Sports betting

Weekend Review: Mitoma magic lances Liverpool as layers lap up the Cup

Brighton march into fifth round of FA Cup while Cheltenham fever takes hold following Trials Day

The FA Cup fourth round was devoid of its traditional giant killings at the weekend, but the bookies still walked away happy.

A series of acca-busting draws and Liverpool’s (3/2) 2-1 loss to Brighton (7/5), thanks to a last-minute stunner from Kaoru Mitoma, meant the break from league action was not a drab affair for the traders.

Manchester City (1/2) kicked off the weekend with a 1-0 win over Arsenal (9/2) in the pair’s first meeting of the season, with Nathan Aké’s fine finish putting Pep Guardiola’s men into the next round.

The low-scoring affair was music to layers’ ears, while a six-goal thriller on Sunday afternoon was also cheered.

Championship Sheffield United (13/20) headed to North Wales to face off against Hollywood-backed Wrexham (7/2) and got off to a flying start within two minutes as Oli McBurnie put the Blades ahead.

Wrexham turned the game on its head in the second half, going 2-1 up, before being pegged back to 2-2.

Paul Mullin thought he had won it for the Welsh side and put his National League side through, but a stoppage time equaliser from John Egan forced a replay.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “It was FA Cup weekend and, while we were short of any real giant killings, traders here still managed to have a good weekend.

“Spurs’ comfortable 3-0 win over Preston was our worst result of the round as punters finished well ahead, but outside of that there were no disasters.

“Brighton once again beating Liverpool at the AMEX was our best result of the round, while Wrexham’s heartbreak at conceding a last-minute equaliser against Sheffield United also ended in a nice positive result for the book,” he added.

Meanwhile, bet365’s Steve Freeth reflected on the action at the Etihad and the Racecourse Ground.

He said: “The master managed to overcome the apprentice at the Etihad and while the favourites for the competition safely navigated a tricky hurdle, it was the manner of the victory that was much to our liking. One goal, three bookings and three corners – a great way to get the fourth-round weekend started.

“However, fast forward to Sunday night at the Racecourse Ground where we had six goals, 14 shots on target, five yellow cards and a red card – bet builder heaven for punters.

“A 95th minute equaliser from John Egan wouldn’t have been in the script for Wrexham backers but it made good TV. I wonder if anybody has thought about doing a Netflix series on the Welsh side.”

With the holders Liverpool and high-flyers Arsenal now out of the competition, Betfred’s Alan Firkins revealed who is looking most likely for the famous old trophy.

Firkins said: “Many top teams have fallen by the wayside, leaving Manchester as the famous old trophy’s most likely eventual destination according to the layers – it’s 6/4 City, 7/2 Manchester United, and 6/1 bar.

“Fans of Spurs, Brighton, West Ham and others will doubtless have plenty to say about all that.”

On the continent, draws for PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were fantastic results for the bookies, while losses for Juventus and AC Milan were also well received.

Elsewhere, in horseracing, the Cheltenham Festival Trials Day was full of excitement as the runners and riders staked their claims ahead of the Festival

In the Clarence House chase, which had been switched from Ascot after last weekend’s abandonment, 14-1 shot Editeur Du Gite, trained by Gary Moore, led from the front to power up the hill and edge out the fast-finishing Arkle champion Edwardstone in a thrilling finish.

Heady odds-on shot Energumene – winner of last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase – made a mistake at the last and could only finish third.

Betway’s Chad Yeomans said: “A few bubbles were burst in the rescheduled Clarence House Chase as the both Energumene and Edwardstone were beaten by Editeur Du Gite, which was a great result for the book.

“Not only was it a good result on the day, but it sets up the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival in March to be an exciting re-match between all three, and when you also include Blue Lord who was so impressive in Ireland at Christmas, to make up what looks like the most competitive renewal in years,” he added.

Gill commented: “The Cotswolds Chase went the way of Ahoy Senor at 13/2, very impressive as he held a couple of highly regarded Gold Cup horses behind for another great result for the book, whilst the Ballymore Novice Hurdle went the way of Rock My Way at 13/2, just getting the better of 5/4 favourite Pembroke to leave us nicely in the black there as well.”

Finally, in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will face off in Super Bowl LVII on 12 February after winning their respective championship games.

The Eagles were crowned NFC champions after a stellar display against the San Francisco 49ers, who were hampered by injuries to both quarterbacks, which rocked their rhythm.

The Chiefs, led by the imperious Patrick Mahomes, run out 23-20 winners over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC.

Firkins commented: “Championship weekend in the NFL has produced the two teams who’ll contest Super Bowl LVII on Sunday week in Arizona. Philadelphia Eagles have opened the narrow money line fav at 10/13, with the Kansas City Chiefs an 11/10 chance.

“Patrick Mahomes engineered a third Super Bowl trip for the Chiefs in his five years as a starter, and despite fears to the contrary, Bengals’ star QB Joe ‘Brrrr’ couldn’t turn KC’s stronghold into ‘Burrowhead’ for the evening – though it was a real nail-biter.”

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