The Premier League season might be over but there’s still some silverware left to play for. Chelsea and Arsenal will make the short trip across London to play at Wembley in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Can Chelsea complete the domestic double or will Arsenal salvage something from their season? Read on for some betting insight.
Very few would have envisaged Chelsea closing in on adding the FA Cup to the Premier League trophy this season after an abysmal showing last year. However, Antonio Conte has worked wonders in his first season and the newly crowned Premier League champions are heavy favourites going into Saturday’s match.
Arsenal, by contrast, have made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. Failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under Arsene Wenger has brought an end to a difficult year in the league for the Gunners. In addition to the poor performances, this campaign has been dominated by questions over the Frenchman’s future.
Live odds for Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Where did it go right? Where did it go wrong?
When Chelsea and Arsenal met for the first time this season, the Gunners dismantled Antonio Conte’s side in a 3-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium. Following that fixture, Arsenal were third in the Premier League and Chelsea eighth - so how did things change so much?
Kante might not have scored 24 goals and assisted 10 like Alexis Sanchez, but he has made 127 tackles, 82 interceptions and has a pass accuracy of 89%.
Many have cited Chelsea’s shift from a back four to a back three as the key to their success and of course, that has played a big part. After that match in late September, the Blues went on a 13 game winning run and conceded just four goals in the process - showing that defensive stability is essential to succeed in the Premier League.
Although Arsenal remained unbeaten for another nine games after their impressive win against Chelsea, they struggled to convert draws into wins and by the turn of the year the Blues were at the top of the table and 18 points clear of Arsenal in fifth - perhaps highlighting how sometimes an FA Cup run can be a distraction.
The difference one player can make
Soccer is a game that is about more than one player. It’s about more than just the 11 on the pitch; it’s about the entire playing squad and coaching staff. However, N’Golo Kante has proven this year how influential one player can be.
Koscielny’s suspension and doubts over Gabriel’s fitness have no doubt influenced the odds but the draw and an Arsenal win will still attract bettors
Having won his second Premier League title in a row, the central midfielder has been named both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year. He might not have scored 24 goals and assisted 10 like Saturday’s opponent Alexis Sanchez, but he has made 127 tackles, 82 interceptions and has a pass accuracy of 89%.
Kante is just the player Arsenal have been lacking in recent years. Mathieu Flamini, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka are just a few examples of players who have tried and failed to fill the ball-winning void left by Patrick Viera in 2005 - they haven’t won the Premier League since then.
How will the FA Cup final unfold?
The contrasting seasons of Chelsea and Arsenal are crucial to what bettors can expect for the FA Cup final on Saturday. Despite the importance of the occasion, Chelsea will be full of confidence and can play as they have done all season. Arsenal, on the other hand, desperately need some silverware to save their season and will be under pressure to deliver.
The last 10 FA Cup finals have averaged 2.1 goals per game.
Critics have labelled Arsenal one-dimensional but there’s no denying the Gunners are one of the best sides at keeping hold of possession and pulling the opposition out of position - they have averaged 56.5% possession this season and completed 515 short passes per game.
However, Chelsea are usually too disciplined to leave spaces in behind and the Gunners may need a plan B if they’re to upset the odds on Saturday. FA Cup finals are quite often a tight affair and with the last 10 finals averaging 2.1 goals per game, under 2.5 goals on Saturday (2.090*) could offer bettors value.
Chelsea’s main threat this season has come from a lethal counter-attack; something that is Arsenal’s main weakness. The Blues will most likely sit back and let the likes of Sanchez and Ozil try to break them down before breaking with speed and power through Eden Hazard, Willian and Diego Costa - Chelsea led the league this year in counter attacking goals with seven.
Chelsea rightfully start as favourites ahead of the FA Cup final. Laurent Koscielny’s suspension and doubts over Gabriel’s fitness have no doubt influenced the odds but there are still reasons why the draw and an Arsenal win will attract bettors.
Live odds movement for Chelsea vs. Arsenal