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Wednesday may have crashed out of the FA Cup, but Gerry McDonnell returns with a look ahead to the weekend's fixtures in the prestigious competition.


I'm a lover, not a fighter. My campness is not a result of liberal idealism; I've simply lost so many brawls that I've had pacifism thrust upon me. Nowadays, the only way I'd get involved in a ruck is if the wife was being mugged. If we stood together, I reckon we could take her.

Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich do not share my increasingly feminine outlook. War has broken out between manager and chairman, and Chelsea`s title ambitions are the first confirmed casualty. The beleaguered Blues are still firing on all cylinders in the cups though; Forest will be cut down at a scything 1/7.

Petr Cech is so concerned about the ongoing hostilities, he's whipped out his helmet as a safeguard. With the inspirational keeper between the sticks and a revitalised Shevchenko leading the line, I`m quietly confident that the Blues will either win 3-0 or 4-0, a scenario which pays out at a more socially acceptable 3/1.

The normally placid Frank Lampard has reacted angrily to criticism from Joey Barton this week. I can`t help thinking that Frank should have just taken it on the chin; the second one. The Lamp is in fine fettle, he must be backed at a rotund 11/8 to find the net at any time.

If the fallout from the 'Big Brother' house has taught us anything, it's that we must unite as a people. Let's come together, right now, to back The Hammers at 5/6 to see off Watford.

Wayne Rooney has admitted to knowing all the songs from 'Oliver!' off by heart. I`d have thought 'Grease' would have been more up his alley. They say an army marches on their stomach; Rooney can lead his United troop to a victory over Portsmouth at 3/10.

Southampton look overpriced to cause a shock at Man City. The Saints are flying high in the Championship, Bradley Wright-Phillips is in goal scoring form and Pele is sure to make it hard for Psycho's men. Man City are always the epitome of unpredictability, the Saints can march in at 4/1.

I don`t believe in déjà vu, although I've got a niggling feeling that I may have mentioned that once before. Birmingham face Reading in the 4th Round for the second year running; the Blues came out on top last time, at odds of 6/4, a repeat is more than a possibility.

Violence is never the answer. Unless the question is, 'What`s the best way to ensure my dinner`s on the table on time'. Reading coach Wally Downes actually laid hands on Neil Warnock last week, when push comes to shove, I suggest you back Birmingham to win 1-0 at 15/2.

It's been reported that Tottenham may be given a bye in the UEFA Cup; how can they be so sure that they`ll meet Rangers? I'm absolutely positive that Spurs will beat Southend at 1/4.

Is it wrong for me to continually speak of my admiration for Thierry Henry? Apparently, it is during lovemaking. It`s hard for me to think of the Gunners without remembering my wedding day. It brings a tear to my eye to think of the wife being led down the aisle by her father, shortly after her brothers had led me down head first. I'm welling up about the 8/15 for an Arsenal win over Bolton.

Mike Newell's comments on female officials were nothing short of abhorrent in today's more enlightened society. There is a definite place for the fairer sex in the beautiful game; those pies don't heat themselves. Blackburn will see off Luton at a rather warm 5/6.

Stoke will be up for the fight at the Cottage, but like Big Brother`s Jackiey, they're poorly armed. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that a Fulham win at 8/13 is a punt pulled directly out of the top drawer.

Many people admire Ghandi for his unswerving commitment to resolving conflict in a non-violent manner. Personally, I preferred it when Thumper tried to teach him how to ice skate. Middlesbrough are on fire, they'll turn over Bristol City at a red-hot 11/10.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight; if it was, the wife would be the undisputed world heavyweight champion. Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Fulham, West Ham and Arsenal form an 18/1 accer that is so dominant, any argument against it would be like foreplay; a complete waste of time and effort.

Weekend Betting:

Luton v Blackburn Saturday 27th January 12:30
Live on BBC

Luton 10/3
Draw 12/5
Blackburn 5/6

Get on: Blackburn

Match Special:
McCarthy to score two or more goals 11/2

Birmingham v Reading
Saturday 27th January 15:00

Birmingham 6/4
Draw 9/4
Reading 17/10

Get on: Birmingham

Match Special:
Campbell to score the only goal of the game 33/1

Bristol City v Middlesbrough
Saturday 27th January 15:00

Bristol City 3/1
Draw 9/4
Middlesbrough 11/10

Get on: Middlesbrough

Match Special:
Yakubu and Viduka both to score 13/2

Fulham v Stoke
Saturday 27th January 15:00

Fulham 8/13
Draw 13/5
Stoke 5/1

Get on: Fulham

Match Special:
Fulham to score three or more goals 9/4

Tottenham v Southend
Saturday 27th January 15:00

Tottenham 1/4
Draw 9/2
Southend 10/1

Get on: Tottenham

Match Special:
Defoe to score two or more goals 4/1

West Ham v Watford
Saturday 27th January 15:00

West Ham 5/6
Draw 5/2
Watford 4/1

Get on: West Ham

Match Special:
Benayoun to score at any time 11/4

Man Utd v Portsmouth
Saturday 27th January 17:15
Live on BBC

Man Utd 3/10
Draw 4/1
Portsmouth 9/1

Get on: Man Utd

Match Special:
Ronaldo to score direct from a free kick 7/1

Chelsea v Nottm Forest
Sunday 28th January 14:00
Live on BBC

Chelsea 1/7
Draw 6/1
Nottm Forest 18/1

Get on: Chelsea

Match Special:
Shevchenko to score a hat-trick 20/1

Man City v Southampton
Sunday 28th January 15:00

Man City 4/6
Draw 5/2
Southampton 4/1

Get on: Southampton

Match Special:
Southampton to win 2-1 16/1

Arsenal v Bolton Sunday 28th January 16:00
Live on Sky

Arsenal 8/15
Draw 3/1
Bolton 13/2

Get on: Arsenal

Match Special:
Henry to score from a Fabregas pass 9/2

By Gerry McDonnell

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday January 25 2007
Time: 12:16PM

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