The 2019 FA Cup Final: Betting Tips & Famous Final Upsets
There are plenty of so-called football (soccer) experts who will tell you the FA Cup Final is not as special as it used to be.
The match is no longer the only English club fixture to be televised live each year, as it used to be. The big teams focus on the Premier League and the Champions League. Nobody cares about the Cup.
Don’t you believe it!
The FA Cup (below) is the oldest trophy in soccer history. Lovers of the game all over the world can remember every Cup Final they have ever watched.
For fans of Manchester City and Watford, those who trek to Wembley and many more across the globe, the Final on May 18 will be a very big deal indeed.
Who’s going to win?
If you look at the betting markets, this is a one-horse race.
Manchester City are one of the world’s richest clubs. They have retained their Premier League title and have already won the Carabao Cup.
City are as short as 1.25 to win in 90 minutes, with Watford as long as 13.0. But the long history of the FA Cup Final throws up plenty of examples of underdogs upsetting the odds.
You see, English teams never know when to quit.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham reached the final of the Champions League this month after overcoming three-goal deficits, at home to Barcelona and away to Ajax respectively.
That refusal to give up until the final whistle blows is one of the reasons why the English game is watched the world over – and why you can never take a result for granted in England.
So what’s the best bet?
Watford are a mid-table side in the EPL, dozens of points below City. But they have impressed this season with their pace, power and organization.
If they can unsettle City’s passing rhythm and snatch a lead, maybe they could raise the prospect of an old-fashioned shock.
Every logical analysis, however, suggests this is City’s year to lift the famous old trophy. But maybe there’s a value bet out there.
How about Watford to be winning at half-time before City assert themselves and win by the final whistle? You can get 26.0 about that outcome.
When the stakes are high in a soccer match, as they always are in a Cup Final, the potential is there for drama and controversy.
Both squads contain players who have been at the center of contentious incidents over the years.
Troy Deeney (Watford)
Deeney (above) is an old-school striker with the style known to English fans as “rambunctious”. Big, physical and intimidating, he’s also pretty skillful and is a folk hero to fans of the Hornets. Jailed for 10 months in 2012 after assaulting a group of students in Birmingham, Deeney has since spoken movingly about how he has turned his life around.
However, he criticized Arsenal last season for lacking “cojones” – and was then sent off against the Gunners this season for elbowing an opponent in the head.
Andre Gray (Watford)
Gray, another striker, had to apologize in 2016 when homophobic tweets written four years earlier surfaced. He was at Burnley at the time.
Sergio Aguero (Man City)
The Argentine striker (above) is one of the finest players to grace English soccer in recent decades. He’s a wonderful player whose goals have been central to City’s recent success.
But he showed, with a ghastly challenge on Chelsea’s David Luiz that earned him a red card in 2012, that he has a fiery streak. Of course, the fact that David Luiz is from Brazil, Argentina’s biggest rivals in South America, may have had something to do with that incident…
Raheem Sterling (Man City)
The England forward has enjoyed a magnificent season – and a stunning turnaround in the way he is perceived by English soccer fans and the nation’s famously fickle media.
Sterling was portrayed as a poster boy for the “bling” generation of young soccer players. He also came in for criticism from fans even as the national team went all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
But his superb performances on the pitch since then have been mirrored by the growing realisation that here is a mature, eloquent young man.
7 famous FA Cup Final upsets
Watford may be massive underdogs – but they can take heart from some legendary stories of days from the past when the formbook went right out of the window.
- 1901: Sheffield United, who had won the Cup two years before, were strong favorites to beat Tottenham, then a non-league side. But the Londoners held them to a draw in front of 110,000 fans at Crystal Palace and won 3-1 in a replay in Bolton.
- 1927: The only time the famous old trophy has gone outside England. Cardiff City stunned Arsenal with a 1-0 win after a soft shot by Hughie Ferguson squirmed through the grasp of Welsh goalkeeper Dan Lewis.
- 1939: Wolves, second in the league, were heavily fancied to see off Portsmouth, who were in the relegation zone. But the underdogs pulled off a huge shock with an emphatic 4-1 victory, which their manager Jack Tinn ascribed to his “lucky” spats.
- 1973: Leeds United went into the match with defeat seemingly out of the question. They were one of the country’s leading sides, while opponents Sunderland were a Second Division outfit. But the team from the north-east triumphed 1-0 thanks to a goal by Ian Porterfield.
- 1978: When Ipswich were thrashed 6-1 by Aston Villa a week before the final, it confirmed the impression that Arsenal had only to turn up to win. But the unfancied Suffolk side hit the woodwork four times before Roger Osborne fired home the only goal of the match.
- 1988: One of the greatest shocks in English soccer history. Liverpool had just won the league title for the 17th time, while Wimbledon had been in the league for only a decade and were rank outsiders. But the South London side never allowed the favorites to settle and Lawrie Sanchez’s goal sealed an unforgettable 1-0 win.
- 2013: Yet another reason for Watford to have high hopes. The last time Manchester City reached the Cup Final, they were expected to make short work of Wigan Athletic. But the outsiders clung on and stole victory in injury time thanks to Ben Watson’s header. Days later, Wigan became the only side to win the Cup and be relegated from the top division in the same season.