at the Emirates, 12/1 first or last.