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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Back bouncing Blackburn to give Hull hell

The Premier League legend is up for the FA Cup

Blackburn fans could be full of joy
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What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Blackburn to beat Hull. After a sticky start to the season Rovers are flying and an FA Cup tie against supposedly better opponents will get Ewood Park rocking. I say supposedly better, but Hull probably aren’t. City are enduring a wretched season in the Sky Bet Championship and have got far more important things to focus on than a third-round cup tie.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
I can see Bournemouth being given a tough time by Wigan, who are the best team in Sky Bet League One by some distance, according to colleagues I know who watch them a fair bit. Like Hull at Blackburn, the Cherries have other concerns and with a few injuries, Eddie Howe will have to make changes. Wigan should be capable of getting at least a draw.

Which non-Premier League team will go furthest in the FA Cup?
Aston Villa. Back-to-back wins against Middlesbrough and Bristol City have got Villa flying – they’ve lost only two of their last ten and have got a proud cup history. They’d certainly expect to take care of Peterborough and then it’s all about the draw. The Villa squad looks as good as anything outside the top flight and Steve Bruce has them playing nicely.

FA Cup tournament preview

What’s your view on the introduction of VAR technology for the Brighton v Palace game?
I fear the worst. Football is about opinions and grey areas. You could look five times at any number of handball incidents we’ve seen recently and have a different view each time. In my eyes, it’s been a disaster in Germany. Right decisions have been reversed, wrong ones haven’t been over-ruled. It slows the game down. and I fear it could turn people off football.

Should Jack Wilshere be in England’s World Cup squad?
As ever with Wilshere, it’s down to his fitness. If he stays fit between now and the end of the season, then yes, I’d take him to Russia. Wilshere links play well and looks after the ball, two critical attributes in international football where ball retention is everything. And, as we saw against Chelsea, he knows how to find the net. He just needs to stay fit.

What’s your best bet for the League Cup semi-final first legs?
Chelsea to beat Arsenal. The Blues came on so strong towards the end of the 2-2 draw at the Emirates on Wednesday having wasted enough chances in the first half to have been out of sight. At home, and against another relatively inexperienced Arsenal back line, I’d expect Chelsea to have far too much.

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City are enduring a wretched season in the Sky Bet Championship and have got far more important things to focus on than a third-round cup tie
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