FA Cup Final | Preview and Betting

The FA Cup Trophy

The oldest domestic football competition in the world reaches its climax tomorrow, following six qualifying rounds, six rounds proper, and the semi-finals. It’s been a long time coming, with the Extra Preliminary round having taken place back in August of last year. Since then, a grand total of 760 teams from across England and Wales have seen their dreams fall by the wayside, leaving only 2 to battle it out beneath Wembley’s famous arch. Although no team from below English football’s top tier made it to this year’s final, the divide this year is as wide as is otherwise possible given that the recently-crowned Premier League Champions Chelsea face off against the division’s bottom-placed side, Portsmouth (interestingly, the first time that has ever happened). Here, we look at the betting available as Chelsea bid to retain the trophy they won for the fifth time against Everton last year.

Of course the first bet to look at for any football match is the standard win market. Chelsea are, predictably, huge favourites going into Saturday’s game. Sitting at a best price of 1/5, there’s little value to be had unless you have massive amounts to stake. Pompey, on the other hand, are as long as 29/2 with bwin.com, and 14’s at BetFred, BoyleSports and Victor Chandler. As the old adage goes, form goes out the window in cup matches, and never more so than on final day. Portsmouth showed what a good cup side they are as recently as 2008, when they won the FA Cup under then-manager Harry Redknapp, and they’ve performed well in the tournament this season, putting out no less than 3 top-flight opponents (Sunderland, Birmingham and Tottenham). There’s no doubt that a pound or two at 29/2 would be far from laughable.

But how have the teams fared against each other so far this term? Back in December, the London Blues beat their south-coast counterparts 2-1 at home, while the reverse fixture in March ended in a humiliating 0-5 home loss for Portsmouth. Interestingly, both games were 1-0 to Ancelotti’s men at half time, and that to be repeated on Saturday is available at a decent-enough price of 21-10. Over the 2 games, only Frederic Piquionne managed to breach the Chelsea defence, and you can get 5/1 on him scoring at any time during the final (90 mins only). No goals have been scored before the 23rd minute, so maybe look at the 10/11 on the first goal coming after this point in the game to almost double your money. The same odds are available if you pick the second half to have the most goals, which seems safe seeing as 6 out of 8 have been scored in the second half this season between these two sides.

In all, Chelsea have scored 16 goals in this season’s FA Cup, conceding just 1 along the way. 8/11 on them beating Portsmouth and keeping a clean sheet, while not fantastic odds, seems understandable given that record. Chelsea captain John Terry has been passed fit after a brief metatarsal scare, while Pompey striker Aruna Dindane is a worry with a groin injury but should feature. Ashley Cole is bidding to become the most successful FA Cup player in history, with 5 winners medals already in the bag (3 with Arsenal and 2 with Chelsea).

Should Avram Grant’s men do the unthinkable, it would be the second time this season Chelsea have been knocked out of a cup tournament by a former manager, following on from their Champion’s League exit at the hands of the Special One. But after a tumultuous season of media headlines, administrators and relegation, could Saturday’s Wembley final prove to be the epitome of Cup Magic for the forlorn side? After all, anything can happen on the day…

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