THERE’s a change of pace this weekend as the FA Cup takes centre stage.
The world’s oldest cup competition is back and serving up two heavyweight semi-final clashes at Wembley, while we’ve also got selections for a key clash in the Premier League‘s European race.
Arsenal vs Man City – FA Cup, Saturday 7.45pm
Silverware is at the top of Mikel Arteta‘s wish list.
The Gunners boss comes up against his former employers here and lifting the FA Cup would go a long way to appeasing Gunners fans.
Arsenal‘s run to this point has been solid and unspectacular, seeing off Leeds, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield United.
But now comes their toughest test by far as they go up against reigning holders and last season’s treble winners Man City.
Pep Guardiola‘s men have received a huge boost this week with the news that they’ll play in the Champions League next season.
Sadly for the Gunners, their recent history against the Citizens is shocking.
They’ve lost the last seven meetings in all competitions and have been biffed 3-0 in both matches this season.
Do we reckon they turn the table this time? Nope. And neither do the bookies.
Arsenal are priced up at a huge 8/1 to win in 90 minutes.
Just for a bit of context, League One Portsmouth were only 5/1 to beat Arsenal in this same competition back in March.
It’s a similar story on the qualification markets, with the Gunners a whopping 9/2 to make it through to the final on August 1.
Leave that well alone, but we do like the 4/5 on both teams to score.
Despite not laying a glove on City in the 3-0 loss at the Etihad, a rusty Arsenal had just returned from the enforced lockdown and were not at their best.
And Bournemouth showed that this City side – who have conceded more than Sheffield United this season in the Prem – can be scored past if you’re brave enough.
In a one-off cup tie, Arteta will not let his side go down with a whimper.
Arsenal have netted in every game since that Etihad loss on June 17 – it’s at the other end the problems lie.
As such, back City to win and BTTS at a mammoth 33/20.
De Bruyne already has three goals against Arsenal this season and was absolutely unreal as City tore the Gunners to pieces at the Emirates.
Fresh from a week off, he’s 2/1 to net anytime – £30 for your £10. Get on.
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Tottenham vs Leicester
The Foxes turned up when it mattered against Sheffield United.
Brendan Rodgers’ men had won just one of their last five going into the crunch clash against the Blades – and were still reeling from an embarrassing 4-1 trouncing by Bournemouth just days before.
But they were in a dominating mood though on Thursday and fully deserved the three points, going back into the Champions League places on merit and making sure the race remains in their own hands.
This is the game which could decide which side of that top four line they drop though, with Spurs under Jose Mourinho solid if unspectacular over the last month.
They’ve won back-to-back games against Arsenal and Newcastle, as Harry Kane looked back to his usual self with a brace in the North East.
As a result they’re also well in with a shout at European football next season, albeit on Thursday nights.
Both of these teams on their day can produce fast, flowing, open attractive football.
And they tend to do it against each other too, with the H2H scores revealing a number of terrific games.
In the last six meetings between the sides, there’s been a ridiculous 28 goals and we expect more on Sunday, despite what is on the line.
Over 2.5 goals is a steal at 10/11, with 10 of Leicester‘s 18 away games this season featuring three or more goals.
We see the teams coming out the blocks quickly and would recommended a small play on both teams to score in the first half.
That’s a massive 7/2 and a terrific price considering the history between these two.
When Son Heung-min gets on a roll, he tends to get his goals in bunches.
And that’s exactly what is happening at the moment, with the South Korean forward enjoying a run of two in two.
His last streak – back in January – saw him net six in five games and we reckon he’s a shoe-in for another goal against the Foxes.
At 15/8 to net anytime, he’s by far the value pick.
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Man Utd vs Chelsea- FA Cup, Sunday 5.30pm
This has the potential to be an absolute cracker.
Man Utd‘s fortunes have changed for the better since January and they actually resemble a football team again.
Amazing what you can achieve when you put round pegs in round holes and play your best players in the correct positions.
United haven’t lifted the FA Cup since 2016 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to give fans some silverware after a topsy-turvy last two years.
Chelsea meanwhile have been prolific in this competition since the turn of the century, winning it five times and twice finishing as runners-up.
Frank Lampard‘s men have two extra days to prepare for this one and we expect that to be a big factor.
United had named the same side for FIVE straight games before Thursday’s clash at Palace, but Ole stuck to his guns and made just one enforced change despite the packed schedule.
We reckon the quick turnaround could have a real say on this one at Wembley, where a fast start could be crucial.
United have won all three meetings this season, with the last a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge shortly before lockdown.
Despite that, Chelsea have stepped up in the big games since and have only let themselves down when teams have sat back and asked to break them down.
We’re looking primarily at the losses against West Ham and Sheffield United for examples of that, but remember they’ve beaten Man City, Leicester and Liverpool since March.
The 21/20 on Chelsea making it through to the final is FAR too big, in our opinion.
Lampard loves this competition and will go full strength, while we also expect goals from both sides.
Both teams to score is 7/10 and an easy bet to back, but we also like the even money on Chelsea to win EITHER half.
That’s a massive price in what could be an open game, with United’s defence still under scrutiny despite their excellent recent attacking form.
This could be a cup tie settled on a moment of brilliance – or a set piece.
He’s playing out of his skin regardless and is the main man for Chelsea on penalties and freekicks.
16/5 to net anytime? That’s absolutely huge, netting you £32 profit from a tenner bet.
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*All odds from Ladbrokes and correct at time of publication.