For some attempting to predict how FA Cup matches will unfold is a fruitless task, with the ‘magic of the cup’ leaving some questioning the formbook in football’s oldest competition.
But as Arsenal and Aston Villa prepare to step onto Wembley’s hallowed turf in the ultimate decider, we think we have a pretty good idea of how the battle in west London will unfold.
Arsene Wenger is preparing his side to becoming the winningmost team in the competitions history, with a 12 cup success on the horizon.
And it is clear to us that they will be after a quick start.
An early strike has been a staple of the Gunners’ cup campaign this year, with a goal in the first period in all five of their matches.
Their west Midlands opponents however have been less clinical in the opening 45 minutes.
Tim Sherwood’s men scored their maiden first half goal of the competition in the semi final against Wembley, and that was only after they had gone behind to Philippe Coutinho’s strike
That brings us on to our first suggested bet. With Arsenal’s proficiency for an early goal, and Villa’s inefficiency to break the deadlock, the 9/10 on Wenger’s men to score the first goal in the opening period looks a solid pick.
Don’t expect Villa to hit back before the break either. They have gone in behind at the break without scoring in four of their last five meetings with Arsenal, so the 5/4 on the capital club winning the first half to nil looks outstanding value.
But after the players of had their half-time oranges is where it gets interesting.
We don’t know what it is about Arsene Wenger’s half-time team-talks but they seem to take a while to sink in.
In their last seven matches that have seen a second half strike, Arsenal have conceded first in the concluding 45 minutes of the match.
With that said, the 14/5 on Villa bagging first after the break could be the best bet of the day.
If Villa are to cause an upset a lot will depend on Christian Benteke.
The Belgian has scored 13 goals in his last 14 games, and at 5/2 to bag anytime is the most interesting of the goal-scorer markets.
However, while they are an extremely short price to lift the trophy at 3/10, it is extremely hard not to see Wenger claiming his sixth success in the tournament.
In expecting the Gunners to lead at the break, we have to back them to see the tie out.
You have to go back 12 years for the last time they failed to convert a half-time lead in the competition into a win, when they required a replay to see off Chelsea in the 2003 quarter finals.
So there you have it, the FA Cup final in a nutshell – if only football was that simple.
FA Cup Final best bets:
Arsenal to score first in the first half @ 9/10
Arsenal to win the first half to nil @ 5/4
Aston Villa to score the first second half goal @ 14/5
Christian Benteke to score any time @ 5/2
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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