For the second time in this campaign, West Ham are one game away from Wembley, with similarly silverware-starved opponents from the midlands standing in their way…
West Ham have got the better of Stoke in their three meetings this season, drawing at the Britannia Stadium, beating them after extra-time in the Carling Cup and seeing them off 3-0 in the return Premier League fixture just last week.
Despite that, it’s Stoke that start the final showdown as favourites to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1972 at 6/5, a price vindicated by their five-year unbeaten run at home in the competition.
The Potters are also yet to lose in front of their fans in 2011, which is why West Ham are 23/10 outsiders to make it to Wembley for the first time in 30 years, with the expectation being that they will fall at the final hurdle again.
The visitors are on a superb scoring streak having found the net 20 times in their last seven games, the arrivals of Stoke target Demba Ba and the fit-again Robbie Keane playing a major part in boosting their survival chances.
That and the fact Stoke have fired only two blanks at the Britannia all season suggest that both teams to score at 5/6 and in particular over 2.5 goals at 11/10 are irresistible bets.
Tony Pulis has two FA Cup specialists in his ranks in John Carew and Jon Walters and both have the added motivation of wanting to make amends for disappointing displays at the Boleyn Ground last week.
Walters has netted three times for the hosts in this year’s competition, while Carew has hit eight in his last nine FA Cup appearances, so odds of 6/4 on the Norwegian striking at any time and 7/4 on the Irishman scoring have to be considered.
It’s 30/1 for Stoke to win 2-1 with Carew grabbing the opener. A £25 bet on that would provide a £750 profit. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.