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Chelsea can book repeat Wembley trip

ASTON VILLA v/s CHELSEA
TOMORROW – 5.00PM ITV1
CHELSEA have been on fire in recent weeks, since losing to Inter Milan, and their win at Old Trafford last weekend means they are now a best-priced 8/13 with William Hill to clinch a first Premier League title in four years. They have scored 14 goals in their last three games and seven of those came against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.

It has been a testing time for Martin O’Neill recently and there are rumours that he will be leaving at the end of the season. He was mightily disappointed to lose against Manchester United in the Carling Cup final and if his side repeat their second half performance from Stamford Bridge in tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final, he will be set for yet more Wembley heartbreak.

Although the Villans are still in the hunt for the fourth Champions League spot, that is looking increasingly unlikely as they have suffered from their now seemingly annual drop in form towards the end of the season. They have a small squad which increases the risk of burnout and you would have to worry that the 7-1 thrashing could have left its mark psychologically on the players. It is very rare for one of O’Neill’s sides to receive such a drubbing and you can be certain he will be looking to tighten up their defence tomorrow.

Villa have generally been very strong defensively this season – aside from their defeat at Chelsea, they have only conceded 12 goals in 15 away games. Richard Dunne has been a great buy and he leads from the back which will be necessary here, but he is up against the most in-form attack in the league.
Chelsea are a best priced 8/13 on Betdaq which actually looks very decent considering their record in this competition and at Wembley. Carlo Ancelotti would love to win the double in his first season at the club and you can be certain that he will take this game seriously. Semi-finals between the top sides are rarely free flowing encounters, though, so a reasonably tight contest looks on the cards and I fancy the 2-0 scoreline at 13/2 with William Hill.

Sporting Index are quoting goals at 2.8-3.0 and that looks a decent sell to me. A cagey start will see that price come down which may give you the chance to close out at half-time.

POINTERS...
Chelsea to win at 8/13 on Betdaq
Chelsea to win 2-0 at 13/2 with William Hill
Sell total match goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index

TOTTENHAM v/s PORTSMOUTH
SUNDAY – 4.00PM ITV1
HARRY REDKNAPP faces his old club at Wembley in the second FA Cup semi-final of the weekend and Tottenham are as short as 2/9 favourites with William Hill. They haven’t contested the final since 1991 and have lost in five semi-final appearances since the Premier League began. Three of those were in 90 minutes and the other two in extra-time, but their last one was nine years ago and two of those defeats were against local rivals Arsenal.

The goals have tended to flow when Spurs have come up against Premier League opposition in the FA Cup recently. Regardless of venue, nine of the last 12 since 2005 have produced at least three goals. Portsmouth have had a shaky defence this season and that could lead to this being the highest scoring of the two semis. As a top flight side they have never failed to score against another Premier League outfit in the FA Cup and six of their last nine such games have seen a minimum of three goals.
Looking at more recent form and it is obvious why Spurs are clear favourites in this game. Redknapp has clearly set his sights on lifting a trophy this season and it almost appears that this competition is a priority over finishing fourth. He is one of the best cup managers around, but I can’t recommend backing them at 3/10 and would prefer to have a few quid on both teams to score at 4/5 with Bodog.co.uk.

If there is an early goal this game could really open up and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Spurs register a high scoring win. Total goals are quoted at 3.0-3.2 with Sporting Index and that looks like a decent buy to me.

POINTERS...
Both teams to score at 4/5 with Bodog.co.uk
Buy total match goals at 3.2 with Sporting Index

MANCHESTER CITY v/s BIRMINGHAM
SUNDAY – 4.00PM - SKY SPORTS 1
MANCHESTER City are hitting form at exactly the right time in their quest for the final Champions League spot. Carlos Tevez has been in inspired form and the way they are playing suggests they should be able to last home. Roberto Mancini seems to have found the answer to his problems and they certainly haven’t had any issues finding the net in recent weeks.

City have scored nine goals in their last two games and eight of their last 14 home fixtures have seen a minimum of three goals. In fact, four of their last six at Eastlands against middle-third opponents have produced at least four goals, so we could be set for another goal feast.

Birmingham have had an excellent season, but they’ve lost their way slightly on their travels recently – losing five of their last six. There have been at least three goals in five of those games and the same is true in all five of their away contests at top-half sides this season. Their last victory at the Sky Blues was in 1998 and it looks unlikely that will change on Sunday.

Mancini’s side have won 10 of their 15 home games this season and they should be able to make it 11 against Blues. I can’t suggest anything other than a home win at 4/9 with Boylesports and I will be having a small bet on the 3-1 home win at 12/1 on Betdaq.

POINTERS...
Man City to win at 4/9 with Boylesports
Man City to win 3/1 at 12/1 on Betdaq
Buy total match goals at 3.1 with Sporting Index