Gunners are strong favourites to lift the FA Cup

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Bookies are anticipating a relatively one-sided affair in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, writing off Hull’s chances and declaring Arsenal strong favourites to land their first piece of silverware for nine years.

The Gunners are just 4/9 at Paddy Power to emerge triumphant in normal time while the Tigers are as high as 13/2 at Stan James to lift the trophy by coming out on top after 90 minutes.

However, Steve Bruce’s underdogs will take inspiration from last season’s Wembley winners Wigan, who defied heftier odds of 19/2 to dramatically defeat Manchester City – a result that ably demonstrates that there are no foregone conclusions, even if league positions suggest it’s Arsenal’s to lose.

Bet365 price the final at 10/3 to require extra-time, as the final so nearly did a year ago, neverthless, the formbook certainly points to Arsene Wenger’s men, who won their last five Premier League outings, in stark contrast to City who took just a point from theirs and indeed the Gunners also managed a league double over Hull.

The Tigers failed to score in both of those encounters so plenty of punters will be keen to back an Arsenal success ‘to nil’ at 23/20 via William Hill or alternatively, post 6/1 against the north Londoners netting twice without reply.

Those prices may be considered more attractive in light of the fact that City strike duo Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic are cup-tied and their absence could mean a match tally of fewer than three goals (17/20, betway), with the Gunners just 2/5 at Skybet to grab the first.

Bet365 chalk Olivier Giroud up at 5/1 to fire that opener, Aaron Ramsey, who has bagged two in his last three, is a 6/1 chance at BetVictor to break the deadlock and with a cagey start to proceedings likely, Stan James’s evens about the first strike arriving after the 27th minute undoubtedly catches the eye.

North of the border, Dundee United and St Johnstone face-off at Celtic and having finished a couple of places above their opponents it’s the Terrors that are BetVictor’s 5/4 favourites to prevail across the 90 minutes.

United, however, have beaten the Perthshire outfit just once in their last eight meetings, the last three of which have ended in a Saints success, so ruling out Ladbrokes’s 12/5 outsiders doesn’t appear wise.

Tommy Wright’s men are 13/5 (bet365) to take the final to extra-time, they’re a 6/4 chance in Paddy Power’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market and in terms of goals, Saints frontman Stevie May, who struck twice in the 2-1 semi-final success against Aberdeen, is a generous 11/2 at William Hill to put his team 1-0 up.

The announcement of England’s World Cup squad on Monday, did little to convince punters that they can go all the way in Brazil and subsequently Roy Hodgson’s troops remain an unlikely-looking 33/1 chance at Stan James to lift the famous trophy.

The hosts are betway’s 3/1 favourites ahead of South American rivals Argentina (5/1, BetVictor) and despite heading to the competition as defending champions Spain are as high as 7/1 at Paddy Power to retain their crown, with Germany at 11/2 (bet365).

Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium hosts all seven Super League fixtures in the annual ‘Magic’ weekend event, with the highlight the showdown between leaders Leeds and third-placed Wigan.

The Rhinos are William Hill’s 4/11 favourites to rack up yet another victory and on current form they’re impossible to oppose.

Indeed, Brian McDermott’s troops are worth an interest in the handicaps at 5/6 in bet365’s handicaps when starting eight points in arrears.

In the Aviva Premiership it’s semi-final weekend and bookies are confident that home advantage can prove decisive in both encounters.

Tomorrow (Friday) Northampton are 8/13 courtesy of to defeat Leicester (11/8, Stan James) at Franklins Gardens, where BetVictor make Saints 10/11 to overhaul the Tigers’ three-point cushion in the handicaps.

On Saturday, Saracens are more emphatic favourites at 2/7 (Ladbrokes) to get the better of Harlequins and bet365 rate them at 10/11 to do so by more than eight points.

Bet of the week: St Johnstone to beat Dundee Utd ‘Draw No Bet’ – 6/4 (Paddy Power).

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