FOR great escape artists Wigan it looks like their Premier League show may finally be over. But they will cast their relegation worries aside tomorrow when they face Manchester City at Wembley in the FA Cup final – even if it looks like being an entirely predictable affair.
We tipped up City at 11/2 back in January and it is clear where the bookies have put their faith. City are as short as 2/5 with Coral and it is hard to dispute their level of favouritism given the gulf between the local rivals.
Last season’s champions, with 75, have more than double Wigan’s 35-point haul in the top flight this term and are gunning for their third major trophy in as many seasons after winning this competition in 2011.
Roberto Mancini’s men have also won seven straight contests against the Latics – without conceding a single goal in the process. However, not all of those victories have been walkovers and there is every chance that this one will be closer than the odds suggest.
Wigan have developed a record of suffering defeat by the narrowest of margins with one 1-0 reverse clocked up in each of the last three seasons against City. The most recent of those came at the Etihad Stadium only a few weeks ago and I think this game will follow the blueprint laid out in that match.
Roberto Martinez’s troops were able to contain their more esteemed hosts all the way until the 83rd minute, when a Carlos Tevez strike earned the three points. Wigan had enjoyed almost an equal share of possession and corners and managed twice as many shots on target.
At 11/4 with Coral, the half-time draw / full-time City double result is a tempting proposition. That was how proceedings unfolded in City’s last final appearance against Stoke, when Yaya Toure’s 74th minute goal proved to be the difference between the teams.
Another 1-0 result would be the third in four years after another heavy favourite, Chelsea, only managed that outcome when facing Portsmouth in 2010. The 1-0 City win is available at 7/1 with Coral and spread bettors are advised to sell total goals with Sporting Index at 2.9.
Also tomorrow, Chelsea can rubber-stamp a top-four finish. They travel to Villa Park knowing that victory will take them six points clear of Tottenham, at least until their London rivals play Stoke on Sunday, and that will be good enough to finish above Spurs owing to the Blues’ vastly superior goal difference.
Drawing with Spurs at Stamford Bridge was a far better result for the home side and it means they can play without much pressure in the lunchtime game against Aston Villa, who are now all but mathematically safe from the drop after reaching the magical 40-point mark.
Chelsea walloped Villa 8-0 in their previous meeting back in December and, while this one is likely to be closer, I don’t anticipate Rafael Benitez having too many sleepless nights about the visit to the West Midlands.
Priced at 10/11, Chelsea are a confident selection.
Draw HT / City FT at 11/4 with Coral
Manchester City to beat Wigan 1-0 at 7/1 with Coral
Sell total goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index
Chelsea to beat Aston Villa at 10/11 with Coral