What a week of football. We could have done without Messi’s fourth goal which scuppered a very promising punt on a 3-1 win for Barcelona. But if a bet is to be ruined, an outstanding performance by the greatest player of our generation is just about the best consolation.
This weekend we have six Premier League fixtures and two FA Cup semi finals at Wembley. As far as difficult games to predict go, FA Cup semi finals rank pretty highly, but I will take a look at where the best value lies for those looking for a speculative punt.
Aston Villa V Chelsea
First of all, a repeat of chelsea’s 7-1 hammering from a fortnight ago looks to be priced at around 150/1. In my opinion you’d be better off throwing your money down the nearest drain.
Aston Villa are looking to reach their second domestic final of the season and will be determined to redeem themselves from that drumming. On this premise, odds of 9/2 for a Villa win are good value.
Following that, all the prices on the correct score market for a Villa win are extremely good value.
A 1-0 win for Villa is priced at 12/1, a 2-1 win at 16/1 and a 2-0 win at 28/1. This is outstanding value for what is likely to be a tight and cagey semi final and if you are confident that Villa will win, get on them at these prices.
Chelsea have found some decent form in recent weeks and will be brimming with confidence after their victory over Manchester United last weekend. Their 7-1 demolition of Villa will also be fresh in the memory of exactly what they can achieve against this opposition.
They looked firmly in control for much of the game against Manchester United a week ago, and if Chelsea can recreate this form from kick-off on Saturday they will be very difficult to beat.
A 2-1 Chelsea win is best priced at 15/2, less than half the odds for the same scoreline in favour of Aston Villa. Despite being a likely final score, these odds represent little value in a game which could easily swing the other way. If you think Chelsea will win, backing them to win 3-1 at 12/1 would be a better punt.
I think both teams will score. After that it is anyone’s guess.
As this is the FA Cup, anything can happen. And in the spirit of the world’s greatest cup competition, I would be inclined to have a punt on the underdogs, Aston Villa to win at 9/2. The correct score is a nightmare to predict but any that see Villa win by one goal represent outstanding value.
A note to bare in mind with Aston Villa in any game is the first goalscorer. Gabby Agbonglahor is always a likely contender and usually scores early on in games, meaning you do not have to wait long for a return. At odds of 8/1 to score first in this game, it has extra value.
Aston Villa to win 2-1 (@ 16/1)
Agbonglahor to score first (@ 8/1)
Tottenham V Portsmouth
Tottenham are understandably massive favourites for this one and it will be an achievement if injury-racked Portsmouth find enough players to turn up at Wembley on Sunday.
Pompey are currently 10/1 to win this game and progress to the FA Cup final, and you can be sure they will put up a solid fight.
If you fancy a punt on a fairytale ending to Portsmouth’s troubled season, you can get odds of 50/1 for them to win 2-0. Even if you think they have enough fight to take it to extra time you can get odds of 9/1 and 25/1 for a 1-1 or a 2-2 draw respectively.
In truth, I cannot see this one going anywhere other than a comfortable win for Tottenham. The only odds that represent any value in the correct score market barring an absolute drumming are Tottenham to win 4-1 at 20/1.
You can gain extra value by betting on the half time correct score. This way, a 2-0 Spurs lead would return odds of 11/2 and a 3-0 lead 18/1.
Tottenham to win 4-1 (@ 20/1)
Tottenham to be leading 2-0 at half time (@11/2)
Blackburn Rovers V Manchester United
Wayne Rooney is actually out of this one which means a return to the midweek hypothesis of goals coming from midfield. Against Bayern I tipped Nani to score first but, despite netting twice, he was beaten to the first goal by Darren Gibson.
This weekend I fancy Nani to build on his outstanding midweek performance and score first against Blackburn on Sunday. At odds of 15/2 again, it is very good value if he starts.
Similarly, If Paul Scholes is back in the starting line up, he might be worth a punt for first goalscorer at 12/1.
I am expecting a tough game for United. Blackburn have been reasonably strong at home this season and have punched above their weight on occasions. I think United will win by one or two goals.
1-0 and 2-0 wins for Manchester United are both priced at 13/2 and represent reasonable value.
Manchester United to win 2-0 (@ 13/2)
Nani to score first (@ 15/2)