FA Cup derbies galore including Birmingham’s battle with West Brom
The FA Cup has once again thrown up a fascinating round of fixtures for fans to chew over, including some intriguing local derbies.
Bitter adversaries Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion have the chance to tussle for the first time since 2011, Championship hopefuls Derby County will be aiming to down regional rivals Chesterfield, whilst Sheffield United cross the Pennines to play Preston North End.
Birmingham v West Brom
The Baggies, evens with Coral to win this clash over 90 minutes, clearly have the upper hand against West Midlands foes Birmingham after doing the double over them last time they were both in the top tier.
West Brom hold the head-to-head record with 56 victories, compared to their local competitors’ 35, including six FA Cup triumphs.
Tony Pulis’ side may be in the market for attacking additions, with reports claiming they have made a bid for Wigan Athletic wingman Callum McManaman, but should still have enough quality up top to breach the Birmingham Blues’ backline.
Star striker Saido Berahino has scored five in his last three outings, and is the Baggies’ best chance of troubling their hosts, so back him and fellow frontman Brown Ideye at 9/2 and 6/1 to net first and last respectively.
Anything can happen in a derby, however, so Birmingham are available at 11/4 to secure a morale-boosting scalp, or 12/5 to split the spoils, which would mean a replay. Top attacking threat Clayton Donaldson has grabbed 10 Championship goals this term, and is 2/1 to be on target anytime.
Derby v Chesterfield
In this Derbyshire duel, the Rams are odds-on favourites at 4/7 to emerge victorious after 90 minutes, but have not clashed with League One side Chesterfield since 1986.
Derby, guided by ex-England coach Steve McClaren, have lost just one of their last six fixtures and should pose many problems for the Spireites.
Currently scrapping for promotion to the Premier League, the Rams boast Chris Martin, one of the Championship’s top predators this season. Scotland striker Martin is 10/3 to open the scoring, while loan star Darren Bent is 4/1 to grab a goal last.
Chesterfield, meanwhile, could hope for a draw at 3/1, but have won just one of their last four away outings. Sam Cluclas is 5/1 to make a difference anytime after striking three times in his past two games, while leading marksman Eoin Doyle is 7/4 in the same market.
Preston v Sheffield United
North End and the Blades are already battling in League One this term, but must now grapple in the FA Cup. These two teams already know each other well, having tussled twice in League One’s promotion battle this season.
Sheffield United are 9/4 to triumph, with a draw the same price, after claiming the spoils last time out, but Preston are 6/5 favourites considering home advantage.
The Blades’ last win came against North End, so they will be hoping to get back on track with striker Marc McNulty 2/1 to hit home anytime.
Preston, meanwhile, may have fallen off the pace a little lately after failing to win any of their last four games, but have already navigated their way past Championship side Norwich City in the FA Cup.
Simon Grayson can also count on the services of former Leeds United and Everton forward Jermaine Beckford, who is 5/1 to net the opener.