Arsenal (-133) at Hull City (+425), Draw (+280)
Two-time reigning FA Cup champs Arsenal would prefer to have dealt and finished with Hull City three weeks ago, but they drew the second-division squad at home, 0-0, in fifth-round action. Now the Gunners have to win at Kingston Communications Stadium today (2:00 PM Eastern) in order to advance.
Arsenal came out on the attack when the teams met at the Emirates, but couldn’t muster a single tally. Manager Arsene Wenger blamed the result – which ended a 14-game FA Cup win streak – on his team’s impending Champions League match with Barcelona, saying the Gunners weren’t focused on the task at hand.
They better have their minds right this afternoon as the FA Cup has become their best chance for a trophy this season.
Arsenal were dominated by Barcelona (2-0, home) in the UCL and are now on the edge of elimination. They’ve also fallen to third in the Premier League, eight points back of league-leading Leicester and three down on Tottenham, after a string of bad results (0-2-2 in the last four EPL games).
They did manage a key point on the weekend, though, drawing Tottenham 2-2 at White Hart Lane despite playing much of the game with ten men.
If they play with the same hustle today, the Gunners shouldn’t have a problem dispatching Hull City from the FA Cup for the third straight season.
The Tigers are coming off a 1-0 loss to Birmingham in the England Championship this past weekend, and would need a massive effort to compete against the Gunners.
Now that the FA Cup has taken on increased importance for Wenger and company, expect Arsenal to field as strong a lineup possible and to come out motivated. Though they’re -133 favorites on the road, that still looks like the best play on the board.
Pick: Arsenal (-133).
(Photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)