Weblog: The football punter

Thinking of Lambert's Villa helps me doze off

WITH all due respect to Tottenham's tour of Malaysia, the FA Cup final is still the traditional end of the English football season.

Mind you, Spurs beat their hosts 2-1 on Wednesday (two goals, inevitably, from Harry Kane and, almost as inevitably, a Danny Rose own goal) so Arsenal and Aston Villa have plenty to live up to at Wembley on Saturday.

Having analysed the recent form of the cup finalists, I'm pleased to announce that I've narrowed it down to two possible outcomes.
It's either going to be an absolute cracker or an absolute stinker - there are no grey areas when these teams are involved.

Let's start with Villa, whose last ten Premier League results were 4-0, 0-1, 1-3, 3-3, 1-0, 2-3, 3-2, 1-0, 1-6 and 0-1. Simply back under 1.5 goals and over 4.5 goals in all their matches and you're laughing.
And you'll be able to tell if Arsenal are in the mood or not in the first 15 minutes.

They've produced a couple of brilliant performances since the start of April, battering Liverpool and West Brom 4-1.

The Gunners have scored 13 goals in their last eight matches with 11 of those coming in the first half (and one of the two second-half strikes was a Tyler Blackett own goal at Old Trafford, which doesn't really count).

If Villa make it to half-time with the score 0-0, then, the engraver can start scratching their name on the cup.

But given that Arsenal were 4-0 up after 37 minutes against West Brom last Sunday - and Villa were 5-1 down at the break at Southampton the weekend before - that could be a tough task for Tim Sherwood's men.

So I'm putting my money on an exciting final - a 3-1 win for Arsenal and Christian Benteke to score the Villa goal.

Benteke's team-mate Ashley Westwood suggested earlier this week that the Gunners defenders would be "having sleepless nights" about facing the Belgian striker.

Luckily, Arsene Wenger has dealt with that possibility by giving each member of his squad a DVD featuring highlights of Villa's games under Paul Lambert.

I'm feeling a bit sleepy just thinking about it - wake me up when they start singing Abide With Me.

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Match in Focus

17:30 TODAY BBC1

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • There has not been more than a one-goal margin of victory in the last ten FA Cup finals
Expert verdict
Arsenal are red-hot favourites to retain the FA Cup, but the holders face a trickier test than the odds suggest when they take on Aston Villa at Wembley. The Gunners will be reasonably happy with their form in the second half of the season, although they remain capable of chucking in dodgy performances under pressure.