Liverpool’s clash with Villa provides best value

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood will be trying to get the better of Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend
Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood will be trying to get the better of Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend

Two FA Cup semi-finals and Chelsea’s Premier League showdown against Manchester United share top billing this weekend.

But for punters it’s arguably Liverpool’s clash with Aston Villa, of the three mouth-watering contests, that provides the best value betting opportunities.

Paddy Power have installed the Reds as 8/13 favourites to book a place in the final in normal time while Tim Sherwood’s troops, full of confidence following a surprise victory at Spurs that saw them move closer to top flight safety, are as high as 21/4 at BetVictor to prevail in 90 minutes and bet365 quote the tie at 3/1 to go to extra-time.

Punters expecting Villa’s improvement under Sherwood to continue can tackle BetVictor’s 19/4 for them to hold Liverpool to a score draw and a 1-1 scoreline can be backed at 13/2 via Stan James.

Nevertheless, forgivable defeats to high-flying Manchester United and Arsenal aside, Liverpool have been in decent form and they should ultimately have too much for their opponents, albeit in what looks set to be a tight encounter.

Those in agreement can tackle Ladbrokes’s 5/2 about the Reds shading it by a one-goal margin, they’re 6/1 courtesy of to prevail 1-0, just as they did in the quarter-final replay against Blackburn last week and bet365’s 15/2 for Liverpool to register a 2-1 triumph is set to appeal to punters expecting both teams to find the net (5/6, Stan James).

In the other last-four contest, Arsenal are inevitably well fancied at 2/7 via Skybet as they come up against Championship side Reading and the Gunners’ likely dominance is reflected by the fact that the Royals are 12/1 (betway) to cause a huge upset.

Punters slightly put off by Arsenal’s skinny odds can back them at 8/11 in bet365’s handicaps, where they start a goal behind and BetVictor go 6/1 about Arsene Wenger’s men notching twice without reply. Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, is the stand out selection in the first scorer betting at odds of 10/3 with William Hill.

Back in the Premier League, Chelsea will open up what would probably be an unassailable 10-point lead if they get the better of Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Unbeaten on their own patch this term, the Blues are Stan James’s even-money jollies but the visitors have won six on the spin in the league and one or two shrewd punters might think they can nick a point (5/2, bet365).

They look well placed to do just that, especially as Jose Mourinho won’t consider a stalemate a bad result and BetVictor’s 4/1 about a score draw is particularly eye-catching in west London, where betway quote a 1-1 scoreline at 13/2.

Champions Manchester City have lost four of their last six league matches but are 3/10 (William Hill) to get back on track by overhauling West Ham, Skybet rate Tottenham at 13/10 to claim maximum points at beleaguered Newcastle and Everton (4/6, should be too strong for relegation-threatened Burnley at Goodison Park. A treble on that trio comes in at 4/1 with BetVictor.

Elsewhere, Ladbrokes’s 5/4 chances Leicester are worth considering as they entertain Swansea, Stan James chalk Crystal Palace up at even money to defeat faltering West Brom and it’s 23/10 at bet365 to prove inconclusive as Stoke entertain Southampton.

Rugby Union’s European Champions Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend and bookies are predicting French dominance, Ladbrokes quoting 8/13 for both Toulon and Clermont Auvergne to contest the final.

The latter take on Saracens on Saturday and they’re just 4/11 (Skybet) to get the better of the Aviva Premiership outfit, Stan James’s 11/4 outsiders while in bet365’s handicaps, Clermont are 10/11 when starting seven points adrift of their opponents.

On Sunday, Toulon are tipped to be even more dominant, William Hill making them 1/5 to overcome Leinster and BetVictor pricing them at 10/11 to do so by more than eleven points.

In Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton is just 1/2 via to claim his third victory of the 2015 campaign and he’s difficult to bet against given his domination in Malaysia.

Paddy Power chalk Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg up at 11/4 but a better bet could be Stan James’s 9/4 for the German to claim pole position.

Bet of the week: Chelsea v Manchester United score draw – 4/1 (BetVictor).

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