No disrespect intended to Watford, a club with a monumental upset in the FA Cup final within its grasp. Hornets has been one of the best ATS wagers in the Premier League in 2018-19. Watford posted a thrilling 3-2 semifinal win against Wolves, with Gerard Deulofeu knocking in the winner in the 104th minute to propel the club into the final.
A Hornets win would become another great underdog tale in an event full of them.
But one can think of few more anticlimactic finishes to a season than Manchester City somehow blowing it this Saturday.
By lifting the Football Association Cup, the Sky Blues would complete a domestic “treble” or triple-championship, setting the oldest trophy in English football in a case beside the 2018-19 Carabao Cup and the 2018-19 Premier League title, which was won last Sunday with a comeback victory over Brighton on Matchday 38.
Gamblers eager to wager on Citizens one last time must be cognizant of the high risk and low reward of the favorites’ moneyline. That hasn’t stopped action from ramping-up on Man City to win the match at Wembley Stadium.
How can we tell the action is tilting to Manchester City? Because the club opened as a 3-to-1 bet in London and a 4-to-1 gamble in Las Vegas, and now all you see is City (-475). That probably has something to do with how the weight of the Premiership race has now been lifted off Sergio Agüero and the Sky Blues’ shoulders. But it also might have something to do with the starting lineup’s improved health.
Here’s a look at the shifted moneyline odds and a trio of other betting markets that look promising as the final approaches this weekend.
Manchester City (-450) to Win
City’s moneyline didn’t just jump shorter since heroic center back Aymeric Laporte scored the winner against Seagulls on Sunday. There’s been a long-term trend of gamblers taking the favorites, many of whom are perhaps backing-up their FA Cup futures bets with a little extra gambit at the end.
There’s always a chance that an historic match with a sharp intensity level will wind up in a 120+ minute draw. Citizens would have an advantage in penalty kicks and will likely prevail on penalties if forced to.
If I’m gambling on City to win, it’s a great big bundle o’ stake on the Sky Blues “lifting the trophy” even though the odds offer even less payoff. Bettors who are determined to take Man City on the moneyline should go for Bovada’s (-450) which offers slightly more payout on a winner than the near-5-to-1 lines going around the internet.
First Team to Score: City (-450) Watford (+345) No Goal (+1800)
This prop at Bovada stands out at me as interesting, and not just because it’s on top of the “goal props” section of the odds board.
Watford is at least a (+1000) underdog to win the match in regulation. That’s a broad leap from a less-than 4-to-1 line on Hornets to score first. Obviously, whichever side scores first will have a fairly decent chance to win the match.
Yes, I am taking into consideration the fact that Watford’s opponent at Wembley Stadium is, in fact, Manchester City. Hopefully coach Javi Gracia is taking it into account as well (actually, he has seemed a tad cocky at times.)
If Hornets were to score the 1st goal at a late-enough point in the proceedings, there’s always the option to play 4 or 5 players back and a collapsed midfield, boarding up the windows and praying the clock runs out on one of the most dangerous attacks in soccer.
The line is a 3-way market, just like a standard moneyline. The “No Goal” bet should be affecting the odds on both clubs, but in this case, appears to have nudged neither market…unless the Bovada bookmakers really do think Watford has 1-in-3 chances to take a 1-0 lead over the Sky Blues.
1st Half Over/Under: (1 ½) Total Goals
The payoff line on the “Over” market here is (+125), making the Over (1 ½) my favorite pick on the Bovada board by far.
A score doesn’t have to balloon into the stratosphere to be drawn 1-1 or 2-2 at the end of 45+ minutes. A recovered Kevin de Bruyne is likely to play, and Citizens may try to salt the Cup away early so that his minutes can be limited over the long haul.
If City attacks, Watford can counterattack, and if Hornets score to go up 1-0 at an early juncture it may be a death warrant.
There’s no such thing as going into a cocoon and emerging against Raheem Sterling’s motor for 75 minutes. Underdog squads have tried that in the World Cup with nasty results.
The only problem is that given Gracia’s ability to switch to extremely-conservative formations and plans, there’s a 30% or 40% chance that Watford will try to slow the match to a crawl, at least for the first 45+ minutes.
So we have an O/U gamble that will either win or lose spectacularly. But so long as it’s 50-50, it’s a good play because the payoff line is lower-risk and higher-reward than usual.
Over (3) Total Goals
If the Over wins on a 1st-half prop bet, it’s likely to win on the main line too.
In early May, I was convinced that the FA Cup final would be a tight, defensive match. But I was somewhat blinded by how the grind of UEFA and EPL matches had worn on the Sky Blues, who have healed a crucial cog in the lineup in De Bruyne while somehow still winning the Premiership easily on the final few Matchdays. Having had a chance to rest and recharge, they might just crank up the attack early and often and try to make the treble a foregone conclusion by the 75th minute.
Fernandinho is likely to remain out with injury. However, there is plenty of talent to replace anyone missing from the City midfield as long as it’s just a single key player. İlkay Gündoğan starred against Brighton, a veteran of Nationalelf and a finer midfielder than just about anyone in the Watford organization.
And yes, the last time Manchester City played in an FA Cup final, the team lost to Wigan Athletic in one of the truly shocking upsets of the decade. But that will feel like ancient history when Citizens pull away from Hornets on Saturday.
Consider the halftime (1.5) and full-game O/U (3) for Saturday’s big fixture. The high side could easily pay off in either market.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.