MM were surprised at Manchester United’s defeat to Chelsea last week, the first shock to emerge from Old Trafford in the last seven days.
Sir Alex Ferguson resides in the home dugout for the final time against Swansea on Sunday – who would bet against a thumping win for United to stem the tears from Ferguson’s adoring fans?
Before that, Wigan break off from the pressing job of avoiding relegation to take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
As usual, MM outlines all the top tips, giving you the best chance of beating the bookies on the football season’s penultimate weekend.
MANCHESTER CITY vs. WIGAN ATHLETIC, Wembley Stadium, Saturday 5.15pm
Manchester City (4/11, PaddyPower); Draw (5/1, Bet365); Wigan (9/1, BetVictor)
Even for a competition that rarely now sets pulses racing with its denouement, the FA Cup can never have been so unashamedly ignored ahead of final weekend as it has been this year.
Ferguson’s retirement represents a unique distraction – but this final, controversially kicking-off at teatime in London despite both competitors emanating from the North West, is let down by other factors.
While for City, victory would be a mere consolation prize, even the ‘underdogs’ make no secret of this match’s inferior position in their list of priorities.
Wigan have never won the cup – this is their maiden final appearance – but lifting the trophy is infinitely behind Premier League survival on their wish list.
Presumably then, away from the public’s focus, City should win a third major trophy in as many years under the guidance of Roberto Mancini.
The Italian’s precarious position has disappeared from the back pages and a second FA Cup should ensure he will fight David Moyes for the Premier League title next season.
Goals galore are probably not on the agenda – a repeat of City’s 1-0 win over Wigan in April is 8/1 with William Hill.
Wigan’s only previous cup final, in the 2006 Carling Cup, was lost 4-0 to Manchester United, and City winning by the same margin is 18/1 with 888bet.
The outright market offers no value whatsoever on City but, the market to lift the trophy, possibly utilising extra time and penalties, is the best bet if you fancy Wigan somehow tasting glory – 9/2 is good value on the Latics for this.
Yaya Toure – City’s match-winner against Stoke in 2011 at Wembley – is 9/1 to score first in this final.
Tip – Man City to win by two goals (16/5, 888bet)
MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Swansea City, Old Trafford, Sunday 4pm
Manchester United (1/3, Coral); Draw (19/4, Bwin); Swansea City (11/1, StanJames)
Rarely will be there so many tears shed in victory.
The occasion of lifting the Premier League trophy is grand enough to challenge the emotions of Manchester United fans but the departure of their legendary, unprecedentedly successful manager will stretch those tear ducts to breaking point.
Surely, surely United will win to send Ferguson away from their cavernous home for the final time in style.
Swansea won at Wigan to severely dent Latics’ survival hopes in the week but this success will have no bearing on the outcome at Old Trafford.
United will win by several goals and their much-vaunted forwards will be itching to score a hatful to make their mark on a unique occasion.
Robin Van Persie is 12/1 with Totesport to repeat the hat-trick he netted against Aston Villa to seal the title while Wayne Rooney, whose United future is in doubt, is 25/1 with SkyBet to bag a treble.
188bet price Patrice Evra – who opened the scoring for United in South Wales earlier in the season – at 33/1 to repeat the feat on Sunday.
An enormous price for an admittedly unlikely scenario is the 125/1 Coral offer on a 2-0 Swansea win – thus replicating the defeat margin Ferguson suffered on his United bow at Oxford in 1986.
Perhaps it would be most fitting if the last United goal at Old Trafford in Ferguson’s tenure is scored by the player who goes back furthest with the club – Ryan Giggs is 14/1 with 888sport to complete the scoring on Sunday.
Tip – United to win 4-0 (14/1, BetVictor)
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