FA Cup big guns look to have safe passage to the final

Arsenal fans can’t have too many complaints this season (Source: Getty)
FOLLOWING what has become a trademark poor start to the season, Arsenal fans can’t have too many complaints as the campaign draws to a close.

The team is closing in on successive FA Cup trophies and, after eight straight league wins, hold on to the slim hope they can catch Chelsea in the race for the title.

While the Gunners are rated 20/1 with Betway to secure a first league championship since 2004, they are 4/5 with the same firm to lift the FA Cup. Sporting Index have them trading at 82.5-84.5 on their 100 Outright Index for the competition (50 points lose semi-final, 75 points runner-up, 100 points winner).

They should easily navigate a way past Championship side Reading at Wembley tomorrow afternoon. With the way Arsene Wenger’s men have been playing of late, a repeat of the high-scoring fixtures that have defined recent meetings between the pair wouldn’t surprise.

There have been an amazing 24 goals in the last three encounters – all Arsenal wins. The 7-5 Capital One Cup win in October 2012, in which Theo Walcott’s hat-trick inspired an incredible comeback from 4-0 down, will live long in the memory.

Olivier Giroud has returned to the side from injury in sparkling form, with 10 goals in his last 11 appearances. The Frenchman’s goal minutes can be bought at 36 and that’s worth a small buy.

Reading have won just one of their last 10 in the Championship and have hit only 44 goals in 42 games overall.

This is a bad time for them to meet the free-flowing FA Cup champions and I’m expecting a comfortable Arsenal win. Sporting Index’s supremacy quote, 1.75-1.95, is a very reasonable buy. This could be a rout, so spread bettors may also want to buy total goals at 3.25.

The wheels have fallen off Liverpool’s revival lately and you won’t catch me lumping on the Reds to beat Aston Villa at 1/2 on Sunday.

Villa have caused plenty of problems for Brendan Rodgers’ charges over the last few years, avoiding defeat in four of the last seven meetings.

Christian Benteke has eight goals in his last six games and will relish the possible opportunity to rile Kolo Toure and Dejan Lovren at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

The Belgian’s goals may keep his club in the Premier League. However, the rest of the team aren’t great. Although it may take a while for the favourites to break Villa down, they should have enough to prevail and make the final.

Betway offer draw half-time/Liverpool full-time at 13/4 and that looks the best play.

■ Pointers…
Buy Olivier Giroud goal minutes at 36 with Sporting Index
Buy Arsenal supremacy at 1.95 with Sporting Index
Draw/Liverpool at 13/4 with Betway