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  1. The FA Cup quarter-final – another West Midlands affair

    My team to follow in the last round of the FA Cup was West Bromwich Albion and, after they saw off West Ham United in a convincing 4-0 victory in the 5th round, the honour remains with the Baggies as we enter the quarter-final stage of the competition.

    It doesn’t seem long since I was previewing the titanic West Midlands FA Cup clash between West Brom and Birmingham City and now we have another Midlands derby in store as the Albion travel to Aston Villa who are now under the stewardship of new boss Tim Sherwood.

    Both clubs have had success in the FA Cup but in the case of the Baggies you have to go back to 1968 for their last triumph. Albion had previously lifted the trophy on four occasions.

    Villa meanwhile have lifted the iconic trophy seven times, ...
  2. 3pm on Saturday in the Premier League – winners and losers

    By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    Five Premier League games kick-off this week at the traditional 3.00 pm (GMT) Saturday time slot. Below are my predictions. They are very ambitious after last week’s super flop, I know, but hey, fortune favours the brave!

    Burnley v Swansea City

    Since the beginning of December, Burnley have drawn three home league games.
    The other four games in that period have been decided by just one goal in either direction, suggesting that Turf Moor encounters are always tight affairs.
    Meanwhile Swansea City, fresh from completing the double over Manchester United, will be expecting something from the game having had tight wins on the road at Southampton and Hull City in the corresponding period. ...

    Updated 26th February 2015 at 04:33 PM by Veritas

    Categories
    Betting
  3. Could the Premier League relegation battle be closer than ever?

    By Matt Harris

    Realistically, every club in the bottom eight of the Premier League table is presently facing a relegation battle.
    That’s 12th place Everton down to the bottom three of Aston Villa, Burnley and Leicester City.
    The clubs in between are Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Hull City and Queens Park Rangers.
    So what do the stats say about league’s most threatened teams?

    Are the Magpies safe?

    Newcastle United sit five points clear of Everton in 11th place with 32 points.
    The Magpies seem to be constantly on the brink of disaster, but at the moment it looks like they will do enough to stay in the top division before hiring a new manager in the summer.

    Various bookmakers see Leicester ...

    Updated 20th February 2015 at 11:38 AM by Veritas

    Categories
    Betting , Competitions , Premier League
  4. Away the lads – Four possible away wins to consider

    By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    I was reading about an electrician in his 30s who won £74,844 last Saturday which has inspired me to pick four matches for this weekend in which an away win looks likely.

    The Scarborough-based punter (who wishes to remain anonymous) placed a £5 bet on six matches on Coral’s Winning Ways coupon on Saturday, waking up to a £74,844 win.

    Well, I’m not ambitious enough to predict six games, so won’t be winning anyone enough to buy a holiday home in Spain – but maybe a set of new pans for the kitchen or an interesting water feature for the garden isn't out of the question!

    Brentford v AFC Bournemouth

    The Bees seem to have been destabilised in recent matches by speculation over the future of ...
  5. FA Cup Saturday fourfold

    With many of the favored teams already knocked out of the world's greatest cup competition, half of the weekend's FA Cup 5th round ties being spread across Saturday afternoon presents an intriguing prospect for a rewarding fourfold.

    West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United

    Despite being a cup game, it's likely each team's differing league ambitions will have a major influence on this tie. While the visitors sit comfortably in the higher reaches of the top division, Baggies minds are firmly fixed on the essential Premier League survival.

    Albion will be encouraged by a New Year's Day draw in East London when manager-in-waiting Tony Pulis looked on from the Upton Park stands.

    However, as the Hammers can boast a 2-1 league win at The Hawthorns as recently as two months ago ...
  6. West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United – East meets West in the FA Cup

    By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    My hypothetical blogger’s FA Cup baton didn’t stay long in the hands of Birmingham City as they immediately handed it over to local rivals West Bromwich Albion in the last round of the competition.

    The draw, made by Gary Lineker live on the BBC’s One Show, set up a meeting of the West Midlands club and their East London Premier League rivals West Ham United.



    Both clubs have had success in the FA Cup, in the case of the Baggies you have to go back to 1968 for their last triumph, when a Jeff Astle goal three minutes into extra time saw off Everton.

    Albion had previously lifted the trophy in 1888, 1892, 1931 and 1954. Their most recent victory ...

    Updated 12th February 2015 at 08:47 AM by Veritas

    Categories
    Competitions , FA Cup
  7. Home comforts - This weekend's football picks

    By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    After a few attempts at trying to pick teams that either would or wouldn't score a goal in a particular match, I've gone back to basics this week to find a few teams who look set for a home win.

    It might be a bit ambitious trying to choose seven, but I can always perm less games into an accumulator to improve the chances of landing the punt.

    Manchester City v Hull City
    Not rocket science this one with a team looking to win the Premier League entertaining the struggling Tigers, who have failed to score in their last four games.

    Brighton & Hove Albion v Nottingham Forest
    A win at Derby suggested better times ahead for Forest but that result is surrounded by six defeats, including a ...
  8. Progress versus tradition in football

    By Steve Sands (AFS Contributor)

    Without embracing change in the game, we wouldn’t have floodlights, improved medical care for players, all-seater modern stadiums and more recently, goal-line technology.

    But the question has to be are some things sacrosanct, and so should never change? Or put another way, what things can a club’s owner alter without alienating the fans and causing resentment?

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    The big story of the year so far on this subject has been the decision made by Cardiff City to revert back to their traditional blue shirts for home games following months of protests from disgruntled fans.

    The club changed their branding from blue to red in 2012 with owner Vincent Tan believing ...

    Updated 31st January 2015 at 07:23 PM by Veritas

    Categories
    History
  9. Birmingham City v West Bromwich Albion – a West Midlands FA Cup showdown

    I originally handed my special FA Cup bloggers baton to Tooting and Mitcham United. My unscientific choice was simply because the name struck a chord with me from the 1970s sitcom Citizen Smith starring Robert Lindsay.

    Tooting’s FA Cup journey had begun back in August last year with a 0-0 draw at home to Three Bridges FC, followed by a 4-1 win in the replay.

    Tooting stormed through the next round against Bishop's Stortford at the second attempt, before losing out to East Thurrock United in the competitions Third Qualifying round.

    East Thurrock had grabbed my hypothetical baton and proceeded to sprint past Bath City, giving them a 7-1 thrashing in the process.

    Hartlepool United then briefly took over ownership by knocking out the Essex ...

    Updated 18th January 2015 at 04:19 PM by Veritas

    Categories
    Competitions , FA Cup
  10. Clean sheet success – four more to ponder

    Last week’s predictions were a long awaited triumph as all four landed safely.

    I’d highlighted four games in which I believed that one or both of the teams would fail to find the net.

    I said that Chelsea would score and win the game but would shut out Newcastle United at the other end, which the Blues did in securing a 2-0 victory.

    I expected Villa to live up to their new nickname of Aston Villa Nil, and they duly obliged by going down 1-0 at Leicester City.

    In the Championship, Nottingham Forest’s poor run of form saw them fire blanks again as they lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

    Lastly, I called the Southend United versus Plymouth Argyle game to be a tight and cagey affair, which it certainly was as the teams ...

    Updated 14th January 2015 at 03:39 PM by Veritas

    Categories
    Betting , Competitions , Premier League , Football League
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