Crystal Palace: 7/4, The Draw: 11/5, Watford: 19/10
The odds masters envisage the first Wembley meeting between these sides since the 2012/13 Championship play-off final to follow a similar trajectory as the previous duel.
Palace prevailed on that particular afternoon via an extra-time Kevin Phillips penalty and have assumed 3/4 favouritism to assure the Golden Boys of another miserable afternoon under the arch by booking an FA Cup final spot.
Even-money says Watford secure a return to the home of football in May by overcoming the Eagles via any means and, for many wager-makers, this will make them the superior bet on account of how little there is between the teams.
They’ve each won a meeting apiece this term, prevailing by a single goal margin on both occasions, while their respective form ledgers are littered with losses.
Alan Pardew’s men have surrendered the spoils in five of their last 12 across all competitions, though have recently improved to lose just one of their last five, whereas their Hertfordshire adversaries have been bested on as many instances over their last dozen.
With both sides a long way short of their most stellar standard and with so much at stake, an FA Cup semi-final for the ages is certainly not on the cards.
That much is easy to predict, but ascertaining who is going to come out on top is a much tougher task. So, without further ado…
Win, Lose or Draw
Should the raft of potentially absent Eagles fail to pass their fitness tests, the punting masses are likely to get behind Watford.
Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and the Hornets themselves are the only outfits Palace have overcome without Joel Ward this term, while they’ve been bested in eight of the last nine Premier League matches Yannick Bolasie hasn’t started.
It’s safe to say Pardew will be sweating on the fitness of those two.
Quique Sanchez Flores has a full strength squad to select from, but after failing to win all bar one of their eight Premier League matches since overcoming Palace at Selhurst Park, this may not necessarily be a good thing.
Despite being able to call on super striking twosome Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo in all bar one of these games, they failed to score in half of them, while the sharpest tools in their attacking artillery have found the net just twice between in them in ten across all comps following the aforementioned Selhurst conquest.
These statistics certainly shed some light on Palace’s slight favouritism, as does the fact a string of more prestigious foes lay strewn across their path to the last four.
They beat three Premier League rivals and Reading to reach this stage, while Watford’s only fellow top-flight adversary felled was Arsenal.
A combination of these factors make punting on the favourites the way to go, but as was the case in their play-off final clash, extra time may be required.
Recommended bet: Draw @ 11/5 – Palace to progress @ 3/4
Between them, this pair has played eight FA Cup matches this season and only two (one for each protagonist) have contained more than two goals.
As stated, Watford’s frontmen are out of touch, while only one of Palace’s last six in the league has crossed the three-strike threshold.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 31/50
Who’s Going to Score?
Lesser-spotted goalscorers have been a feature of Palace’s FA Cup campaign – Wilfried Zaha (two), Joel Ward, Martin Kelly, Yohan Cabaye and Frazier Campbell are the individuals responsible for reaching this stage.
Based on this, it might worth looking at one of the longer shots in the any time goal market, with Mile Jedinak (no goals this season), Joe Ledley (one) and James McArthur (two) all edging towards 10/1 territory.
For those who’d prefer to play safe, the out-of-form Ighalo has notched 40% of Watford’s goals in this competition and rates 7/4 shot to register at any point of the contest.
Recommended bet: Jedinak to score at any time @ 7/1
All bar one of the Golden Boys’ five FA Cup goals this season have come after the interval, while their only pre-half-time strike came in the third round.
Recommended bet: Watford to score more goals in the second-half @ 17/10