There were mixed fortunes for Manchester United and Spurs in the Europa League round of 32 last night. United brushed French side St Etienne aside at Old Trafford winning 3-0 thanks to Ibrahimovic’s first hat-trick for the club and they should progress to the round of 16 now without too much trouble. Spurs were less impressive against AA Gent at the Ghelamco Arena in Belgium losing 1-0, but they will fancy their chances in the return leg back at White Hart Lane and I would definitely not write them off qualifying for the last 16.
This weekend’s domestic football action includes the FA Cup fifth round, which includes two none league clubs Sutton Utd and Lincoln City for the first time in the competitions history, and the eight matches will be played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Burnley and Lincoln City get the action underway on Saturday lunchtime and there are three 3pm kick offs featuring three Premier League clubs against lower league opposition. Manchester City face Championship opposition Huddersfield, Middlesbrough host league one Oxford Utd and Leicester City travel to the Den in South London to face Millwall.
There is one more game on Saturday teatime between Wolverhampton Wanders and Premier League leaders Chelsea at Molineux. On Sunday there are two fixtures both featuring Premier League clubs against lower league opposition. The first kick-off at 2pm is an all London clash between Fulham and Spurs at the Craven Cottage and the second live on BBC 1 at 4.15pm is between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United at Ewood Park. The final game is between none league Sutton Utd and Arsenal at Gander Green Lane, which is live on BBC 1 and kicks off at 7.55pm.
From a betting perspective I think Manchester City are worth opposing as Huddersfield have not lost at home for two and a half months and City will have one eye on their Champions League fixture on Tuesday. Leicester City’s league problems are well documented with the threat of relegation looming more than ever however, their Champions League and FA cup exploits continue to contradict their league troubles.
Leicester manager Ranieri will try and mastermind wins in both competitions tomorrow against Millwall and on Tuesday when they travel to face Sevilla in the first leg of their last-16 clash. While a win or draw would be a massive achievement against Sevilla on Tuesday, I would be far less surprised if they achieved either of them results against Millwall tomorrow.