FA Cup Final 2015 Preview: Aston Villa v. Arsenal

May 23rd, 2015 Betting Tips, Previews

FA CupThe FA Cup is the oldest domestic footballing competition in the world, pitting the best of all clubs belonging to the Football Association against each other on a level playing field for the cup. Formed in 1871, the competition started with just 15 teams competing, with Wanderers beating Royal Engineers 1-0 in front of a crowd of 2,000 spectators. Today, the FA Cup attracts over 700 different teams, and crowds of up to 90,000 could well be expected to turn out for the final.

With the date fixed for 30 May, this years finalists, Aston Villa and Arsenal, are gearing up for the game of their lives to lift the trophy, and to secure the incredibly exciting and lucrative prospect of European football next year. Most pundits would call Arsenal at this stage. But with Arsenal already all-but assured European football next season, and the current holders of the FA Cup after they defeated Hull City in last season’s final, there’s an argument that the upset could be within reach.

Winners and Losers

Most Wins: Arsenal – 11 time winners, Aston Villa – 7 time winners
Most Cup Final Runner Ups: Arsenal – 7 times, Aston Villa – 3 times

The FA Cup has a long track record of upsets and unexpected results, and in large part this is what makes the FA Cup such an exciting competition to be part of. In 2014, a largely underperforming Wigan dumped out reigning Premiership champions Manchester City at the quarter final stage, going well beyond their expectations. But when you start to look at the record of even lower league teams in the FA Cup’s exciting history, there are even more reasons for Villa to take hope.

In 2006 Nuneaton used to play their football in the Conference North. Thanks to a big-money draw in the cup, the club had the chance to host Steve McLaren’s Middlesbrough, who they held to an incredible 1-1 draw. In 1992, the Gunners were victims themselves, this time at the hands of fourth division opponents Wrexham, who pulled out a stunning 2-1 victory over a considerably superior Arsenal side.

Crazy Gang

Even the final has had its surprising results. In 1988, minnows Wimbledon took on the mighty, in-form Liverpool. The ‘crazy gang’ dumfounded even the most far-sighted pundits with their 1-0 victory, which goes down in cup history as one of the most exciting, unexpected FA Cup final results on record. So could we be in for another shock this year? Let’s look at how the two teams stack up.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa are this season’s surprise package in the FA Cup. Currently sitting at around 16th in the Premiership table, Villa still have work to do to make sure they don’t get relegated. New leadership, in the form of former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood appears to have galvanised the Villains campaign this season, from the brink of an otherwise disastrous year at Villa Park.

Aston VillaFor Aston Villa, winning the FA Cup means guaranteed European football, as well as a once in a generation chance to lift the cup. However, with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal standing in their path, there is no doubt Villa have a battle on their hands.

Benteke will as always prove dangerous, as he was against Liverpool in the semi-final. Arsenal will need to take precautions to guard against the physical attacking threat he poses, and with a defensive line that hasn’t quite clicked since the days of Tony Adams and co, there’s every possibility Benteke could be the difference on the day.

Jack Grealish is another exciting talent in the Villa dressing room. The young English/Irish midfielder has the ability to work magic in the midfield area, but the 19 year-old will face a stern test opposite an accomplished Arsenal midfield, and may find it difficult to shine through if he’s included in the starting lineup on the day.

Villa are certainly far from favourites for this competition. But few would have forecast them in the final, and for Aston Villa’s players, there will be few opportunities as clear for them to lift silverware.

Goals Scored This Season: 26
Goals Conceded This Season: 48
Average Season Score: 0-1 (loss)

Arsenal

Last year’s FA Cup winners Arsenal are clear favourites to lift the cup again. A recent run of strong form, coupled with a league ranking that almost guarantees European football next season puts Arsene Wenger’s side firmly in the driving seat over lower-mid table Villa.

ArsenalArsenal will play in their yellow and blue away kit, after Villa won the toss to decide who plays in home colours. But with Arsenal fans set to occupy the same end of the stadium as their semi final victory over Reading, this will feel like anything but an away game.

With Sanchez, Ozil, Welbeck, Walcott, Wilshere and others all at their disposal, there is no double Arsenal will be an attacking force on the day. With recent strong defensive displays to add to the list, it would be a brave move to bet against Arsenal. With the FA Cup Arsenal’s only remaining chance of silverware this season, and the potential for back to back cup wins, no one should doubt the hunger Wenger and the team will have to bring the trophy back to the Emirates.

Goals Scored This Season: 63
Goals Conceded This Season: 32
Average Season Score: 2-1 (win)

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

There’s still football to be played between now and the final, and there is still the potential for a lot to change, in terms of player fitness and form. For many football fans, the day itself will be completed by betting on the result, or on specific outcomes throughout the final, adding to the tension and excitement of the day. Of course, there are those who will back Arsenal or Villa out of fan loyalty, and some bets will be more wishful thinking than reasoned prediction. However, there are some betting opportunities you might like to consider before putting your money where your mouth is.

Our prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

We think Arsenal are more likely to triumph on the day. If you’re a Villa fan who can’t quite bring themselves to bet against Tim Sherwood’s men, you could try and investigate alternative bets to ensure you’re at least cash positive on the day. Both teams to score, or even a Benteke/Sanchez scoring double seems quite likely, and UK sports betting sites are offering decent odds on these outcomes if you fancy a flutter. We especially recommend the betting exchange at Betfair along with other top Uk betting sites also offering matched free bets, live betting or even live streaming.

Of course, you might also believe in the underdog story, and the destiny of Villa to lift the FA Cup and shed a little brightness on an otherwise dark season. And with the FA Cup’s track record of unpredictability and upsets, we could well be in for an entertaining 90 minutes of football.

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