Weblog: The football punter

Give the elbow to FA Cup outsiders

It comes to something when the lads at Lincoln City sit down and watch Arsenal versus Bayern Munich for research purposes rather than just as a piece of midweek entertainment.

Luke Waterfall making notes on how Mats Hummels deals with the threat posed by Theo Walcott is the stuff of parallel universes, isn’t it? Alan Power gleaning tips on weaknesses in Aaron Ramsey’s game. Madness.

The shame of all this lunacy is that the last four of the FA Cup is a short price to be featuring four of the top six teams in the land, so at least let’s enjoy Lincoln and Millwall on their days out at Arsenal and Spurs respectively, a welcome final dash of knockout romance for 2016-17.

Lincoln, who unlike Arsenal have a league title to play for this season, might be tempted to throw in a weakened side against Arsene Wenger, which would be delicious.

After all, they’ve got an FA Trophy double-header against York coming up, closely followed by a trip to Boreham Wood. These trips to North London don’t get any easier.

Anyway, Lincoln are a 35-1 chance. And having been largely outplayed at Burnley (who boast an identical home record to Arsenal) and still won, you’ve got to ask yourself whether the Imps are worth a couple of quid.

Bet of the quarters, however, has got to be Chelsea at home to Manchester United. Mourinho’s men have been riding their luck most of the season and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic elbowed into the long grass, Antonio Conte’s men can win this at a canter.

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Match in Focus

17:00 Su 26Mar ITV

England v Lithuania

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • England have been level at half-time in two of their four qualifying matches
Expert verdict
Bookmakers can’t see past England when they host Lithuania in this World Cup qualifier and even the most pessimistic Three Lions fan would find it hard to make a case for the Baltic nation. Gareth Southgate’s men may need time but should ultimately win and the value could lie with anticipating a draw at half-time with England striking late.