Sports Betting Weekly

Arsenal v Reading

When: Saturday, 18 April 2015 @ 23:20 (FINISHED)
Where: Wembley Stadium
Having come through their toughest F.A. Cup assignment of the season so far by defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford last month, Arsenal will be somewhat relieved to have drawn the competition’s only remaining non-Premier League side in the semi-finals as they prepare to take on Reading at Wembley Stadium this Saturday.

Currently sitting 18th in the Championship, the Royals are 11 points clear of the relegation places and an insurmountable 24 off the play-offs, making this game undoubtedly their biggest remaining fixture of the 2014/2015 campaign – and manager Steve Clarke will be eager to prevent their season from fizzling out by causing a huge upset here.

Unfortunately for Clarke, his side will be facing Arsenal at precisely the wrong time, with the Gunners having last week set a new Premier League record by winning their eighth consecutive match. Couple that with the fact that Arsenal won the cup last season and are unbeaten in their last 10 fixtures in the competition and it really looks as though Reading will have it all to do at Wembley.

On current prices, the bookies certainly seem inclined to agree, with Arsenal being chalked up as overwhelming 3/10 favourites, a draw after 90 minutes coming in at 5/1 and Reading as long as 12/1 in some places to record an historic win. The Gunners are also 5/6 to retain the trophy for a second year, while Reading are understandably 25/1 outsiders to win the first F.A. Cup in the club’s history.

Arsene Wenger’s men have not locked horns with the Royals in any competition since the 2012/2013 season, but the three times they met that campaign certainly weren’t lacking for goals. The Gunners won all three clashes, beating Reading 4-1 at the Emirates and 5-2 at the Madejski while also memorably dumping them out of the Capital One Cup after coming back from four goals down in a match that ended 7-5. With that in mind, it looks unlikely that this game will finish as a bore draw and we should turn our attentions to the goal and correct score markets to find some value.

Given the last three meetings between the two teams have contributed a grand total of 24 goals, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that backing the overs on 3.5 and 4.5 strikes at 6/4 and 18/5 respectively is likely to be a solid source of value. Furthermore, Arsenal are 3/1 to win by two clear goals – as they have done in three of their last five victories over Reading – or 9/2 to win by a margin of three, which accounts for the other two results in that particular sequence.

In terms of picking a correct scoreline, 2-0 to Arsenal is currently the favourite at 6/1, but with recent history suggesting there will be more goals in the game than that, odds of 23/2 on a 3-1 win or 17/1 on a 4-1 win might be more tempting. Whatever way you cut it, the shortest odds on a Reading victory are the 33/1 available on the Royals winning 1-0 – a price that is still longer than Arsenal winning 5-0 (25/1) or coming out on top by the odd goal in five in a 3-2 victory (30/1).