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Previewing the 2018 FA Cup Final – What Are the Best Bets to Make?

| May 17, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Chelsea vs Manchester United|Chelsea vs Manchester United

Most top teams in Europe are done for this season, and many of the players are looking at the World Cup in Russia. There are a couple of exceptions, though.

The UEFA competitions are not completed, and the final of the world’s oldest tournament, the English FA Cup, is yet to be played.

Manchester United will face Chelsea on the new Wembley this Saturday, and the Red Devils will try to tie Arsenal by winning the trophy for the 13th time. Both teams had a rough season, and this is their last chance to salvage the year by winning a trophy.

It’s time to take a closer look at the chances of each and see if the bookies provide some value.


After winning the English Premier League and reaching the FA Cup final in his first season in charge of Chelsea, Antonio Conte is running into all sorts of problems this time around. The Blues have found it hard to score goals, and defense is an issue too.

As a result, Chelsea finished only fifth in the league and won’t play in the Champions League next season. The manager is most probably going after complaining about the transfers multiple times during the year.

Probably the best example of the chaos within the club was the 3-0 demolition at the hands of Newcastle in the last EPL game of the season. Chelsea still had the chance to grab a place in the Champions League but looked lost against the Magpies.

The future of the club is uncertain, but the FA Cup final could lift the supporters if Chelsea manages to win it.

I suspect the motivation of the players and the managers should be at its highest for this game, and there are a couple of other things that could work in Chelsea’s favor.

For a start, the arrival of Olivier Giroud has lifted the team’s performance in attack. The French striker has scored a couple of goals that kept the club in the CL battle up to the very last game.

He was also instrumental in the win against Southampton in the FA Cup semifinal. Finally, Giroud seems a good fit for Chelsea’s key player, Eden Hazard. The Belgian was in poor form but is finding his feet after the arrival of the former Arsenal player.

The solid performances of Giroud and the slump of Alvaro Morata should result in a starting spot for the Frenchman. He also loves Wembley and has won 3 FA Cups with Arsenal already, assisting for the winning goals of Aaron Ramsey in two of them.

Manchester United

On paper, Manchester United had a much better season than Chelsea. The Red Devils finished second in the league, but the difference with the noisy neighbors was huge. Mourinho’s men were 19 points behind City at the end of the season, which is one of the largest margins ever.

Pep Guardiola’s team broke all kinds of records and was head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the league. Still, Mourinho spent tons of money in the past couple of transfer windows and still looks miles behind. This has put immense pressure on the manager and the players.

You can easily tell that no one in the club seems as happy

as they could be.

Mourinho is constantly scrutinizing his men, the young guys are not getting that many chances, and the stars are not performing. The situation of Paul Pogba sums up the whole atmosphere in Manchester United.

The Frenchman has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality, but not nearly enough for the fans or the manager to be happy. He often seems lost, as does the whole team.

There weren’t many games where United looked balanced. You would often see the team focus on defending too much and not creating nearly enough chances at the other end.

This is something many supporters were vocal about.

As it stands, Mourinho’s future still looks safe, but this season is a failure so far. The Portuguese will be desperate to win the FA Cup, as this will give him some fresh impetus.

Considering the last couple of press conferences of the manager, an overhaul is coming in the summer. A lot of his players will be eager to prove their worth and stay in Manchester. As a result, I can see the team pushing hard for the trophy.

Prediction and Betting Picks

I firmly believe one of the reasons Arsenal won the FA Cup 3 times in the past 4 seasons was the desperation factor. The manager, the players, and the club had gone through a lot of pressure and disappointments. The FA Cups were their chance for redemption, and they took it well.

This year, both of the finalists are in a similar position. For one reason or another, the FA Cup is the last chance to salvage the season for both Chelsea and Manchester United. However, the different path of their managers will play a role.

Since Conte is almost certainly leaving, I feel the Chelsea players will be somewhat under less pressure than their opponents. However, Mourinho is one of the best tacticians in the world when it comes to knockout games.

The match is extremely close, and the bookies tend to agree with that. The odds for both teams are almost identical, with Manchester United only a slight favorite. I would say that it’s extremely hard to predict the full-time result of this match.

This is why I won’t be looking at this particular betting market and will try to find value in other places. I have a couple of suggestions in this regard, so here we go.

Half with Most Goals – Second @ 2.10

This market might have different names depending on your bookmaker. It doesn’t really matter, though, as the main idea here is that there will be more goals in the second 45 minutes of the FA Cup final.

I believe the pressure in both camps and the style of the managers will tell in the first half. Both Chelsea and Manchester United will be eager to keep it simple and not concede a goal. The game should open a bit in the second half, so the price of 2.10 seems like a good value.

Game to Be Decided After Penalties @ 5.50

This pick is for the more adventurous punters out there. The FA Cup Final hasn’t seen a penalty shootout since 2006 when Liverpool beat West Ham. That’s more than 10 years now, but there are a couple of logical reasons behind that.

For a start, there were many finals with a clear favorite because one of the top teams in England was facing a surprising finalist such as Crystal Palace in 2016, Aston Villa in 2015, and Hull City in 2014.

Despite the gap in the quality of the teams in many of the recent FA Cup finals, 10 of the last 11 have been decided by a single goal margin. That suggests that this game is almost always a tight affair.

And if you look at Chelsea and Manchester United this season, it’s hard to find a favorite. When you add the tactical masterminds at the helm of both clubs, the draw in both regular and extra time is certainly not out of the question.

Odds of 5.50 suggest a probability of 18% for the game to reach the penalties. I believe the chance is a bit higher, so there is positive expected value there, and this is my second selection.

Final Words

I don’t expect the most entertaining FA Cup Final this year, but it will be a tactical battle between two wounded beasts. Chelsea and Manchester United have enough quality, so the game should be interesting.

On top of that, it might have a heavy impact on the faith of both players and managers from the two clubs. This is the main reason I will definitely be tuning in. Well, that and to see how my bets turn out!

If you want to follow my picks or make your own selections, make sure you use a reputable and respectable online betting site.

Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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