One of the most special occasions on the English football calendar is the FA Cup Final.
Even though the 2021 edition will miss some of the pomp and circumstance with a limited number of spectators (reportedly 21000) allowed into the home of football, we are in for a magnificent tie.
Chelsea and Leicester City will face off with both sides desperate to claim the oldest Cup competition in all of football.
Sunday 16 August, 2:15am, Wembley Stadium
Chelsea 0 – Leicester 1
In terms of history in this competition, Leicester and Chelsea could not have more different stories.
Chelsea is chasing their ninth win in this competition, their sixth since 2007 and are in the final for the fourth time in five years.
After losing a bruising encounter against Arsenal last year, the Blues will be out to make amends in 2021 with new manager Thomas Tuchel enjoying a fantastic start to life in London.
Leicester fans are still dining out on their unlikely Premier League triumph in 2015/2016 however their fortunes since then have been somewhat mixed.
In the FA Cup, the Foxes have not reached the Final since 1969 and have lost on all four occasions that they played for the trophy.
Can they end their drought and hand Brendan Rodgers his first trophy with the club?
Read on four our FA Cup Final Preview and best bets.
How They Got Here
It would have been more than reasonable to expect Leicester to throw the FA Cup away as they chased a Champions League spot through the Premier League.
Rodgers instead has expertly juggled two competitions with his side currently in third place and chasing their first trophy since the Premier League triumph five years ago.
It was a smooth entry to this tournament in January with a 4-0 win at Stoke followed by a 3-1 win away to Brentford later that month.
Up next was their first all Premier League tie where they hosted and defeated Brighton in dramatic circumstance with a 94th minute winner from Kelechi Iheanacho to set up a clash with Manchester United.
Leicester recorded an impressive 3-1 win in the Quarter Finals to book a Wembley date against Southampton in the Semi Final, which they won thanks to another goal from Iheanacho.
Chelsea also began their campaign with a 4-0 win which came over League Two side Morecambe, before a 3-1 win over Luton in Frank Lampard’s final match in charge.
The Fifth Round saw them made to work by Barnsley in the Fifth Round, coming away with a 1-0 win as Tuchel settled into his new role.
The Blues knocked out Championship-bound Sheffield United in the Quarter Finals before edging Manchester City in a tense Semi Final.
We are not going to be treated to a high scoring, back and forth contest on Saturday night, both of these sides know what their best path to victory is.
Chelsea have conceded just one goal in the tournament and have kept 18 clean sheets in all competitions since their German boss took over (possibly 19 after their match with Arsenal Thursday morning).
Leicester knows that style points do not matter in Cup football and even though they are more than capable of putting four or five past anyone on their day, they will be happy to engage in an arm wrestle here.
Historically these sides tend to play in low scoring matches with two or fewer goals through 90 minutes hitting in seven of their last eight contests in all competitions.
Under 2.5 Goals is not quite an even odds play but there’s still enough value in that market looking at how the two clubs are tracking heading into this match.
In the interests of keeping this preview fair and balanced (or thereabouts), I’ve found an anytime goalscorer play on both sides.
Based on the build up he has received thus far in the preview, it should be no surprise to find out I have landed in Iheanacho for Leicester.
While Jamie Vardy gets plenty of headlines, the Nigerian has been one of the standouts not just in the Leicester side but in the Premier League over the last two months, scoring 13 goals and setting up three more since the start of March.
The former Manchester City man has scored four goals in the FA Cup to date and will be primed for a big game on this stage here.
As for Chelsea, it’s a slightly tougher proposition settling on a player with a number of different striking options for Thomas Tuchel.
Tammy Abraham started off on fire scoring four goals across the Fourth and Fifth Rounds before an injury saw him miss over a month of action and be relegated to a bench role.
Timo Werner is a hot and cold prospect who could have the game or his life or need to be hooked at halftime while Olivier Giroud may not have the chance to make a real impact on the match depending on how it unfolds.
With the uncertainty over who will lead the line, it is worth exploring some of the secondary goalscorers and trying to find some value.
