Crystal Palace v Watford: Who needs a game full of goals when you could make the most of an edgy affair and an 8/1 winner

History says FA Cup semi-finals are tighter than David Cameron's budget, and it could well be the same between Crystal Palace and Watford on Sunday

Alan Pardew

It'll be squeaky-bum time at Wembley - but this 8/1 shot could ease your concerns

Crystal Palace v Watford, Sunday 4.00pm, BBC 1

Both Crystal Palace and Watford have Premier League survival in the bag (pretty much Eagles fans, don’t worry) and now an FA Cup Final is just 90 minutes away. For neutral fans it’s refreshing to see a cup competition that isn’t dominated by the top flight’s big guns, but unfortunately we’re unlikely to be treated to a high-scoring thriller on Sunday afternoon.

A little bit of rational thinking would suggest the further you go in the FA Cup, the closer the games become. Naturally the better teams progress and there are less mismatches than in previous rounds. The last 20 years of stats back this up, and whereas you can expect an average of 2.83 goals per game in the fourth round, that drops to just 2.4 goals a game in the semi-final.

Of the last 20 semi-final matches, 10 of them had under 2.5 goals with another six featuring exactly three goals. Both teams have found the net in less than half of the FA Cup semi-finals since 1996 in what tend to be close, nervy affairs.

90 minutes of squeaky-bum time? Pretty much guaranteed.

A stat that is emphasised when you look at the two teams competing in Sunday’s clash. Four of Crystal Palace’s last five league games have featured under 2.5 goals, while five of Watford’s last seven top flight matches have also ducked under the 2.5 line.

If you’re looking for a thrilling Sunday of box-to-box action, Wembley might not be the place – although a winning 8/1 shot would make it more exciting…

It’s no surprise to see it’s odds on for there to be under 2.5 goals at , given both side’s recent form and the trend of FA Cup semi-finals in the past. While the traders in Power Tower are also struggling to split the sides, with Crystal Palace edging slight favouritism at with Watford at .

That could be slightly skewed however. While Alan Pardew’s Palace have held Everton, West Ham and Arsenal to draws in the last three weeks, they’ve only won once in 17 league matches – and that was at home to relegation candidates Norwich. Watford’s early season form is a distant memory now, but they are a tough side to break down, and have only conceded eight goals in 13 games against teams below them in the league.

Watford won 2-1 at Selhurst Park in February, and while we’re backing even fewer goals at Wembley, a 1-0 Watford win at is more than tempting. If you’re looking for a slightly more conservative punt on the Hornets it’s for Watford to win by exactly one goal, and while we may not be in for the most exciting 90 minutes on Sunday, we’re backing it to be all smiles for Quique Sanchez Flores.

What do you think?