What a strange quartet of semi-finalists we have in the FA Cup this season. Jose Mourinho repeatedly throws his players under his parked bus, while Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t seem to care whether Spurs ever win a domestic cup ever again.
Chelsea are in one of their slump seasons, so will probably win the damn thing but sack their manager, and Southampton would have traded victory here for three points against the same opponents last weekend. And people say the FA Cup has been devalued these days.
First up on Saturday evening is Manchester United against Tottenham. The stand out bet in this match would appear to be a ‘no’ when it comes to both teams to score. Paddy’s currently offering even money for this outcome, and there’s a simple reason why you should take it; in recent years, one team almost always draws a blank when these two meet.
Since Poch took charge at the Lane, both teams have scored in only one of the eight meetings. That occurred when Wayne Rooney scored last May, with what turned out to be the final United goal of his career. Who knows, maybe Paul Pogba will repeat that trick on Saturday?
The most likely scorer in Paddy’s opinion is Harry Kane. You can insert your own joke here, I’m tired of them. He is priced at 16/5 to open the scoring, or 11/10 to net at some point. However, despite having over 100 Premier League goals to his name, Kane has only ever scored once against United.
He’s unlikely to get much help from the ref this weekend. Anthony Taylor has never awarded Spurs a penalty, and he’s from Manchester for good measure.
Perhaps Christian Eriksen is a better choice in the scorer market, and not least because he scored within 11 seconds the last time these teams clashed.
He also has five goals in his last five Tottenham games, while Kane has just two in his. He scored against City home and away as I correctly predicted on these pages too, so definitely bear him in mind here. He has three opening goals this season, and he’s priced at 15/2 to get another one here, but I’ll be taking a slice of the 3/1 any time pie please, Paddy.
Romelu Lukaku appears to be the obvious choice for United, as he has scored six goals in his last nine appearances for the club. He will also become the FA Cup’s joint-top scorer this season if he gets a goal, and who wouldn’t want to be alongside Rochdale’s Ian Henderson in the scoring stakes?
Only three players have scored more opening goals than the Belgian forward has this season, so the 11/2 price on him breaking the deadlock may appeal to you.
No team in the Premier League has won more home games to nil than Spurs over the past two seasons, so that’s my forecast for this one. Tottenham to win to nil is 13/5, but who will face them in the final on 19th May?
Chelsea. See you next week, enjoy the matches.
Wait, come back. While the result appears obvious, with Paddy’s odds of 4/9 for a Chelsea win emphasising the point, there’s still some money to be made with some clever betting.
Or my choices here, if you prefer.
Unlike with the first semi-final, there are usually goals when these sides clash.
In the last six meetings, both teams have scored four times, with all of those matches seeing over 2.5 goals (with three of them having more than 3.5).
However, the two matches which don’t tick these boxes occurred in the last two seasons, so both were under the watch of Antonio Conte. This makes sense, as in the Italian’s time at Stamford Bridge, only United and Burnley have had fewer league games where both teams scored than Chelsea. As with the first semi-final, it has to be a ‘no’ on both teams to score here, which you can get at 8/11.
Eden Hazard seems to hate Southampton, so perhaps opt for him in the scorer market in semi-final two (this time it’s personal). He has scored five goals against them in his career, including finding the net in three of the last four meetings. He’s available at 5/4 to score at any time, and how about a Belgian weekend double with him and Lukaku to score at just under 13/2?
Willian may be worth a look too, as he hasn’t scored from any of his last 11 shots in the league (which have included two clear-cut chances). He also hasn’t found the net in his last seven games for Chelsea and Brazil, so he must be due a goal soon. Paddy’s got odds of 23/10 that he scores at some point here.
Southampton’s only reliable goal threat is Charlie Austin, but will Mark Hughes risk him here? Since he returned from injury, Austin has started against West Ham, but only made cameos against Arsenal and Chelsea.
That suggests Hughes wants him fresh for games he thinks Southampton can win, which rules out this match. I’d wait for the team news before betting on him, but 13/2 for him to be the last goalscorer may be appealing, as he may make another late appearance with the Saints looking to save the game.
As the form guide suggests one team will fail to score, I’ll naturally go for Chelsea to win to nil at 13/10. Put that in a cockney double with my earlier Spurs suggestion, and the odds are over 7/1. How do you like them apples and pears?
* All odds correct at time of posting.