Two names leap out ahead of the pack here, Christian Pulisic dominated last season’s FA Cup Final before being forced off due to injury while Mason Mount has popped up with nine crucial goals for his club this season.
Both players have featured a lot for Tuchel in recent fixtures and are well worth a value play, but I’ll back Mount as he seems to find himself in good positions a bit more often.
Back Kelechi Iheanacho Anytime Goalscorer @ $3.00
Back Mason Mount Anytime Goalscorer @ $4.00
Head to Head
Anytime you back a result in a Cup match, it always needs to come with the caveat of making sure you are clear on which market you are backing.
The Head to Head market is the 90 minute result so a draw is in play, whereas the Lift the Trophy market is just on who will win the match, regardless of if extra time and penalties are needed.
Chelsea have been the better side lately but they have had plenty of trouble getting by Leicester over the last few seasons, winning just two of the last eight matches, one of which came in the 2018 FA Cup in extra time.
As we saw last year as well, just because Chelsea are favoured in the FA Cup does not mean they will live up to that billing.
When you factor in that Leicester will have had an extra 24 hours rest as well, it certainly points towards a very even match with the Foxes able to finish strong.
After much deliberation, I honestly cannot split these sides and think that we will need more than 90 minutes to do it this weekend.
If you want a non-betting tip, Chelsea in extra time but I’ll stick with backing the draw.
Back the Draw (90 Minutes) @ $3.30
No matter the circumstances, the FA Cup Final is always a special occasion, even in the unusual situation of 2020.
It remains the oldest cup competition in all of football and a trophy that both Arsenal and Chelsea would love to get their hands on.
We’re previewing Sunday morning’s FA Cup Final right here so read on for our best bets.
Sunday 2 August, 2:30am, Wembley Stadium
Arsenal 2 – Chelsea 1
It’s a rematch of the 2017 FA Cup Final where Arsenal stunned newly crowned Premier League champions Chelsea to claim a record 13th title on the back of Per Mertesacker’s herculean efforts.
Of course things are a whole lot different heading into this match, starting with the states of the two clubs.
The Gunners are in the midst of a major transition, having just finished in eighth place in the recently concluded Premier League campaign and the futures of several players up in the air as new boss Mikel Arteta puts his stamp on the squad.
Chelsea on the other hand enjoyed a strong season in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge of the club where he made his name as a player.
After qualifying for the UEFA Champions League on the final day of the season, Chelsea will now look to cap their season with a trophy.
In the Premier League this season, Chelsea defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the first meeting at the Emirates with late goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham before a 10-man Arsenal side battled for a point at Stamford Bridge in an enthralling 2-2 draw.
Last season these sides also met in the Europa League Final where Chelsea crushed a flat Arsenal team 4-1 in Azerbaijan.
How They Got Here
While Arsenal’s Premier League form was up and down, they seemingly found another gear when it came to this competition.
After grinding out a 1-0 win over Championship side Leeds in the third round, Arsenal defeated Premier League rivals Bournemouth 2-1 in the fourth round and were then drawn to face League One side and 2008 FA Cup champions Portsmouth, whom they defeated 2-0.
Following the COVID enforced break, Arsenal’s quarter final with Sheffield was held after the season resumed and it was a late Dani Ceballos goal that got them home before a memorable semi final win over Manchester City two weeks ago to send the club to its 21st FA Cup Final.
Chelsea on the other hand brushed aside Nottingham Forest 2-0 in the third round before seeing off a gallant Hull 2-1 in the fourth round before a memorable fifth round win over Liverpool sent them to the quarter finals.
In said quarter final they saw off Leicester 1-0 before a commanding 3-1 semi final win over Manchester United gave them a chance to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2018.
If nothing else, Arsenal and Chelsea tend to produce plenty of goals in their clashes… admittedly usually just for Chelsea but there’s value to be had backing a similar match to unfold at Wembley.
In five of the last six standalone, competitive matches we have seen Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals hit and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a market that will allow you to back that outcome.
