Fa Cup Odds Suggest Chelsea Set For Double Delight

Football Preview: Fa Cup Odds Suggest Chelsea Set For Double Delight

2017-05-19
Preview of the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal.

Arsenal and Chelsea have between them won six of the 10 FA Cup finals played at the new Wembley Stadium and will continue their dominance of the event this season.

The Blues edged out Manchester United when the decider was switched back to London from Cardiff in 2007 and prevailed in football's oldest ongoing competition in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

The Gunners have lifted the trophy twice in the last three years, establishing a clear record of 12 outright victories until United joined them on that tally 12 months ago.

This time it is Chelsea who are favourites to come out on top at 13/25, with Arsenal available at 8/5.

Antonio Conte has already wrapped up the Premier League in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge and now hopes to emulate the Double exploits of compatriot Carlo Ancelotti seven years ago.

Foreign managers have been accused of not treating this competition with enough respect, but Conte is clearly keen to experience one of English sport's showcase events.

Although initially leaving Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench for the semi-final clash with Tottenham, both did feature for the last half an hour of that 4-2 win, with the Belgium star among the scorers.

"We know the importance of this competition and, for this reason, we celebrated a lot, but I also showed that I trust all of my team and my squad,” commented the former Juventus coach.

"I'm proud for this achievement and it's great for the players and for me, because it's my first year in England. It's great to fight for the title and to reach the final of the FA Cup."

Chelsea can be backed at 5/6 to beat Arsenal in normal time, with Costa 7/2 to open the scoring on this occasion and Hazard 11/2.

Those key players had previously started in a 1-0 defeat of Manchester United at the last-eight stage and a fifth-round win at Wolves.

Chelsea supporters will take heart from the way their team overpowered Arsenal in February's 3-1 Premier League victory at the Bridge and they are 13/1 to repeat that scoreline here.

However, the Gunners had enjoyed a 3-0 success over the Blues at Emirates Stadium back in September and it is 45/1 they match that result.

Their last meeting at Wembley also went the way of Arsenal, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bagging the only goal of the game in the 2015 Community Shield.

It is 16/5 for Arsene Wenger's side to get the job done in normal time and Evens they are wining or drawing at that point in a match which could yet have a bearing on the Frenchman's future.

The 67-year-old's current contract expires after the FA Cup final but he is only focused on lifting this trophy for the eighth time in his reign of almost 21 years.

Their two recent triumphs came against lower-ranked opposition in Hull City and Aston Villa, while Arsenal benefitted from some good draws this term, too - with Sutton and Lincoln among their victims.

However, the Gunners showed they can be a match for anyone on their day when seeing off Manchester City in the semis.

That 2-1 triumph also silenced the critics who claim Arsenal can be a soft touch, with Wenger's side hanging in there during some testing times before Nacho Monreal equalised and Alexis Sanchez clinched it in extra time.

Sanchez has rescued the Gunners time and time again this term and is 5/2 to strike against Chelsea, 7/1 to open the scoring and the same price to bag the final goal.

The Chile international has been hampered by niggling injuries in the latter stages of the campaign, but Wenger said: "Once he is on the pitch and has the ball, he becomes the devil and forgets his pain."

Sanchez has also been the subject of exit rumours, but Wenger added: "Nobody can question his desire and his quality and, if you look at his numbers, he has developed here as a player. 

"He has become a top-class player. He has not wasted his time here. Hopefully that will last for a long time."

888sport

If Sanchez does fail to deliver the goods for a change, Arsenal do have strength in depth in the goalscoring department, with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott also hitting double figures in the Premier League this season.

Both were on target when the Gunners thrashed Villa 4-0 in the 2015 decider and are 5/2 and 7/2 respectively to get on the scoresheet again here.

Walcott has been particularly effective in earlier rounds of this year's competition, hitting a hat-trick in a 5-0 romp at Southampton and netting against Sutton and Lincoln.

When it comes to picking out first goalscorer bets in FA Cup finals, it can pay to go with bigger-priced players, though.

The likes of Wigan Athletic midfielder Ben Watson and Hull City defender James Chester have obliged in this market in the last four years, while Jason Puncheon came off the bench to break the deadlock for Crystal Palace 12 months ago.

Shkodran Mustafi has looked dangerous when going up for Arsenal corners and catches the eye at 50/1.

For Chelsea, David Luiz is always capable of firing in a long-range free-kick, making his odds of 22/1 tempting.

Looking at the method of victory betting, Arsenal are 22/1 to prevail in extra time, as they did when edging out Hull 3-2.

The Blues won via that manner when Didier Drogba broke Manchester United hearts in 2007 and they are 12/1 in this sphere.

No final at the new Wembley has gone to penalties, but Arsenal did beat United in a shoot-out in Cardiff 12 years ago, with Patrick Vieira holding his nerve after Jens Lehmann had saved from Paul Scholes.

It is 14/1 for the Gunners to claim victory after spot-kicks this time, with Chelsea 12/1.

Cheshire-based referee Anthony Taylor will take charge of his first FA Cup final and he is 11/4 to award a penalty during normal time.

“It’s been a long-standing dream of mine in the 20-odd years that I’ve been a referee to one day officiate the FA Cup final, it’s the pinnacle of your domestic career," said the 38-year-old.  

Taylor did hit the headlines recently when awarding Burnley a controversial spot-kick against Swansea, despite the ball striking the arm of Clarets forward Sam Vogts.

He later insisted the fact that the game came three days after his stag do in Marbella had no bearing on the decision!