Arsenal v Aston Villa
Live on BBC One and BT Sport 1
Match Odds: Arsenal [1.57], Aston Villa [7.0], The Draw [4.4]
Sixteen of the last 21 FA Cup finals have seen only one team find the net
As much as “the purists” blame poor scheduling for the FA Cup final’s diminished status, the main reason it has lost a little lustre this century is that the matches tend to be pretty dull. Last year’s twist-tastic Arsenal v Hull showdown was a once-in-a-decade exception, the first to truly captivate since Liverpool and West Ham’s Millennium Stadium epic in 2006. Arsenal and Aston Villa’s recent history points to a restoration of the one-way traffic trend: the Gunners kept clean sheets in both meetings this season.
Recommended Bet: Back both teams to score? No @ [1.96]
Eight of the last nine FA Cup matches involving Aston Villa have been settled by a one-goal margin
This sequence was started in January 2012 with a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal and even the sole exception against West Brom was a 2-0 victory that occurred due to the combination of an 80th-minute Baggies sending off and an 85th-minute Villa second. Three of Arsenal’s past four FA Cup fixtures either didn’t produce a 90-minute winner or saw the north Londoners prevail by a one-goal margin, with the victims of the latter scenario being as varied as Brighton and Manchester United. Opta impart that all eight FA Cup finals at the new Wembley were won by one goal (two of those after extra time).
Recommended Bet: Back Arsenal to win by one @ [3.6]
Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last three games against Villa
Many are arguing that the Frenchman has to be dropped having gone eight appearances without a goal, but he can offer two convincing cases for his continued selection. One is that he has netted in his previous three clashes with Aston Villa – two of which came when Arsenal didn’t find firing past them as easy as they have this term – striking within 35 minutes on every instance and within eight in two. The other is his flair for the FA Cup, scoring seven and assisting four in seven starts and six career substitute outings in the competition.
Recommended Bet: Back Giroud to score @ [2.4]