There’s plenty of attacking talent (not to mention defensive fragility) on both teams so don’t be at all surprised if this match turns into a case of “last team to score wins”.
If we’re expecting goals in this match, then there’s value to be found in the Anytime Goalscorer market.
We’ll start off on the Chelsea side since that’s where the favourite lies in Frenchman Olivier Giroud.
He might not be the best striker to take to the pitch on Sunday morning but he has a knack for scoring those crucial goals for his club, no matter who it is.
Not to mention, if you’re the sort of person who is amused by these sorts of things, wouldn’t it be fitting for him to score against his former club in a final again?
Back Olivier Giroud Anytime Goalscorer @ $2.30
Meanwhile, we’re not exactly going out on a limb backing Arsenal’s talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to get on the scoresheet but in an Arsenal side with few true elite players, he is perhaps the one.
His brace got Arsenal over the line against Manchester City, he is the man for the big occasion, or just any occasion as evidenced by his 68 goals in all competitions over the last two seasons.
If the Gunners are going to win this one, they need Aubameyang to be Batman in a team of Robins.
Back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Anytime Goalscorer @ $2.63
Head to Head
In just about any other match, you could take Chelsea without a second thought but it’s hard to ignore the fact Arsenal are the FA Cup specialists.
Even when things are at their most chaotic for they club, there’s something about Wembley that seems to bring out the best in them.
There is no chance they do this in a canter, it will be scrappy, maybe not overly pretty and undoubtedly frustrating to watch, but in a situation like this, I’ll back Mikel Arteta to get the best out of his side as they claim FA Cup number 14.
Back Arsenal to Lift the Trophy @ $2.20
Sunday 19 May, 2:00am, Wembley Stadium
Manchester City 6 – Watford 0
Manchester City goes into the 2019 FA Cup Final looking to complete a domestic treble after taking out the Premier League last weekend.
They last won the FA Cup in 2011 and famously lost to Wigan in 2013.
Watford on the other hand have defied expectations to make it back to Wembley for the first time since their 1984 defeat to Everton.
Even though City goes into the FA Cup Final as heavy favourites, there’s still plenty of value to be found in this one.
While we all dream about a close, high scoring FA Cup Final, chances are this game will be a grind as both sides set up not to lose.
City haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard the way you would expect a Pep Guardiola side to lately.
Since blasting Chelsea 6-0 back in February, their goals have dried up.
In that time they have scored two or fewer goals in eight of 13 domestic matches and they may look to suffocate Watford out of this rather than trying to outscore them.
Considering they went four games without conceding a goal, that run was ended by Brighton at the weekend, they are a very good chance to keep a clean sheet here.
Dating back to February, they have kept clean sheets in all bar nine of their 22 matches in all competitions
Because of that, I’ll back Under 2.5 Goals in this match, which has hit in six of their last eight in the Premier League.
Anytime Goalscorer Market
Someone is going to have to score for City so naturally you think of Sergio Aguero.
He’s only scored twice in the FA Cup this season but has been in strong form lately, finding the back of the net in three of City’s last six matches and has seven goals in his last ten appearances.
Even at under even money, I’ll back him to score on the big stage.
All of the numbers say this FA Cup Final is only going to go one way and that is to Manchester.
Under the Abu Dhabi ownership, they have never dropped a game against Watford, winning ten straight and they go into this game expecting another victory.
Add in a 14 game winning run in the Premier League and even in a one-off Cup Final setting, City will be hard to stop.
As we mentioned before, this game might be a tight, low scoring affair so whoever wins could very well take it out with a clean sheet.
That’s where the value is for a City win here, so I’ll take them to win a low scoring affair.
Back Manchester City to Win to Nil @ $1.91
FA Cup Final Same Game Multi
Sunday 20 May, 2:15am, Wembley Stadium
Chelsea 1 – Manchester United 0
As one of the two biggest events in London on Saturday, Chelsea and Manchester United will go head to head in the FA Cup Final for the first time since 2007.
