After a boring week of football news in which nothing remotely interesting happened, we come to the grand annual spectacle that the old-fashioned fan looks forward to like Christmas morning – it’s the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic… sorry, what’s that about Sir Alex Ferguson?
Twenty-four hours before Fergie says goodbye to the Old Trafford crowd, Roberto Mancini has the opportunity to hog the headlines by guiding City to their second FA Cup triumph under his tutelage, and on paper, they have a terrific chance against a team that may be plying their trade in the Championship next season.
Roberto Martinez’s men were all set to open up the relegation battle with a win over Swansea City in midweek, but an unplanned 3-2 defeat at the DW Stadium left the Latics staring into the abyss of the bottom three, relying on at least one win from their last two games and slip-ups elsewhere to retain their Premier League status.
Martinez won’t allow his players to let their league turmoil affect their performance in the final, but will also have to be mindful that they face a terrifically important trip to Arsenal in midweek.
City have nothing to lose though, and for that reason and more, I am very much of the opinion that Mancini will be lifting his third trophy in as many years come Saturday evening.
But what markets should you be looking to take advantage of ahead of the Wembley showpiece?
Here’s five key statistics that might help you make up your mind.
1: Manchester City have conceded just one goal in their five FA Cup clashes this season, and can be backed to keep a clean sheet on Saturday at a price of evens.
3: Callum McManaman is Wigan’s joint top scorer in the FA Cup this season with three goals, along with Jordi Gomez, but as the youngster is the likelier of the two to start, then you may wish to back him at 7/1 to score in normal time.
5: Carlos Tevez is City’s top scorer in this season’s cup with five strikes and can be backed at 9/10 to add to that at Wembley in regular time, or 7/2 to open the scoring.
7: The former Premier League champions have won the last seven meetings between the sides and haven’t conceded a single goal in any of those victories. City can be found at the short price of 3/10 to win the cup in normal time.
67: Wigan have conceded 67 times in the Premier League this season, the joint-most along with relegated Reading, and an average of almost two a game. You can back City to score twice at odds of 11/5.
If you agree that Tevez is the likeliest participant to open the scoring in this one, then you can back the divisive Argentine with the free £20 bet you get for signing up to bwin today.
And if he does score the first goal of the 2013 FA Cup final, then you’ll welcome £90 into your life.
We’ll also refund losing single bets like this (and more) if Sergio Aguero scores two or more goals – see the money-back offer right here.
Follow David on Twitter @whichdave