Gunners can grab narrow win

  • By: Chris Hammer and Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: February 16 2013, 14:54 GMT

There are four FA Cup fifth-round ties taking place on Saturday and Chris Hammer and Nick Hext have joined forces to preview them.

Arsenal: Backed for a narrow win over Blackburn
Arsenal: Backed for a narrow win over Blackburn

A narrow Arsenal win against Blackburn looks a decent bet, while Millwall to end non-league Luton's giantkilling run also looks tempting.

Here's their match-by-match preview:

Luton v Millwall (1245 GMT)

Luton made history by becoming the first non-league side to knock Premier League opposition out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory at Norwich, but their heroics were hardly rewarded in the fifth-round draw. No disrespect to Millwall, but a home clash with a mid-table Championship side is not the money-spinning tie the Hatters were hoping for and if my prediction for Saturday proves correct then they won't progress any further to get one either. Since their famous win over the Canaries, the Blue Square Premier outfit have taken just one point from their last three league games to fall six points off the play-off places while they've only scored one goal in this disappointing run. Millwall's own promotion hopes have been hit by three straight defeats since shocking Aston Villa but they still look too good a price to triumph at Kenilworth Road when other bookies have them odds-on. The Lions have largely impressed this season to stay in touch with the play-offs and now that's becoming less of a realistic objective, the possibility of an FA Cup quarter-final will be a big incentive for Kenny Jackett's side.

Verdict: Luton 0 Millwall 2 (CH)

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Arsenal v Blackburn (1500)

Few would argue that Arsenal's best chance of finally ending their long trophy drought this season lies in the FA Cup rather than the Champions League, although Arsene Wenger will no doubt have more than one eye on next Tuesday's clash with Bayern Munich when he selects his team to host Blackburn on Saturday. The Frenchman made several changes to his line-up for their fourth-round tie at Brighton, where Theo Walcott had to come off the bench to score a late winner in a 3-2 triumph, and we can expect him to adopt a similar policy against another Championship outfit. Rovers haven't had the best of seasons having changed manager twice but an unbeaten run of five games, including three wins and only two goals conceded, has given them an outside shot of reaching the play-offs and while that's certainly their priority, Michael Appleton's men should head to the Emirates with a degree of confidence. It's worth pointing out that Rovers have also kept five clean sheets in the last nine games so the Gunners might find them hard to break down if they head into this clash in complacent mood. And as encouraging as Arsenal's recent form has been, their full-strength side managed just two goals in their last two games, although one must remember Carl Jenkinson's red card forced them to defend for large periods of the second half at Sunderland on Saturday. With all this in mind I still expect Arsenal to go through and backing them to triumph by just a single goal looks the way to go.

Verdict: Arsenal 1 Blackburn 0 (CH)

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MK Dons v Barnsley (1500)

Barnsley are certainly the value call in this clash and you could do a lot worse than have a look at the price for the away win. That price isn't quite enough to get me tipping the Tykes though as, despite a fine recent run and providing us with a profit by winning at Hull in the last round, I think the League One Dons can avoid defeat. It's been three defeats and a draw for the hosts since winning at QPR in round four but there are some positive signs. Tuesday night's 0-0 draw at second-placed Doncaster was a creditable result and Karl Robinson's men could have come away with the victory. The entire Barnsley squad watched that match and they are certainly in good spirits with three away wins on the spin and an unbeaten run of seven matches. The Tykes' bid to stay in the Championship is definitely looking rosier and the FA Cup run is providing fuel for that battle. One fact worth taking note of is Jason Scotland scoring the last goal in each of his first three matches for Barnsley. Backing the striker to do so again could be the punt to give yourself interest in this match. I will not be tipping it up here but it's worth a look at in what will be a tight encounter.

Verdict: MK Dons 1 Barnsley 1 (NH)


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Oldham v Everton (1800)

Oldham provided one of the biggest stories of the fourth round by knocking out Liverpool at Boundary Park and can be backed at a general price of 8/1 to repeat the feat against the blue half of Merseyside on Saturday. The struggling League One outfit have parted company with manager Paul Dickov since that thrilling 3-2 victory due to their slide into the relegation zone but they are now only two points from safety thanks to an impressive victory over MK Dons last time out under caretaker-boss Tony Philliskirk. Survival was still the priority ahead of their clash with Liverpool so that can hardly be used as a reason to oppose the Latics in yet another glamour tie which they're bound to be well up for. However, while earning Champions League football is David Moyes' number one goal for the season, the Scot is also desperate to bring some silverware to Goodison Park and can be expected to name another strong line-up, as he has done in both previous rounds. The Toffees should progress at the first time of asking but you might want to consider this clash for your 'both teams to score' coupon this weekend. Everton have only kept five clean sheets this season and have also conceded in both of their two previous FA Cup games against lower-league opposition, while we know what Oldham did against Liverpool.

Verdict: Oldham 1 Everton 2 (CH)


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