Chelsea’s campaign got off to a rough start, needing penalties in a third round replay to get past Norwich before 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Newcastle and Hull respectively got them into the last eight.
Jamie Vardy sent their quarter final against Leicester to extra time before a Pedro winner sent them to Wembley for a semi-final date with Southampton.
Midseason signing Olivier Giroud (fresh off winning three of the last four FA Cups with Arsenal) scored an exceptional goal and Alvaro Morata put the game away with ten minutes remaining.
United have enjoyed a much smoother path to the final conceding just once in their five matches so far and winning every match in the prescribed 90 minutes with Romelu Lukaku being the chief destroyer of opponents.
Their opening game against Derby County finished 2-0 thanks to late goals from Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku.
Back to back away wins followed that with a 4-0 victory at Yeovil Town and a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town booked their spot in the quarter finals.
A 2-0 win over Brighton sent them to the semi-finals where Alexis Sanchez does what Alexis Sanchez does, scores at Wembley as they beat Tottenham 2-1.
Speaking of Sanchez, he loves playing at Wembley, including games with Chile and Arsenal, he has scored eight goals in eight appearances in the England national team’s stadium.
He bagged a double in his Wembley debut for Chile in 2013 as they beat England 2-0 before playing a crucial role after signing for Arsenal in 2014.
In the FA Cup he has taken it to another level, scoring a double in the 2015 semi-final against Reading as the Gunners won 2-1 in extra time before backing it up with a rocket in Arsenal’s 4-0 Final triumph.
Last season he scored the extra time winner in the semi-final before opening the scoring in the final (coincidently against Chelsea).
He has failed to score on just two occasions at Wembley, in the 2014 Community Shield, his competitive debut for Arsenal, and in United’s Premier League loss to Tottenham in February.
Thankfully for United supporters, he found his touch again in the semi.
With a record such as that you have to back him to score again in this game.
Back Alexis Sanchez Anytime Goalscorer @ $3.50
What is more important however is the winner of the trophy, since that is what they are playing the game for.
Both sides have been maddeningly inconsistent all season with Chelsea’s holes on full display in their Premier League finale defeat at Newcastle.
United closed the season in indifferent form, with just three wins from their last six games.
This has the makings of an even final with the two meetings between the teams being split down the middle.
Chelsea won at Stamford Bridge, while Manchester United claimed the Old Trafford encounter.
The impact of both managers cannot be understated here as both will set up teams with a defensive focus, looking to stifle the creativity on the other side.
An early goal should really open this game up and it won’t be a repeat of the A-League Grand Final with just one goal deciding the game, these attackers are just too good to be kept quiet.
Extra time would not be a surprise but I am backing Chelsea to get the job done here.
Back Chelsea to Lift the Cup @ $1.95
Chelsea were in control of the English Premier League for the majority of the season and they have the chance to complete the Domestic Double when they take on Arsenal in the 2017 FA Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday morning.
Chelsea will go into the FA Cup Final as clear favourites, but they face an Arsenal side that has found a semblance of their best form in the second half of the season.
Will Chelsea capture the double or will Arsene Wenger secure Arsenal some much-needed silverware? We have analysed both teams and our complete 2017 FA Cup Tips can be found below.
Sunday 28 May, 2:30am, Wembley Stadium
Arsenal 2 – Chelsea 1
How They Got There
Chelsea started their FA Cup campaign with a comfortable win over Peterborough United and they were far too strong for Brentford in the Fourth Round.
They overcame Wolverhampton to set-up a quarter-final clash with Manchester United and they won that 1-0 before they upstaged Tottenham 4-2 in an epic FA Cup Semi-Final.
Arsenal were not particularly convincing against Preston North End in the Third Round, but they were dominant against Southampton before they beat non-league side Sutton United in the Fifth Round.
Arsenal dispatched another non-league side Lincoln City in the Quarter-Finals and an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra-time against Manchester City sent them to Wembley for a tilt at another FA Cup Final.
Chelsea and Arsenal met in the English Premier League on two occasions this season.
