Giant killers Middlesbrough have another big club in their sights in the FA Cup Fifth Round. Boro try to upsets the odds again at Arsenal. Can they do it? Find it with lee's free picks.
Middlesbrough’s reward for knocking the Premier League champions out of the FA Cup, is a tie against the cup holders Arsenal at The Emirates this weekend in the fifth round.
The Gunners will be hoping they can reignite that love affair they had with FA Cup Finals they enjoyed in the late 90s and early 2000s when they featured in the showpiece match five years out of eight, winning four of them.
You can’t help but think from Boro’s point of view this can only be a distraction from a season that looks increasingly like it will end with a tilt at Premier League football next season. If they are beaten in London on Sunday, I don’t think many at the club will be too upset.
Arsene Wenger’s long wait for silverware ended with the win over Hull City at Wembley last May and while the Premier League and Champions League are out of reach, this represents their best chance of keeping the trophy cleaner busy.
Their form has been very good of late and they leapt into a two goal lead against struggling Leicester on Tuesday night only to be pegged back and put under the cosh by the Foxes. Twitter was full of Gunners’ fans blowing sighs of relief at the full time whistle and that is a good example of why backing them at short prices can be bad for you heart!
One thing you can be pretty sure of is that they will score. They have managed 51 goals in 18 home games in all competitions, which is just short of averaging three a game. Tottenham, Manchester United, Southampton (twice) and Besiktas have limited them to just one goal, but the last time they failed to score was almost a year ago to the day when they lost to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Their top-scorer is Alexis Sanchez, but he has been in the wars recently and could be put on the bench for this match and used as an impact sub if needed. If it was down to Sanchez he’d play every minute of every game, but it’s worth checking team news before backing him to score. If he does play from the start 2.2 (6/5) is too big against Championship opposition when he has scored 12 against Premier League defenders. If he doesn’t play Mesut Ozil is the bet. He has three in four and will be too tricky for Boro. He is 3.75 (11/4).
As I said Aitor Karanka’s team are heading towards the top flight and are on a run of one defeat in 19, including that win over Manchester City. That loss was away from home at Ipswich and they have only conceded one goal in their last seven since then, strangely that was at bottom club Blackpool on Tuesday.
The remarkable win over City and the clean sheet was arguably helped by Manuel Pellegrini and Co's late arrival back from the much publicised warm weather trip and I’m not sure Arsenal will be as unprepared. The question is can Boro repeat that effort at the Emirates?
If you’re looking for a goal scorer bet, Kike and Patrick Bamford are the two I would look at. Both are 5.0 (4/1) to score in the match, with Bamford on a run of three in his last four games while the Spaniard has two in four, both netted in the win in Manchester.
This game is all about Arsenal’s mind set and I think they will be focussed having seen what happened to Man City. They are used to teams setting up well and looking to hit on the break. We are talking about two teams who are in very good form, but one has world class players, so I have to side with Arsenal. However soccer odds board show the price is short at 1.5 (1/2) despite that being significantly bigger than they would be against Premier League teams.
What I do like is Boro’s ability to breach the home team’s backline, so an Arsenal win and both teams to score at 3.3 (23/10) is my soccer pick here.
Free Soccer Pick: Arsenal to win and both teams to score 3.3 (23/10)