Arsenal were outstanding against Chelsea when they won 3-0 in their first meeting this season, but that game proved to be the turning point for Chelsea and they lost only a couple more games.
They played again at Stamford Bridge in February and Chelsea cruised to a 3-1 victory, with the only Arsenal goal coming in injury time.
Chelsea have had a clear upper hand over Arsenal in recent memory and the Gunners have won just one of their past 12 games against their rivals.
Chelsea not only won the English Premier League title, but they were one of the best betting sides in the League.
They were a profitable betting play across every metric and they proved particularly tough to beat as favourites – finishing the season with a very healthy 29.3 percent profit.
This was certainly not the case for Arsenal and they ended up as a narrow losing betting proposition in the English Premier League this season.
Their record as home favourites was strong, but they did not win many games whatsoever as underdogs – although they did finish the season with a wet sail.
Chelsea have been the dominant team in the English Premier League all season long and they should really prove too strong for Arsenal.
Arsenal will go into the 2017 FA Cup Final without key defender Laurent Koscielny and they have been badly exposed when he is not in their side this season.
It really would not surprise if this ended up being something of a rout and Chelsea are an excellent bet to record a comfortable victory.
Back Chelsea To Beat The Line (-1 Goal)
The FA Cup may have lost its lustre somewhat in recent years, but the FA Cup Final remains one of the most anticipated events on the international sporting calendar.
It is always interesting when we have a David vs Goliath like showdown in the FA Cup Final and even though both Manchester United and Crystal Palace are both English Premier League sides, there is very little doubt that most experts believe that the final is Manchester United’s to lose.
Can Manchester United win the FA Cup for a record-equally 12th time or can Crystal Palace score an upset win and lift the trophy for the first time?
Sunday 22 May, 2:30am, Wembley Stadium
Crystal Palace 1 – Manchester United 2
How They Got There
Manchester United required an injury time penalty to beat Sheffield United in the 3rd round before they scored comfortable victories over Derby County and Shrewsbury Town.
They required a replay to get past West Ham in the sixth round and they waited until the last possible moment before they scored the winner against Everton in the semi-finals.
Crystal Palace scored upset wins over Southampton, Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur to set up a sixth round clash with Championship side Reading, which they won in fairly comfortable fashion.
Their semi-final with Watford was hotly contested, but a second half goal from Connor Wickham was enough to secure them a second ever FA Cup Final.
Crystal Palace and Manchester United met in the English Premier League on two occasions this season.
Manchester United recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace when the two sides played at Old Trafford less than two months ago, but they played out a scoreless draw when they met earlier in the season.
The Red Devils have dominated Crystal Palace since the London-based club returned to the English Premier League and they won the four previous meetings played between the two sides.
Crystal Palace have only qualified for the one previous FA Cup Final, but in that fixture they played Manchester United and were able to force a replay following a 3-3 draw, but Manchester United claimed the Cup with a 1-0 victory.
Manchester United were a disappointing betting side throughout the English Premier League season and they finished their campaign with just 16 wins from their 33 fixtures as favourites for a sizeable loss.
However, they did improve in the second half of the season and backing Manchester United in the past 18 games of their campaign would have seen you walk away with a handy profit.
Crystal Palace did not win when they were expected to during the English Premier League, but they were a very profitable betting team as underdogs and they finished with a record of 6-6-5 in games as underdogs away from their home ground.
However, the majority of their big upset wins came in the first half of the season and they did fall in a hole at times during the season.
I expect this to be a fairly dour contest as neither team will be key to keen to take many chances and Louis Van Gaal gets particularly defensive on the big occasion.
Manchester United are clearly favourites and they do look like a decent bet at their current quote of $1.75, but I am keen to add some value to that bet by taking advantage of the $2.50 that is on offer for Manchester United to win to nil.
Crystal Palace has scored in just one of their past six games against Manchester United and I don’t expect that to change this weekend.
Recommended Bet: Manchester United To Win To Nil @ $2.50